Review: Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running, by Dagny Scott Barrios

by Rebeca on July 12, 2009

Runner's World Complete Book of Women's RunningRunner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running
By Dagny Scott Barrios
Rodale, Inc.
324 pages

Like most women I like aerobic activity over weight-trainig. I like riding my bike, walking briskly, working out on the elliptical or stairmaster, but running has always been a challenge for me. I like the treadmill, partly because I can control the pace and the incline, but after a two mile run on the machine I get bored. Running outdoors can be less boring, but I’m dealing with outside forces like the weather, cars, dogs, bicyclists and uneven terrain.

In the past, I’ve signed up for running classes through my local sports shop and every time I’ve been sidelined either by an injury or time constraints. I’ve never reached my goal, which was to run a 5K race. This time, however, I will complete a 5K race and I will lose a minimum of five pounds.

To help me achieve these two goals, I have Dagny Scot Barrios’ book, Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running, which provides terrific advice on how to get started, stay motivated, lose weight, run injury-free, be safe and train for any distance.  Now that’s everything I want in a book.

What factors are important to me? Since I injured my calf in the past and it took a full six weeks for it to fully heal, I don’t want to sabotage my efforts. The first chapter I turned to was Chapter 16: Caring for Your Body (frankly, I think this should be the third chapter). Barrios provides a quick guide of running injuries that especially that affect women, what causes the injury and how to treat it. In my case, it was my right calf muscle bunching up into a tight ball. She explains that this may have been caused by a combination of dehydration (check) low electrolyte levels (double check), and possibly a lack of flexibility (triple check). How to treat it? Warm up and cool down, stay well-hydrated, drink a sports drink with electrolytes if you workout for more than 60 minutes. Engage in a regular stretching program.

So far so good…but I am on my third day of a running/walking program and there’s that bloom of motivation, but what happened when it withers away? How do I keep going and not get discouraged? This is the most important chapter for me, and again it comes late in the book as Chapter 12: Staying Motivated and Beyond: The Mental Aspects of Running.  Here Barrios writes of the most common factors that droop motivation these include boredom, stress, lack of results, and time constraints. When boredom strikes, Barrios recommends to fight back with some variety: Change your route, your speed, make your run an adventure, invite a friend to join you, etc.

A key factor to keep motivated, Barrios writes, is to keep positive and offers the following advice:

  • For every run, find a success. Maybe you didn’t feel like running or you a had a late start, but that didn’t stop you from running.
  • Write or recite positive affirmations.  Dump the negative self talk and replace it with positive affirmations. For example instead of saying I only completed ¾ of a mile, say I ran ¾ of a mile and didn’t walk any of it.
  • Build a support team. Find friends who support and encourage you to reach your goals (and theirs too)
  • Keep running in perspective. Sometimes our schedules don’t lend them themselves to a daily run or life just happens. Anything can shift a priority that can make running a chore instead of a fun activity. Think of running as source of pleasure, meditation, relaxation, and enjoy and think of what you want to accomplish.

Beginner runners will find the other chapters in the book valuable. Barrios provides realistic training programs that transition from walking to jogging; jogging to running; running to racing; and to conquering the marathon. She answers questions for pregnant runners, younger runners and has great chapters on body issues, diet and nutrition, and a slimming-down program.

So, for the remaining part of the summer, Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running will be my bible that will help me keep motivated and injury-free and help achieve my goals. For women who want to start a running program, or restart one, Barrios book is a must-read or reread.

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