Please enjoy this review of The New Book of Running, by Jeff Benjamin. Jeff is one of our long time correspondents with American Athletics, American Track & Field and RunBlogRun.com.
In 1977, Jim Fixx’s book The Complete Book on Running was a huge national bestseller, with millions of people of all abilities reading it and gravitating at their own pace into the world of running. At almost the same time, New Jersey’s Tom Fleming, running over 100 miles per week consistently, had already developed as an elite marathoner. Like his Bloomfield, New Jersey childhood friend Marty Liquori, Fleming wanted to be a basketball player growing up . But, when both hit high school, they found their true calling and rose up into very successful running careers.
While Liquori would excel at the mile, for Fleming, it was the longer distances in which he would flourish. Throughout the running boom years of the 1970s and 1980s, Fleming played an integral part in the cast of distance running greats from this era. A 4-time NCAA College All-American, Fleming’s training and consistency made him excel at those longer distances. Winning two of the earlier NY Marathons, when they were run solely through Central Park (1973 & 1975), Fleming also showed that he could compete with the best, as evidenced by his finishing the Boston Marathon 6 times in the top 10, finishing 2nd there twice, and running a personal best of 2:12:05. But he didn’t stop there, as his career included many other highlights such as earning the Los Angeles Marathon Pro-Am Championship in 1981, as well as becoming a 5-time American distance record holder. This past week came word that Fleming will also be inducted this upcoming summer into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in Utica, New York.
Upon his semi-retirement from competitive distance running, Fleming, who owned a running store (named “Running Room”) in Bloomfield, New Jersey, then made the decision to become the best Coach he could possibly be. Studying and learning from the sports’ various worldwide minds, Fleming devised his own training methods and philosophy, and it has indeed paid off. As the Coach of New Jersey’s Nike Running Room, he produced the 3-time Women’s National X-C Champions (1990-1992), as well as producing world -class runners Anne Marie Letko (1996 Olympic Marathon) and 2:13 marathoner Joe LeMay , who also sports a 10K road PR of 28:00. Fleming was also the National Distance Coach of USATF from 1991-1997.
Always willing to give his training advice freely to any runner who sought it, it seemed that Fleming would never write it down in a book. But now, “corralled” by Dr. Vijay Vad and Dave Allen, Fleming’s philosophies, along with sound advice from Vad and Allen, have blossomed into a new book for the new generations of runners, aptly called The New Rules of Running.
The genius of this book is that it can be picked up much like Fixx’s book in 1977 by any runner of any ability, whether it is the beginner or the hard core competitor.. In this book, however, are valuable updated nuggets of sound training advice, dealing with new generation-type topics such as biomechanics, recovery, and nutrition. Old themes are here as well, including injury prevention, training mistakes, stretching, and interval training but with new science implemented. The authors also don’t hesitate to go to outside sources, notably Dr. Mathew Moran and Chiropractor Dr. Shawn Williams. There is also a training program provided solely for weight loss.
But it is the Marathon and Half-Marathon training schedules in this book which are invaluable, in that they were designed by Fleming. With close to 50 years of expertise, Fleming’s training schedules are designed for the beginner, intermediate and advanced runners, and give the reader a 12-15 week preparation time to be ready on raceday. Innovative in Fleming’s plans is the concept of a 10-day phase of training, where the runner is not linked totally to the 7-day week plan. While to the quick reader they look quite simple, it is in these plans that the authors major concept is screaming right out at you–the concept of dedication, patience and consistency.
With such a great balance, The New Rules of Running looks to be this generation’s answer to Jim Fixx’s 40 year old book, in it’s ability to resonate with ALL types of runners. Combined with new concepts, innovations and training programs from one of America’s greatest runners and coaches, it is highly recommended for all types of runners, particularly those wishing to embark upon that fall half-marathon/marathon.
Tom Fleming is known for a famous inspirational phrase, “Somewhere in the world, someone is training when you’re not…when you race him, he’ll win.” By following the principles laid out in this book, you won’t be the one who will be disappointed.