The Complete Book of Running – A Review

Cover of "The Complete Book of Running"
Cover of The Complete Book of Running

Something that I have wanted to do for a while now is go back and re-read some of the books that made a difference in my life as a runner, in addition to reading new ones that might make me a better runnah. I know of at least a couple of books that are under the tree, so I have a couple of weeks to re-read some of the old ones that I have kept over the years.

The first book I ever read on running was James E. Fixx’s “The Complete Book of Running” which was published in 1977 and I originally read sometime in the fall of 1978. I picked up picked up my present copy of this book at a book sale and put it out in the garage as “one” of those books you want to keep but don’t need it in the book case.

When I read “The Complete Book of Running” the first time, I was just going out and running without any idea of what I was doing other than just running. I give this book a lot of credit for helping me to become a better runner and avoid/correct some mistakes I had made up until then. Especially the idea that I had to run “balls to the wall” all the time when I would run, instead of hard/easy training.

Based on all of that, I thought re-reading “The Complete Book of Running” would be a good place to start my running re-reading running adventures (seemed appropriate).

So how did the re-read goActually I read “The Complete Book of Running” in about 3 days. It is a very easy read and is not a very technical “how to run” book. CBR was written for beginning runners and surprisingly a lot of what he wrote back then, is pertinent today, though there were a few things I disagreed with, but that is not the point of this quick review.

There have been a lot of different reviews and thoughts throughout the years on the value of this book to the running community, especially once you are no longer a beginning runner. Personally, I feel it really wasn’t all that bad and he had some thoughts about running that I still share.

Surprisingly he recommended (pg 135) shoes with practically no heel, that are flexible, not too soft cushioning – which sounds more than a little like today’s more minimal shoe movement. Although he wasn’t as concerned about weight, but those old Asics Tigers he was wearing on the cover were not heavy weight shoes).

I chuckled more than a couple of times during his chapter on The Mythology of the Woman Runner – my how times have changed :-). I do remember running cross-country in high school and that Kim Tweedie was the first female cross-country runner at our school (around 1973) and the shit she went through just to be allowed to run with “the guys”. No it was a lot different for women runners back then, we have come a long way in that respect.

A good reminder

One of the biggest things I enjoyed about re-reading the book was being reminded that even the great runners back then ran more as a part-time thing, than their livelihood. Most of them had full-time jobs and sandwiched running in when they could around their job. Not something that elite runners of this day and age have to worry about with sponsorships and such. I wonder how much faster people like Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter, Amby Burfoot and others would have been if they had the advantages of today’s runners and being able to focus on being better runners, without the distractions of needing a job to support themselves.

I really enjoyed re-reading the chapters where Fixx interviewed people like: Bill Rogers, Joe Henderson, Dr. George Sheehan and the chapter on the Boston Marathon. I really think this book is the one that made me always want to run “Boston” and yes it is on my Running Bucket List

Running instead of Jogging

I guess that this book is part of where my belief that running is running no matter what pace you run at, not jogging came from. On page xvii of the forward Fixx has in footnote form the following”

We may as well dispose of a question of definition right now. Although some would argue the point, there is no particular speed at which jogging turns into running. If you feel that you’re running, no matter how slow you’re going, no one can say you’re not. For purposes of the present discussion, therefore, it’s all referred to as running, no matter what the speed.

I guess there was a little Karma involved with me finding this quote this week, in light of my post on Labeling – Runner or Jogger Does It Really Matter? 🙂

Worth the Time

Going back and re-reading “The Complete Book of Running” was well worth the time, not so much from any hidden gems on training or running, but more for bringing back to me many of the names, and ideas that are associated with the 70’s & 80’s running boom and bringing back a lot of memories from those days.

Next book up on the re-read list is “Running the Lydiard” Way by Arthur Lydiard which came out in 1978 and I read it shortly after reading “The Complete Book of Running”.

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at “A Veteran Runnah” © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and A Veteran Runnah” with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

2 thoughts on “The Complete Book of Running – A Review

  1. Thanks for the post–I've been re-reading Sheehan's "Running & Being" & been reminded how much I love his writing. Fixx's books are up there too. Have you ever read Ron Daws' books, "The Self-Made Olympian" and "Running Your Best"? Daws, to me, ranks right up there with Fixx & Sheehan as far as running writers. I've never read Lydriad's book but have used his training principles for years.Anyhow, that's for the reminder about Fixx.


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