Review: The Runners World Complete Guide to Minimalism and Barefoot Running

As I said in my review of Chi Marathon, I have purchased many books over recent years to better understand what is going on in running and have been very disappointed in most of them. The main source of the disappointment is due to what I tongue-in-cheek call, the promise of ‘the second coming of the messiah‘, in that all sorts of good fortune comes to you if you change your running to {INSERT WHATEVER HERE} running technique. I will be honest, I did not have high expectations for this this book because of those previous experiences, but had read some of the author, Scott Douglas’s work before in Runners World and liked it.

runnersworld

When the book first arrived, my low expectations were immediately met when I read on the cover “Injury Free Running” (curiously, that is absent for the image of the book above). That was a red flag. Like I did with the Chi Marathon book, I then turned to a random page to have a look, and boy, was I really impressed! On page 57:

Any honest assessment of the research done to date has to include these three statements:

  • Nobody has proven running shoes causes or prevent injuries
  • Nobody has proven running barefoot causes or prevents injuries.
  • Nobody has proven that runners who wear conventional running shoes get injured more than barefoot runners or that barefoot runners get injured more than conventionally shod runners.

Some of us have been screaming that out loud for years and getting no where. Everywhere you go in the crankosphere blogosphere and all the books on barefoot running you get told about all the research that supports barefoot running. I can not find any research that does, so it was good to see the book start off on that note.

After reading that, I was hooked. This book was a good read. I enjoyed it and it reads well. The book does not ram down your throat that this is the way to run and that everyone should do it that way (ie the ‘one size fits all‘ approach to running technique). That is a real strength of the book; ie its more measured in its approach.

This book is clearly written for runners and not the medical or scientific community, which is why I buy these books. From that perspective there are a number of issues that affect all the books in this genre when they are not written for the medical or scientific community. I have already written about what I think of the way that the ‘are you ready for minimalism’ preparation tests are widely and blindly accepted without any critique (and not just in this book, but elsewhere as well). There is a lot of use of the appeal to authority fallacy without any appraisal of the comments made by ‘experts’; nor are they challenged to defend them. On the other hand you find a much more limited use of the wishful thinking fallacy in this book compared to other books in the genre; that is the packaging of misinformation to appear as fact and just wishing it was true. That is the strength of this book compared to others that are similar.

Also, like the Chi Marathon book review, I like to check the 1-star reviews at Amazon.com as in this genre of books, they are usually pretty much on the mark. There are no 1-star reviews of this book which says a lot. As I said in that Chi Marathon review:

Books like this read like a manifesto from a political party. The party faithful love them. …… The rest of us will wonder why they are so gullible to fall for it.

The beauty of The Runners World Complete Guide to Minimalism and Barefoot Running is that it does not read like a manifesto from a political party.

If you want to get a better feel or understanding for minimalism and barefoot, then this book will certainly help. If you have a runner that wants to transition or you think should transition to minimalism, then this book is a good recommendation for them.

For those interested, here are the links to the book:
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Amazon.uk
Fishpond.au
Fishpond.nz

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2 Responses to Review: The Runners World Complete Guide to Minimalism and Barefoot Running

  1. Brian Hazard April 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I’ve been recommending the book to friends, so I’m glad to see it passed the Craig “smell test”! Thanks for the review.

  2. Craig April 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Do you agree with me on the shortcomings of so many other books in this genre?

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