Based on his own experience transforming himself from a degenerate bar fly into a dedicated runner who qualified for the Boston Marathon, Ben Kaplan provides a week-by-week training program, split into four sections, each concluding with a race from 5km to a full 26.2-mile marathon. With wit, self-deprecation, and the input of experts from around the world, he provides critical information on nutrition and hydration, selecting shoes, race strategy, pacing, proper form, motivation, and how to stave off injuries while continually crossing new finish lines. He shares running music recommendations provided personally by a variety of pop and rock stars, including Paul Simon, Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Ghostface Killah, Willie Nelson, Feist, and Norah Jones. Kaplan's infectious enthusiasm about running — and music — inspires the most recalcitrant runners to lace up their shoes and hit the pavement.
Kaplan, a journalist and running instructor, offers an irreverent, light-hearted, yet informative guide to the serious business of running. Starting at the very beginning getting out for a first run he takes the reader on a year-long journey involving training and preparation for 5 km, 10 km, half-marathon and marathon distance runs. Drawing on a variety of experts and his own experience as a self-described "average" runner, Kaplan sets out helpful weekly training programs and addresses a wide range of issues: the physiology and psychology of running, nutrition, clothing and finding support in the community of runners. This "average" 50-something runner/reviewer found the chapter on cross-training an affirmation of what works best for aging joints and muscles. Kaplan weaves music into the training program, mostly by pop musicians. Music preferences, like training programs, tend to be highly individual and subjective, but the author notes that the songs he has included are only suggestions. Each runner's play list will be unique. References to very current political events, not to mention the pop songs, could quickly date an otherwise timely guide that has the potential to be well-worn by many new runners in the years to come.