Fast 5K: 25 Crucial Keys and 4 Training Plans by Pete Magill
The first thing I noticed about FAST 5K by Pete Magill was the concise, easy-to-read format. Each chapter is actually a "Key," and focuses on a single point--e.g, "Slow Down Your Distance Runs," or, "Eat a Runner's Diet." This is really a smart way to write a non-fiction book. With this format, the reader can concentrate on just one important aspect of running, and not get overwhelmed with "fast-twitch," "slow-twitch," etc.
Do NOT just scan through this book quickly. Instead, take time to mull over these important keys. I am reading through them slowly, and pondering over them a little. I am learning a lot.
As most readers will already know, the author is not just an armchair theoretician--he is an accomplished, award-winning runner and coach. This experience shines through loud and clear. For example, Pete spends a fair amount of time discussing avoiding injuries. For example, he provides a plan for post-run stretches and other exercises that focus on the most injury-prone body parts.
Here is an example of a golden gem of advice: Use the "3-Week" improvement method, not the "10%" method. That is, give your body 3 weeks to adjust to a harder pace. Otherwise, you risk injury. Throughout the book, Pete emphasizes realistic training and goals. One sober chart illustrates the huge number of injuries to runners, and how they occur.
Here's another key that hits pretty close to home: "Key 20: Review non-Running Activities & Hobbies." Pete suggests looking at your non-running activity to see how it affects your running performance. That is, your other sports could be hurting your running. (I can confirm from personal experience that mountain biking can be dangerous to your running health.)
Pete Magill is a running genius. I found "FAST 5K" to be a superb, practical book. I am using it now--or I will be when I recover from my mountain-biking accident. (I forgot about Key #20.)
Special thanks for photos to 101 Degrees West and Diana Hernandez.