Running the Edge, by Adam Goucher with Tim Catalano, Kara Goucher's Running for Women, by Kara Goucher with Adam Bean, RBR book reviews, by Jeff Benjamin, note by Larry Eder

GouchersFlag-NYChalf11.JPGKara, Adam & Colt Goucher, 2011 NYC Half marathon, photo by

Kara Goucher and Adam Goucher qualified for the 2012 U.S. Marathon Team Trials. Kara will be running, but, Adam, unfortunately, will not. A U.S. former champion at 5,000 meters, Adam has been fraught with injuries over the past half decade. The guy, tough as nails continues to come back. Kara Goucher, a strong college runner who was often injured, worked with Alberto Salazar's crew for several years, garnering a World Championship bronze medal in Osaka, Japan in the 10,000 meters. Moving up to the Marathon, Kara has run well over the distance, but has had her ups and downs. Perhaps the pressure of being "the next hot runner" was hard, perhaps the media coverage, all played a part, but, in the end, after some ups and downs, Kara Goucher moved from being coached by Alberto Salazar to Jerry Schumacher.

I have been lucky to see both Adam & Kara race well, and also have those tough days. On my mantle at home, I have an autographed shoe from Adam Goucher, from way back in 1999. I have been fortunate to see Kara work out and also watched her race, giving it her all, on that day. Nothing asked, nothing given.

Goucher_Kara1a-Miami11.jpgKara Goucher, 2011 Miami Half Marathon, photo by

Adam & Kara Goucher have both had the Miles of Trials and the Trials of Miles as writer John Parker, in the cult classic, Once a Runner, described the experiences on the road and track.Their books, Running the Edge and Kara Gouchers' Running for Women, are, per our reviewer, Jeff Benjamin, chock-full of tips to make your running better and to learn from their experiences. 

Goucher_AdamQ-USOlyT08.jpgAdam Goucher, 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, 10,000m, photo by

Both Adam Goucher & Kara Goucher are at crossroads: different places in their careers and now, with a son. Their books, quite different, should be on any coaches bookshelf (or athlete). Jeff Benjamin, a long time writer for both American Athletics (now American Track & Field) and will tell you why:


It is sometimes difficult for runners, whether they are elites, beginners, both young and old, to find their one treasured, inspirational book which can turn a person into a successful runner! Many books have been written about either one specific topic pertaining to sucess ( Diet, nutrition, stretching, strategies, workouts, psychology) or taking these topics and putting them into one vast book. Other great running books have included biographical works of the great champions of the sport, which can inspire as well.

Adam and Kara Goucher have decided to change that format. One of Americas' most well known running couples, the Gouchers (who have both qualified to compete in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Houston in January) , along with their friends, have published one book each with the concept of trying to spread runnings' gospel to the masses by attempting to incorporate in their books all of the facets listed above, which is no easy task.  Despite their different writing and conceptual approaches,these books combine to do that extremely well.

Kara Goucher, through all of her experieinces as national and world class runner, has embarked to be the bearer of spreading the idea of achieving success in running, predominantly for women. Written with Adam Bean, Kara' Goucher's Running for Women is part biography as well.

Writing of her early developing years in the sport going back to adolescence, Kara also interjects through her own development with "pit stops" in the book where she then writes about a training/nutrition/stretching/attitude lesson learned during that time. Kara also answers certain questions about training and other issues in these "Dear Kara" boxes in which a runner can find solid answers to many common and uncommon questions.

This adds to many pauses in the book, but, like in running a marathon, the pauses are of great benefit filled with great knowledge from such a great competitor. It also gives the reader a chance to totally absorb what Kara is tying to get across, and, after digesting it, moving on to the next stop! Included in these pauses are inspirational quotes, which are sprinkled throughout the book by some of the greats in the sport, such as Emil Zatopek, Billy Mills, Tom Fleming, Lynn Jennings, David Bedford and others.
While this book is primarily written for female runners, male runners will find benefits as well, especially when it discusses strategies, training surfaces and nutrition. The quotes and questions in the book transcend the genders as well, and may also be of benefit for the male coach of a female athlete or team. Kara definitely gets across to the reader about what a great ride she has so far in the sport, and how the reader can join the fun as well!

Adam Goucher, writing with college teammate (and pretty good runner himself) Tim Catalano have tried a different approach in Running The Edge. Their opening chapters in the book pertain to very little about running but rather these traumatic, upheaval type experiences in their lives which are told in a forthright manner.

Both Adam and Tim show that despite these terrible episodes where lives were shattered (particularly in Adam's situation), both of them, independent of themselves sought to find a positive quality in which they can escape from these instances. They succeed, and claim that these situations, and their qualities to fight off the shocking effects of these things, ingrained in their psyche a desire to not only transform themselves into better runners, but into better people as well.

Using their concept of  the "Six Mirrors" derived from psychology, Buddhism, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other influences, they bluntly, yet encouragingly, explain how they, and anyone else, will be able to do this.
One would think this to be a very warped book, but both Adam and Tim combine all these "ingredients" into a firm belief in its' success.To back up their philosophies, they rely upon their own future attempts at greatness.

They also show how other elite athletes such as Alan Webb, Paula Radcliffe, Chris Solinsky, Galen Rupp and others, in their first person paragraph accounts, show their physical and mental well-beings having a link, sometimes very directly, to the concepts promoted by Adam and Tim.
While both books are written in VERY different styles, the combination of the Goucher's dual books, are an essential part to any runners' library, whether male or female. While there is no so-called "magic workout" written about in these books, Kara, Adam, and friends' contributions to the mental and preparation aspects are of enormous benefit.

However, the reader must be willing to buy into what the books are trying to tell. Although in different styles, both books should be able to achieve that for the reader. Most experts in the sport will tell you that running for a goal requires just as much, and maybe more mental than physical ability. With both of the Gouchers' books in tow, the reader will feel, on a variety of levels, that nothing's going to stop them,or you, now!

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