Category Archives: Book Nook

Book Nook: Chi Running Review

I recently finished reading Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running.  I was familiar with the book’s content before I opened it but was excited to learn more about the method and possibly apply some of the concepts to my own coaching.  It ended up being a valuable tool to help me become a better coach and a very positive read.chi running

The book itself is well written and overall easy to get through compared to some more technical writing about the biomechanics of running.  Roughly half of the book is normal text while the rest of it is designed as a simple to navigate reference book that guides you step-by-step on your chi running journey.  It also includes sections on preparing to run, racing and nutrition that are full of useful ideas.

It was interesting to see the commonalities between Dreyer’s Chi Running and Romanov’s Pose Method.  I coach using a combination of lots of approaches, finding the biggest benefit is sometimes just being exposed to a new way to say the same thing.  Both chi running and pose running are designed to minimize injury risk while making you a more efficient runner.  They ultimately arrive there via slightly different pathways but the content of Chi Running is definitely worth exploring.  The idea of falling to move yourself forward and landing softly on your mid-foot are major focuses of both styles.  The differences between them occur in other areas, such as where your energy is coming from and how hard to train.

I don’t want to spoil all the fun of reading it yourself, which I definitely recommend, but I will say one of the things I like best about the chi method is its emphasis on core strength.  The mid-section is an often overlooked area for most recreational runners that could actually help them a lot.  Sit-ups and planks for the win!  If you’re looking for a solid piece of running literature, Chi Running is a great choice.

Meredith

Do you use chi running?  Why or why not?

***This is not a sponsored post.  I bought this book with my own money and all opinions are my own***

Right Now: Running, Coaching, Reading

There are only a few hours left in March and that makes it past time I update with March 2015 Edition of Right Now.  Here are a few of my favorite things as the year’s third month draws to a close, including some solid running, rewarding coaching and good reading.

Running:  My Prairie Fire training has been going very well.  Rock n Roll DC was a great run, coachingShamrock was a blast and even though my first 16 miler of the year yesterday was colder than I had hoped at ‘feels like’ 26 degrees with some chilly 10-15 mile-an-hour winds, it was a fantastic run.  The wind wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be and I settled into a comfortable pace that left me quite happy.  You can check out all of my latest thoughts on my goal spring race here.

Coaching:  I have been working with a friend of mine from college who lives in the nice, sunny warmth of Tampa for a few short months.  She doesn’t know I’m writing about her, so this lovely lady will remain anonymous today, but I am very proud of her.  One of the best things about coaching is being a part of someone’s journey to reach their goal, no matter what it is.  This client wanted to shed some unwanted pounds, tone up and run a faster 5k.  Since the beginning of the year, she has successfully finished multiple 5ks, her first 8k, her first 15k and her first 10 miler.  Watching people fall in love with running icoachings another coaching bonus!  She’s looking forward to a RunDisney event soon and I’m excited to be a part of her journey.

Reading:  I love Game of Thrones.  It’s a wonderful show but, as usual, the books eclipse the film.  Because George R.R. Martin is in no hurry to release the next installment in A Song of Ice and Fire, I took the dive into his 300+ page tome, The World of Ice and Fire.  It’s loaded with background information on the various houses of Westeros and even though it has difficult moments (hello, family trees!), the story is worth every second.  It’s a must read for any fan.

Meredith

What are your favorites from the last few months?  Are you involved with any coaching?

Two Books are Better than Two Movies

Movies are great.  Except for when they come from a book.  I’ve recently finished two novels, one of which is about to hit theaters and the second of which is slated for a fall release.  February 7, 2014, Robert Edsel’s The Monuments Men will be in your local movie theater, while Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places will show up in September.  I won’t recommend either film, but I won’t put the kabash on going to see either of these movies either.  Why?  Because the book is always better than the movie, and I loved both books.

dark placesHaving read these two wonderful novels back-to-back, it was interesting to sit back afterwards and think about how they would translate into film.  Dark Places seems ripe for translation to screen, while I really struggled to see how The Monuments Men will work in another medium.  Of course, lots of books seem like they’ll make great movies and end up being, eh, not-so-good on the big screen.  Take one of my all-time favorite flicks, The Godfather, and one of my favorite television series, Game of Thrones, a a pair of examples.  The movie/show is amazing.  Until you read the books.  Writing rich in detail, plot lines that twist and turn, and small but important characters are dulled, dropped and deleted from film editions.  For me, that sometimes makes the movie a disappointment, even though I understand the difficulty of taking a book to the big (or small) screen.

