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Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength & Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  527 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The sport of running is founded upon unchallenged beliefs about how to train. Unbreakable Runner tears down these traditions to reveal the new rules for fast, powerful running. The creator of CrossFit Endurance, Brian MacKenzie, dispels the tenets of run training like high mileage and high-carb diets to show how high-intensity training can make runners strong for races fro ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 5th 2014 by Velo Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Dustin Davis
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
It's somewhat motivational, but if you're already a somewhat experienced runner, if you already do speed work, and particularly if you're already an experienced lifter or Crossfitter, don't waste your money. I personally don't think I learned anything from this book. There's certainly nothing in here that you couldn't learn for free on the internet. Additionally, while the claim is that this allows you to train for a marathon by running fewer "junk miles," the time commitment is at least the sam ...more
Greg Hickey
The byline of Unbreakable Runner (T.J. Murphy and Brian MacKenzie) deceived me from the start. The book reads as though written entirely by Murphy, punctuated by references to what MacKenzie says and does for himself and the athletes he coaches. Given his experience as editor of Triathlon and Competitor magazines and author of Inside the Box, Murphy's writing abilities are up to the task, but an introductory text to Crossfit Endurance would seem more credible coming firsthand from its founder Ma ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sport
A disappointing book. The part I liked most was about running form and goes hand in hand with the (superior) Runner's World Your Best Stride. Improved mobility and strength will support a more efficient running style, which will result in faster times.

It's a bit strange to think that you can drastically cut your weekly mileage and become a fast runner without running too much. The author gives Sebastian Coe as a prime example but forgets that Sebastian didn't count slow jogging when reporting h
William Chinda
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. So much of the book is spent in sales pitch mode, trying to scare the reader away from the horrors of long slow distance training. The authors should realize that, in purchasing the book, you've already bought into the idea of strength and conditioning on some level and don't really need to be convinced. 80 pages could've easily been stripped from the front of this book. More effort should have been spent providing training guidance and offering additional instruction. What little ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Good basic information. Half the book is informational, but it’s a little vague. The other half is training plans. I am just ending a training cycle right now, so I will come back to this book when I begin a new cycle.
Matt Davis
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good intro to CFE, good workouts and sample plans. I have some work to do.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Decent insight for anyone who runs and is not familiar with CrossFit. The skills and drills integration was novel to me (at the levels MacKenzie prescribes) - his short-hand notation for workouts is still pretty frustrating (and not nearly as intuitive as other CF jargon). I'd give it a higher rating if that were more of a focus, but it seems almost purposefully obtuse (no master index, helpful reference sheet, just an almost throw-away "This will get easier as you get used to it.")

Other than th
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Good approach: Skills and strength-based running. Wrong elements: Pose (it may help some runners although you can still have bad tech and run perfect pose but it may also totally stuff your running up) and cross-fit (OK, I suppose, but I think drills and running strength exercises are better; after all, it's just circuit training).

Apart from that, a lot of hype in this book and not much substance. When reading it, I got quite carried away with the whole thing and nearly bought into it. In the e
Jul 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Disappointing, basically the whole book seems to be an advertisement for CFE (CrossFit Endurance).

The premise being if I run less I'll get injured less. Well duh! Also, I run because I love to run, why would I run less?...
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
An infomercial grounded in pseudoscience- basically hell.
A bit of a mixed bag.

Murphy & Mackenzie explore the possibility of using CrossFit as a substitute for the bulk of running training, supplementing it with a small volume of high intensity running.

It's an interesting idea, and the focus on functional strength over junk miles makes some intuitive sense, particularly for older runners, but there's a lot of stuff in here which is just plain wrong.

Mackenzie pays no heed of the level of existing aerobic training when putting together his training plan
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is an OK read. It's pretty repetitive and lacks much new information, but I appreciate the alternative ideas for distance training. I am a bit skeptical of how little running is actually involved in the CFE training plans, especially for longer races, and I'm also disappointed that the authors did not consider the mental and emotional reasons that many endurance athletes run or do their sport. We don't all do it just to win or do well in races, a lot of us do these sports because they ...more
Timo Saloranta
May 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Positives: the book is pretty well written and key reasoning is explained pretty well (not saying the reasoning is always that solid)

Negative: The running formula this book teaches is mostly marketing of CFE (Crossfit Endurance) methodology. Almost half of the book consists of training programs (tables and such) which are not useful if you just want to pick some new inspiration for your training without going fully into the direction the author teaches.

