Long-ish story short, when most everything shut down mid-March 2020, I was forced to start running outdoors a lot more in order to keep up my fitness which is important to me. By late fall that year, I decided to start adding distance. Spring 2021, I’d signed up for my first half marathon; it went virtual to no one’s surprise. I found one not far from me that October, which also ended up going virtual right before the race was supposed to happen; I found another one that happened in person not much further away and did that one. All of this is preface to my review of what is basically a book of brief advice lists for runners: How to Make Yourself Poop and 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know. Since I’ve done a handful of half marathons (mostly virtual, stupid pandemic) and more 5ks than I can remember (started doing those about 6 years ago), I would say I’m a reasonably intermediate level runner in terms of experience and knowledge.
A lot of what’s in here is pretty basic common sense for anyone with some running experience, but it’s a good guide for someone wanting to start getting serious about running. Even though I’ve got some experience now, I still found some useful reminders and even a few new tips that I do think will be helpful. For example, I don’t like traditional speedwork often done on a track because I end up with shin splints; that’s a common over0use injury where your shins get sore but if you aren’t careful it can lead to much worse problems. What the book pointed out is that something I don’t have much trouble with, running hills, is actually considered a generally acceptable substitute for things like speed intervals. There’s also a list of fartlek options some of which I might try since they sound more do-able for me. This leads me to another thing appreciate about this book, that it acknowledges that the word ‘fartlek’ inspires the inner 6-year old in most people.
There’s a wide range of subject for all kinds of scenarios that a runner of most any level might run into, like how to deal with different types of terrains, different types and distances of race, running early or late, wearing tech fabric vs cotton, food related quandaries and queries, and what to do in a potty emergency. This section is actually kind of interesting as one list involves how to do an emergency pit stop without undressing if you specifically have female anatomy, although the book is careful to point out that public urination is illegal in all 50 states.
There’s one thing though that I don’t like, and unfortunately it’s a big problem, at least to me: 95% percent of the sources cited (source citation is good) are Runner’s World articles. The book is published under the Runners World brand by one of their writers. Citing yourself is poor form for me in this instance because it looks likes the majority of the cited articles are based mostly on anecdotes and interviews (yes sometimes by experts but no guarantee). The other minor problem is that the title is the teensiest bit inaccurate; there are 3 ‘how to make yourself poop’ ideas (and only one of the three might actually be of use last minute; the other two take planning ahead), so by the title that means there should be a total of 1002 bits of advice. Going by the individual chapter tallies, there are actually 1008 tips.