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The Science of Running: How to find your limit and train to maximize your performance

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  33 reviews

If you are looking for how to finish your first 5k, this book isn't for you. The Science of Running is written for those of us looking to maximize our performance, get as close to our limits as possible, and more than anything find out how good we can be, or how good our athletes can be. In The Science of Running, elite coach and exercise physiologist Steve Magness integr
Kindle Edition, 344 pages
Published February 17th 2014 by Origin Press (first published February 16th 2014)
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Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: exercise
Running literature is rife with gimmicks and fluff for 2 very simple reasons:
1. doing something works better than doing nothing.
2. the capacity and propensity to adapt to training varies widely

The first is why previously couch bound sedentary humans might see improvement from silly exercise regimens that have a low improvement ceiling. The second results in testimonials about gimmicky programming from those who tend to adapt quickly to any stimulus.

In the first section, Steve Magness provides t
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
A big disappointment, as I normally find Steve's blog very informative. Unfortunately this book is very difficult, and not because of the material.

First, it is painfully typo-ridden and misformatted, with Random Capitalization, homonyms, simple letter transpositions, and tables with cut-off contents. Second, it is disjoint on scales large and small. There's a lot of fat to cut and both the first half (which does read like a thesis introduction that grew out of control and was dumped in unedited,
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, running-books
(originally published in Canadian Running Magazine, along with this interview:

The Science of Running by Steve Magness is a seminal work in training literature. If you want to improve as a runner, or as a coach, you should read this book as I can almost guarantee that you will learn something. In fact, one of the themes of the book is that improvement comes from change. Of course, you need to be consistent in your training, but the body reacts to stimuli
Ha Truong
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: running
More than enough for who just love to run and run for fitness. It's perfect for sport scientist and coach and who want to maximize their performance. ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Title & Author: The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximize Your Performance by Steve Magness
Publisher & Year: Origin Press; 2014

“The training of endurance athletes is a complex process that is not entirely understood.” – S. Magness

The quote I chose above perfectly characterizes this book, because The Science of Running read part text book part memoir for me, which partly made the process of reading it difficult and thoroughly enjoying. Difficult, in that this boo
Paul Deveaux
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fitness
This is a decent book, not a great one. This reads like a good second or third draft, not a finished product. There are typos and grammatical errors throughout the book. The most annoying thing us that the author frequently introduces concepts or acronyms without first defining them or explanation.

With that said it is a book that I will study more on the future. His command of the literature and the science cd behind running is very rare and a welcome addition to the all the fluff out there in
CJ Fusco
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Let me be frank here: I’ve read many books on training for distance runners, and this is easily the best. Moreover, I’ve found that when I’ve integrated the concepts therein into my own coaching, it’s had a sizable, noticeable, and measurable impact. The only reason I’m not giving it 5/5 stars is because of the frequent grammatical errors, as well as the fact that the units of measurement displayed in the sample training plans are inconsistent; if there was a 2nd edition that smoothed out these ...more
Michelle Lines
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Oooof. Fitness, nutrition and of course, running, are huge passions of mine...even with having that profound interest in the subject matter, this book was a tough read. I'm giving it three stars because I learned a handful of interesting theories and workout ideas that I'm excited to test out in my next big training block, but finding it took wading through a lot of seriously dry, mind numbing sections. ...more
Brian Rock
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: experienced runners.
Shelves: running
When I'm doing something, I always want to know why I'm doing it and how it works. This usually leads to me reading a lot about things and trying to understand them.

The problem with reading about running is that oftentimes, the same truisms and best practices are repeated in self-reinforcing circles. Because some coach used a technique with success in some situation, people use that technique in many situations.

Often times this works out well, but not always...

That's where science comes in, and
Elwin Kline
Dec 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on exercise science.

The author admittingly turned his Masters Thesis into a book, that ended up doing very well and taking off to be quite financially rewarding. Good for him! I am sure there are plenty of thesis/dissertations out there that this path could be pursued and I am all for it.

This book is split into two parts, Part 1 is full of immensely heavy, very deep dive, biology and science of the human body relating to exercise. It was so in-depth that it almost pushed me away... b
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very scientific and detailed look at running and training. I listened to the audio book and thought it was read well.

W0w - lots of detail and theory. Great for me, perhaps too much for some. Magness does point out that what runners and coaches adopt typically happens before scientific proof.

There is also good discussion about training, its impact, and who is being trained.

Untrained athlete - almost any regular program will show improvements.

Trained athlete - a more logical training program an
Christopher Kelsall
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you have run for long enough, you will have been met with injury, niggles, irritations, tightness and muscular as well as gastrointestinal cramps. You will have been banged up, tossed around and have run through storms of fatigue and with tailwind-blowing gales of finely tuned fitness; you will have seen it all.