As an experienced runner I agree that it's
Malin Friess
Nov 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This book endorsed by (Dean Karnaze-- Marathon Man) presents some new running theories:

1- Throw out high-carbohydrates eating patterns. Move towards protein only.
2- High mileage is unnecessary. Intensity is more important.
3- Cross training (biking, swimming, rowing) is critical.
4- To become durable and injury free you need to do cross-fit.

3 stars. This book has some good information. I think I would be more durable if I did more box jumps, pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and squats. But at times t
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A seemingly controversial approach to running but under further inspection, the themes of addressing muscle imbalances to prevent injuries, improving cadence and running form with running drills, strengthening hips, quads, hamstrings and the most overlooked muscles in the feet all seem like no brainers when it comes to improving running or to run injury free. I must admit I was a skeptic but after reading it and taking several of the warm up exercises and implementing some of the strength and co ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful approach

This is a great synopsis of the CrossFit Endurance approach to training. It also includes drills and training plans for those wanting to complete 5k to ultra marathons using CrossFit Endurance. Parts of it seemed to be more about battling critics versus laying out the plan. This is a great complement to Power Speed Endurance.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
It feels like the majority of the book is all about convincing the reader of strength training. I was already convinced. The exercises explained may be good but the explanations are short and some of the pictures show them executed with bad posture.
A good short read

This is more of a manual than a book, however I enjoyed it all the same. I'll likely try one of the training routines in the future to prepare for my next race.
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Average read. Not much new information presented. It is pretty much known now that strength training helps runners with injury prevention.
Ryan Page
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a runner, and a Crossfitter. This book really helped me refine my training for ultra marathons.

Highly recommend!
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I am a runner, and a Crossfitter. This book really helped me refine my training for ultra marathons.

Highly recommend!
Douglas Lord
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This may prove a real eye-opener for weekend warriors and hardcore endurance athletes alike as it makes many valid, common-sense points about optimizing our bodies and reducing our proclivity for injuries. Regular Crossfit is a fun, if polarizing, activity due to injuries people get when they are doing it wrong or are simply not ready for its rigors. Crossfit Endurance (CFE) is a halfbreed that straddles “traditional” endurance training and Crossfit. CFE is one of many endurance training methods ...more
Nelson Candelario jr.
Overall the book is a great resource, with the bulk of the value coming in the form of CFE training plans from beginner to intermediate levels. However, there are a few things that I found problematic. For one thing, it is unclear on which audience the book targets. It is written as though it is meant for folks with little familiarity with CFE, but then there does not seem to be enough info to really guide someone who is completely new to crossfit. On the other hand, if you are familiar with CFE ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good book with training guidelines on being a better runner. My running has improved after following Murphy and Brian Mackenzie's precepts and training plans. Exercises are illustrated with black and white photos and if one goes to their CrossFit Endurance website, there are videos that a very helpful in learning how to properly perform the drills and exercises. To all the Crossfit haters, don't knock it until you try it. I have incorporated CrossFit (or HIIT, if you'd rather) into my training, ...more
Evelyn Hornbarger
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Based on my experience of running an Ultra Ragnar, with what I perceived as "no training" changed my philosophy on what training to run long distances means. This book aligns perfectly with my experience, and I am so excited to have methodology and experience behind it. The philosophy is to run smarter, utilizing high intensity aerobic strength workouts to compliment speed work. The body gets equal, or better, conditioning as long runs provide, but without the accompanying injury that comes with ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will be running the SeaWheeze half marathon this August in Vancouver, B.C. This will be my third half marathon and I decided I wanted to take a Crossfit training approach this time. My training for the last two races was sub-standard at best, so following the training plan in this book will be an interesting experiment. The general approach has the athlete doing more interval and strength work, with long runs only once a week. The goal for my run is to be comfortable for the entire 13.1 miles ...more
Mark Law
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
In my quest to improve my running and fitness I picked up this book. The book is written in convincing manner and will add food for thought as I begin the off season of strength training and recovery before launching into the next training cycle. While I believe much of what is written, I am still not ready to completely chuck current convention for this new upstart. I II believe in many of the principles and test myself to see what happens. I encourage you to the same.
Gabe McGowan
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a valuable resource WRT building a kinetic-chain strength base for running. The good stuff is the training plans, strength workouts, etc. The background is basically the same minimal/paleo stuff you've heard before, and probably a little too absolute. The material presented is valuable if you looking to effectively train for endurance events (I'm a competitive distance runner) while keeping weekly mileage in the moderate range.