The Monuments Men was a fantastic tale of war, friendship and adventure that I really do not see making a good film at all.  The production company has enlisted a stellar cast and, I’m sure, not spared a dime in its efforts to create a success.  With pages and pages of moviesfootnotes following the story’s end, it’s hard to imagine how that much history will appear on screen.  Intricacies in the characters’ relationships, in their missions and the history lessons they teach the reader won’t be easy to put on film, and to be honest, I’m not sure I want to see it there.  Each sentence that doesn’t make it from the text to the script will feel like a gaping hole in the tribute to a group of people who fought valiantly to save both our own culture and the enemy’s.

Dark Places, on the other hand, is sincerely a thriller.  This is one I can’t wait to see.  The novel’s plot, characters and design beg to be taken to the movies.  I’ll be interested to see what is left out of the film, and unlike with The Monuments Men, believe absences won’t necessarily hurt the genuineness of Flynn’s story.

In in the end, I expect to find The Monuments Men a let down, but wholly expect to enjoy Dark Places.  Nothing can ruin the books for me, but the books sure can ruin the movies.

Meredith

Do you think books make good movies?  What are your favorites?

A Dog’s Purpose

Traveling through time with four distinct canine narrators, W. Bruce Cameron’s novel A Dog’s Purpose is both heartwarming and honest.  We personify our pets every single day but rarely take into account their perception of our species.  To see the world through a dog’s eyes is an innocent and simple interpretation of the crazy, and often times emotionally complicated, world we live in.  Cameron’s lead character is a perfect specimen of canine mentality and his story will make you laugh right through your tears.

A novel by W. Bruce Cameron

A novel by W. Bruce Cameron

Born for the first time as Toby, the multi-lived lead dog is part of a feral family and must learn to survive on his own.  When Toby’s life has ended, he is reborn as the loveable Bailey, who immediately wonders why he is living again and what, exactly, his purpose is.  As Bailey, he learns to love and “most important[ly]” take care of people.  Living to old age, he is born once again as Ellie, a search and rescue dog.  Moving through training and work as police dog, Ellie is taught to Find, Show and save people, while she continues to wonder what her purpose is.  After a fourth rebirth, this time as a Black Lab who goes through several owners, Buddy arrives with many lives worth of lessons at his final destination and finally discovers his purpose.

Cameron’s narration isn’t that of a human, but of a dog everyone has known.  Neither Toby nor any of the dogs he becomes in his other lives understand English, though over the course of these lives, he does pick up certain words.  As any dog would see it, most of the English language is unimportant.  As far as dogs go, they know what they need to.  Phrases such as ‘good dog’, ‘bad dog’ and ‘cookies’ are staples of each incarnation’s vocabulary.  Nailing down the infamous selective listening that every dog perfects in infancy, Toby’s opinions will make you laugh out loud while his attempts to figure out what his people want will have your eyes welling as they search the room for your own four-legged friend.

Just as the cover shows, every one of the dog’s thoughts seem to appear on the page straight out of a thought bubble.  Honest, unedited, innocent and uninhibited by a complicated human mind, Toby’s narration is spot on.  It’s wonderful to be taken along with Toby on his journey to discover just exactly what a dog’s purpose is.

A fast, fun read that will make you swing from sentimental sap to laughing caninophile, dog lovers can’t miss this one.  Even non-dog lovers will find Cameron’s tale a joy, and with its very own sequel, A Dog’s Journey, readers are sure to enjoy the continued search for a dog’s purpose.

