There are only a few books aimed at those starting out in ultra running. I recently reviewed Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Bryon Powell and this book is aimed at a similar audience.
Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond is a great book for beginners which provides a broad introduction to the sport of ultra running. It does not go deeply into every topic but certainly covers enough to get any new runner prepared for their first few races. The book is well organised, written in a relaxed style and presents the topics in a logical order over eight chapters:
- Getting started
- Nutrition and Hydration
- Maintenance, Self-care and First aid
- Dealing with your environment
- Race day
- Training plans (50Km, 50 miles, 100Km and 100 miles)
The author, Hal Koerner, has had a lot of success as an ultrarunner, having won one of the biggest annual 100 mile trail races in America (Western States) and his book Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning uses his own personal approach and experiences as the core of the learning material. The fact that he has also organised races means that he is very aware of essential things runners need on race day.
Hal has included several personal stories from his own running career which add flavour and interest to the text. Refreshingly, Hal doesn’t just discuss his successes but is open about the mistakes he has made and suggests ways to avoid these, for example chafing.
Hal is a proponent of quality work during training and covers speed work and hill training in some detail as well as the importance of training over similar terrain to that you plan to race on.
Everything a new ultrarunner needs to know is covered, including preparation, equipment, training and racing. If I was going to buy just one book then I would probably choose Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons but I would like to think there will always be a place for both these books on my shelf as Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning is a very entertaining read.