During that span, you will have picked up all sorts of correct and incorrect physiological jargon from professionals, running friends, Google-searched bro-science as well as real scien
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: coaches, elite runners, parents of elite runners, sports scientists interested in running
there is a TON of _great_ information in this book. but I feel like it's written for a very specific audience -- the whole of which I do not belong. I am neither a sports scientist or a coach of elite atheletes, so I bailed out of this book early. I got a TON of great information and food for thought out of it, but at the end of the day, I am nowhere near in the shape I was in when this book would have been more useful to me. If you're a coach or sports scientist, definitely read this book. Mayb ...more
E. Nicholas Mariani
Hands down the best book on running and endurance training I've read so far. I'll be honest, as a casual runner/cyclist who engages in those activities mainly for exercise and peace of mind, a lot of the detailed information in this book was frankly above my pay grade. But for competitive athletes looking to improve their race times, serious marathon runners who want a boost to their endurance, or people like me who just find exercise science incredibly interesting, I have to imagine that this b ...more
Stef Cornelissen
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: triatlon
As a lifelong runner/triatlete I find this book a treasure trove combining the recent scientific nitty gritty and coaching insights into an integrated approach to training. Of all the stuff related to training this is by far the best I have come across in 45 years (Joe Friel included and that is saying something).

One of the eye openers was the discussion on fatigue and the fact that we do not yet know what it is ... For sure not lactate but a decision of your brain - and how we reach te conclus
Herbie Behm
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Steve Magness thoroughly explains the physiology of running and how to apply that understanding to human adaption necessary for athletic success. He explains his different types of workouts as well as the internal pathways those workouts trigger in a simple way that can easily be applied to any program. This book certainly enhanced my program planning and understanding of athletic development.
Aug 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: heard
Interesting but dense book for the professional. Does not lend itself to the Audiobook format as well as other, less technical non-fiction books. I have enjoyed the first part (and learned a lot from the presentation of the existing research on running, training and fatigue) and skipped some chapters in the second part (as I'm not a running coach nor training at those levels myself). ...more
Mark Koester
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very comprehensive book about running, training and performance improves. Not for a first-time runner, but definitely a great source for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the science behind running and training to run faster.
Alstin Benton
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Quality Book... this book is spot on with the coaching trend of getting away from the focus being solely on Physiology and moving to the mental aspect of sport. Every great coach has found out the importance of this in athletic success
Brad Cooke
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book contains lots of good stuff; it's basically a thesis. However, it is rife with so many spelling and grammatical errors that it's about as readable as the average twitter post written on an iPhone. Hopefully future versions benefit from some editing! ...more
Anders Risager
I use it as a encyclopedia for running 😉
Jaume Lloria
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This a very nice and comprensible book for understanding all mechanisms underpinning running exercise. Many perspective and important questions are exposed.

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-running
Reads just like it promises, like a scientific report. Very interesting and exhaustive on the subject at hand.
Ankit Hawk
“The Science of Running” by Steve Magness begins with assumption that you already have lot of races under your belt. You are not a person who is reading the book trying to understand “how to run my first 5k”. As book progress I realized that analogy is still understated. The examples given and experienced shared could only be understood by a racer with training hundreds of kilometers per week. At least.

I am not one of the them but the book is not lost cause for me since to me the book is of insi
David John
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being an aspiring coach, this book outlined a ton of great information that really changed how I look at running. From the body being forced away from homeostasis to the real benefits of hill workouts early season, I kept making all the great knowledge that filled the pages cover to cover. Thought that the training plans that were outlined were easy to follow and were made even more purposeful by the information that lead into them. This book will definitely be a great resource for me moving for ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a dense but worthwhile read for young runners working hard to get faster as well as old runners working hard to slow their decline. The most interesting learnings for me came from descriptions of recent research that undermines conventional wisdom about the utility of training to increase V02 max, raise lactate threshold, or reproduce a program that worked well for another runner. The author does a good job of outlining the outcomes that runners with different physiological starting poin ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An fascinating book if you are interested in the bio-chemical processes that lead to adaptation of the body when you run. There is no magic formula, and somewhat surprisingly, the best coaches always seem to be a step ahead of science.

The author does a good job in comparing the different approaches and makes it clear when theory is shaky. The presentation of the material itself could have been better, I think I have read the parts I was interested in a couple of times until I understood the rel
David Tiefenthaler
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. It pits science against running norms to help serious runners and serious coaches learn the best practices for helping a runner improve. I've followed Steve Magness' blog "The Science of Running" for years, and I was hoping that this book would serve as a great resource for me. It is! A word of warning. This book is not for beginner runners. This is for people who know a good deal about running already and want to know a whole lot more. ...more
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
The science in this book states that we don't know much about running! Science always pushing butts forward, literally in this case. Nevertheless, the literature review on fatigue was entertaining. Nice to meet you fatigue! I can feel you better now, doing my best to tolerate you. After science comes training, and it was mind blowing for a curious, not serious, runner. Hands up homeostasis, we are having a daily fight! ...more
Ruslan Voronkov
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Advanced book of running science

Liked practical aspects of training plans, there are alot of them to choose for every race distance. Too little is written abour weight training ans supportive cross-training.

Chapter about running mechanics ended too soon.
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Steve Magness is a world-renowned expert on performance, coauthor of Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success and The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life, and the author of The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximize Your Performance. Collectively ...more

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