Read, Eat, Write, Run.

After a strenuous weekend where I penned not only my regular posts, but also my first book and restaurant reviews, Monday was back to the easy stuff: work and working out.  I had expected writing a book review to be a serious challenge, and it was, but evaluating a restaurant was tougher than I anticipated.  Of course, choosing a 958 page behemoth to write my first ever literary retrospective about was probably not one of my better moments of forethought and that mistake made just about anything, especially writing a restaurant review about somewhere I’ve frequented for three years, much more brain friendly.  After posting my restaurant review and leaving one last edit of my book review for Monday, my exhausted mind gave me a good reason to hit the hay early Sunday night and I headed into Race Week well rested.

I began my Race Week Blogging by finalizing and posting my review of A Dance with Dragons, then moved on to Race Week Training with a fast two miler Monday afternoon that felt amazing.  The weather was warm, but the notorious humidity was low and a mild breeze kept me cool.  I turned in a time that made me really happy and was feeling great about all of the week’s training and, of course, my race.  Good thing I went into today, Tuesday Two A Day, feeling good.

Putting my last Tuesday Two A Day before Fall Season 2013 kicks off in the books meant starting with 6x200M sprints on the Boardwalk.  After a half mile warm up and a few minutes spent stretching out my hips, quads and hammies, I was still hyped from Monday’s pretty great two miler.  In order to get my Garmin 210 set up for intervals by accessing the aptly monikered Interval screen, I held down the Menu button.  That’s when I accidentally selected the also aptly named History screen.  My closest running buddy has been having trouble pulling up my GPS tracked history lately, and today it full on froze.  Out for a run that was going to be less than two miles, yet here I was sitting on a bench holding down three of four buttons on a watch that was obviously mad at me.  At this point, my feeling good was replaced by strong, to fairly strong, irritation.  Luckily for everyone, a timely reset put my electronic device and I once again on the same page.  Feeling good returned as I rocked through my intervals and cruised into North End Crossfit for the second half of my Two A Day.

Irritation raised her head again as I looked at the WOD.  Clean and jerks, toes to bar and more running (!).  Exactly zero of my favorite activities.  I worked to a Clean and Jerk 3 rep max, but didn’t push hard to hit a new PR because I knew there was plenty more coming and wasn’t looking to beat my legs and shoulders up too badly during Race Week.  I pushed through the assigned three rounds and, at the end, was surprised I had been able to find the perfect weight that left me feeling exhausted but not like I was about to lose a limb.  Feeling good returned.

I’m ready to race, and with FitNicePT’s newest program launching Thursday, I’m excited about the rest of the week, too.  Time to pick out something new to read!

Meredith

A Dance with Dragons

a dance with dragonsThe fifth volume of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is the continuation of his epic fantasy but you won’t notice it tale of Westeros’ Seven Kingdoms and their counterpart, The Free Cities.  Inhabited by murderous siblings, the undead, spies, skinchangers and dragons, Martin’s people and lands deliver a story of betrayal and struggle that does not disappoint.  In the tradition of the first four novels, A Dance with Dragons twists and turns in ways the reader won’t see coming, and doesn’t necessarily want to.

The good ones die and the bad ones win in this world of war, leaving hero and anti-hero intertwined as Martin keeps every character’s head hovering above the proverbial chopping block.  Tyrion’s sense of humor and morbidity far outsize his stature as the bitter dwarf spends the bulk of his story simply trying to survive.  The pompous Queen Cersei is thrown in disgrace from her tower in King’s Landing, mischievous Arya Stark reappears blind in the free city of Braavos, and prince Quentyn Martell chases after his slave freeing, dragon wielding child queen Daenerys Targaryan in Meereen.  While ruling the Night’s Watch, 998th Lord Commander Jon Snow is forced to make difficult decisions about handling the always troublesome Wildlings on the other side of his wall as winter continues on its headlong collision course with the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  Religious tension grows around each participant playing the game of thrones as priests and priestesses from each of Martin’s faiths fight for power and the blessing of their own gods.

