I just finished Meb For Mortals and I liked it a lot! To be honest, I bought this book because I’m obsessed with Meb, not because I heard fantastic reviews. I’ve actually only read one real review (it was good), but I probably would have bought it regardless.
This book is what I expected: very straight forward and nothing fancy nor exciting. It’s Meb describing, in detail, the how’s and why’s of how he trains and races as a professional runner. He relates it specifically to the fact that he is a relatively older runner, and about how keeping the body healthy and high-functioning is top priority. I like the way he tells it; he comes across as very honest, genuine and humble. He touches on everything! The chapters cover his approach to and reasoning behind:
- mindset and goal setting
- the importance of running form, including all the drills
- training principles, like consistency, variety and patience
- race day stuff, like warming up, visualization, nutrition and having many goals
- day-to-day diet
- funtional strength training
- recovery practices
The detail on each topic is great. I wouldn’t say this book contains a single thing that I haven’t heard about before, BUT he has an excellent way of explaining WHY he does things the way does. Everything gets broken down in ways that make so much sense. Obviously it helps to read things coming from such a successfuly athlete, but I really believe that what I read was a valuable review, and not just because it came from Meb.
A few of the takeaways that come to mind right away, even though they are more reminders of things I already know:
- the way he explains the importance of good running form, and therefore improved efficiency. I know this is important, but he has a way of making me finally accept HOW important. He breaks it down well in the book, and gives good examples.
“Simply put, with more efficient form, you’ll go farther with each step while using the same amount of energy you’d use running with less efficient form. That will get you to the finish line faster.”
- the idea that we should finish a workout being able to do more. Again, I know this, but he has a wise, chill way of describing the principle so that it really hits home.
“You should be pleasantly tired and eager for a recovery day after hard workouts, but you shouldn’t be exhausted. Save the racing for race day.”
- specifics of a race-day warm-up. I forget sometimes that I always warm-up for at least 3k before hard intervals or a tempo run. I’m not sure I’ll do a full 3k warm-up jog before a race, necessarily, but it helps me bear in mind that it truly does take 15-20 minutes to be ready to work hard.
“Think about how much better you usually feel 3 miles into a run or on the second or third repeat of an interval workout. Aim to start races with that same feeling of all cylinders firing.”
- the value of having a SET of goals for a race, and not necessarily time-related. He gives good examples.
“Each one should be something that will give you focus and determination if it becomes obvious your higher goals aren’t possible that day.”
“be flexible in deciding what your goal is, given how the day is playing out.”
- the theory that pretty much any non-hard-workout run is essentially a recovery run, and how to approach these runs. He points out how great the range is in the paces that elites run across their training schedules.
“Many recreational runners don’t have this great a range in the paces they regularly run. You might have some pace per mile you think is too slow, no matter how tired you are. This approach can hold you back…”
I am an extreme runNERD and I loved reading this. I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about improving their running in any/all ways, approaching a new goal seriously, or obsessed with running as a whole, like me.
It’s a must that I acknowledge how many times Meb mentions his sponsors..a lot. But, think about it. How many sponsorship offers do you think this guy gets? I’m sure he has the luxury of picking stuff he actually loves to endorse, and building relationships with great companies. Personally, I’ve tried both CEP compression gear and Krave beef jerky, and both are legit, ahaha. And that Elliptigo bike is fuckin sick. I haven’t owned a pair of Sketchers, but it’s good to know that a brand we used to make fun of back in the day now makes running shoes that elites wear! LOL.
If you’re looking for an inspirational read, this isn’t the one. If you’re looking to be impressed by facts and the details of running studies or research, this isn’t the one for you either. Meb For Mortals is just Meb, who won the Boston Marathon a few weeks before his 39th birthday (“old” in the running world”) giving us a very honest and explicit look into the way he does things and what he believes in with respect to his career as a professional runner. I will reference it often and probably fully re-read it at times, too.
I think you should read it! If you’re near me, you can borrow. Contact me here 🙂