Joshua Mooney
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
A solid resource with great suggestions for strength training and speedwork. I am still not cold on the idea of abandoning all runs above ten miles, but I do agree with the central principle of quality of quantity when it comes to mileage.

The number of stars may rise or fall depending on how much success I have with techniques advocated in the book.
Eddie Black
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
A bit redundant, but good information. As some reviewers scoff at it, being "experienced" runners and all, I learned from it. I've got 9 marathons in 5 years and a couple thousand miles. I'm new to CrossFit, about 7 months, and would've liked to have had this book back then. I've learned this stuff the hard way.
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“Develop a rapid cadence. Ideal running requires a cadence that may be much quicker than you’re used to. Shoot for 180 footfalls per minute. Developing the proper cadence will help you achieve more speed because it increases the number of push-offs per minute. It will also help prevent injury, as you avoid overstriding and placing impact force on your heel. To practice, get an electronic metronome (or download an app for this), set it for 90+ beats per minute, and time the pull of your left foot to the chirp of the metronome. Develop a proper forward lean. With core muscles slightly engaged to generate a bracing effect, the runner leans forward—from the ankles, not from the waist. Land underneath your center of gravity. MacKenzie drills his athletes to make contact with the ground as their midfoot or forefoot passes directly under their center of gravity, rather than having their heels strike out in front of the body. When runners become proficient at this, the pounding stops, and the movement of their legs begins to more closely resemble that of a spinning wheel. Keep contact time brief. “The runner skims over the ground with a slithering motion that does not make the pounding noise heard by the plodder who runs at one speed,” the legendary coach Percy Cerutty once said.7 MacKenzie drills runners to practice a foot pull that spends as little time as possible on the ground. His runners aim to touch down with a light sort of tap that creates little or no sound. The theory is that with less time spent on the ground, the foot has less time to get into the kind of trouble caused by the sheering forces of excessive inward foot rolling, known as “overpronation.” Pull with the hamstring. To create a rapid, piston-like running form, the CFE runner, after the light, quick impact of the foot, pulls the ankle and foot up with the hamstring. Imagine that you had to confine your running stride to the space of a phone booth—you would naturally develop an extremely quick, compact form to gain optimal efficiency. Practice this skill by standing barefoot and raising one leg by sliding your ankle up along the opposite leg. Perform up to 20 repetitions on each leg. Maintain proper posture and position. Proper posture, MacKenzie says, shifts the impact stress of running from the knees to larger muscles in the trunk, namely, the hips and hamstrings. The runner’s head remains up and the eyes focused down the road. With the core muscles engaged, power flows from the larger muscles through to the extremities. Practice proper position by standing with your body weight balanced on the ball of one foot. Keep the knee of your planted leg slightly bent and your lifted foot relaxed as you hold your ankle directly below your hip. In this position, your body is in proper alignment. Practice holding this position for up to 1 minute on each leg. Be patient. Choose one day a week for practicing form drills and technique. MacKenzie recommends wearing minimalist shoes to encourage proper form, but not without taking care of the other necessary work. A quick changeover from motion-control shoes to minimalist shoes is a recipe for tendon problems. Instead of making a rapid transition, ease into minimalist shoes by wearing them just one day per week, during skill work. Then slowly integrate them into your training runs as your feet and legs adapt. Your patience will pay off.” 1 likes
“20 minutes AMRAP (run bias):      400-m run      15 sit-ups      25 air squats” 0 likes
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