Told from a myriad of viewpoints, the sheer number of characters can at times become overwhelming, and ensures good use of the who’s who, Houses Great and Small, appendix.  This entry into A Song of Ice and Fire starts to bring the bloody autumn in Westeros to a close and finds characters crossing paths in a crescendo towards book six, The Winds of Winter.  The driving forces behind A Dance with Dragons, Westeros’ impending winter and the struggle of many characters to reach Queen Daenerys in Meereen, could do without some of the points of view.  A bit more time spent with Kevan Lannister in King’s Landing would have been welcome and with the surprise reappearance of the spider Varys in the final pages, I wonder what I missed while watching Tyrion traverse oceans and following Theon Greyjoy as he is beaten across Westeros.

Though lengthy at 958 pages and bulky in the hardcover edition, the quality of Martin’s literature is undeniable and his prowess as a wordsmith mirrors that of Daario Naharis’ sword play.  In creating a world of incredible depth, characters to match and a world where sometimes up is down and down is up, Martin has hidden a fantasy land in the cover of a novel about kings and pawns.  Not a light read, I’d pick something else for the beach, but a rainy day calls for just what Martin has written.  Each of tome of the series is excellently crafted in Martin’s distinct hand and A Dance with Dragons is just as good the first four.  I’ll eagerly await delivery of The Winds of Winter and look forward to seeing what HBO does for the next season of its Game of Thrones franchise.

Beach It

Saturday dawned a gorgeous day and not even a nagging headache could make me want to stay inside.  A short morning run in the sand and Boot Camp were both breezy and cool with a typically beautiful sunrise to match the weather that came with The Great Cool Down.  After a Saturday afternoon nap that managed to clear out my nagging three day old headache and a few very exciting loads of laundry, it was off to a lovely dinner at Rudee’s on the Inlet (I review it here) and a few games of darts in the garage before heading to bed in preparation for a big beach morning.  It wasn’t, and isn’t, very sunny today, likely due to the predicted rain this afternoon, but the clouds kept the crowds away and I was able to accomplish my goal of finishing A Dance with Dragons with only the sound of waves to distract me.

Checking the last page of A Dance with Dragons off my list was the icing on the ‘get stuff done’ list, as a great week of workouts finished up yesterday with three miles in the sand as a final prep in the sand for next Sunday’s Fall 2013 season opener, the Sandbar 5K.  Recently, all of my training in the sand has been barefoot, but as I mentioned last week, I plan to race shod in a pair of old runners.  I wanted to get back into shoes for a training run because I know how much my stride changed when I took them off and could only assume it would change again with them back on.  It did.  My pace increased in the packed sand and the deep stuff was slightly easier to navigate, so I’m happy I’ve decided to race with my rubber soled friends.  This first race week of the Fall season will feature interval speed work, two short, hard runs at 2 and 4 miles, one day of strength training and only one day of rest before the race.  Before a half marathon, I finish running three days before the race and take two days to let my muscles recover before running 13.1 hard miles, but for a short run like the Sandbar, I should be alright with just one.  If I don’t feel good about the race afterwards, I’ll have to sit back and figure out why, then chalk it up to the learning curve.

Something I definitely feel good about, however, is finishing A Dance with Dragons.  Regrettably, closing the cover of it has left me yearning for the sixth tome of George R.R. Martin’s epic to hit his publisher’s desk, but it sounds like it might be a while.  I’ve made mention of the book along the way, but now that it’s all wrapped up, my official review is here.  Next on the shelf is Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, a best seller told from a dog’s eye view of the world.  Like Marley and Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain, I expect a few tearful moments but an overall delightful story.

Now it’s on to Race Week and work to finish prepping for the launch of FitNicePT’s newest program, the Virginia Beach Mother Runners, on August 1st.  The next seven days look to be fairly exciting, and I’m ready to get Fall 2013 under way!

Meredith