Tag Archives: book review

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.


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.


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

The Eighty Dollar Champion

the eighty dollar championThe Eighty Dollar Champion, by Elizabeth Letts, is a bestselling novel that takes you on an incredible journey with a man, his family and his unlikely equine champion.  Chock full of feel-good, the story of Harry de Layer, his wife and children and their rescued plow horse, Snowman’s tale is a pleasure to read.

An amazing true story, The Eighty Dollar Champion is bound by history and serves it well.  Beginning with the de Layer’s departure from a war-torn Holland, Letts follows them from their arrival in the United States through their first several homes before they settle in on Long Island for the long haul.  A simple riding instructor at a private school for girls, Harry de Layer dreams of making a living with his own horses.  In a country racked with Cold War tensions, post-war hardships and an emerging middle class, de Layer struggles to find the financial footing to show his own horses.

When Harry rescues a beaten down, cosmetically damaged $80 horse from a slaughterhouse truck for the lesson program he runs, he has no idea what lies in wait for both himself and the former plow horse.  Named Snowman by the de Layer children, the big white equine is slowly rebuilt, and through a series of humorous events, discovered and trained to jump.  From crashing through small obstacles to soaring over fences taller than a man, Snowman takes Harry and his family on an awe-inspiring journey from nowhere to the top of the equine world.  Up and down the Atlantic Coast for horse shows he could barely afford to attend while balancing his family and riding instructor duties at school, de Layer’s desire to win on his own horse is more than admirable.  With a dream strong enough to turn down a blank check for The Eighty Dollar Champion’s purchase, Harry and his very own horse win the Open Jumper Championship at The National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden in 1958.  Propelled to worldwide fame by the victory, Snowman and his family were some of the first outsiders to be welcomed into the haute couture of equestrian sport in the 1950s.  As they made their way in a changing horse show world and Harry achieved his dream, the de Layers were the everyman that inspired a population desperately in need of something to distract them from the brutality of real life in Cold War era-America.

Steeped in history, Letts’ writing is emotional, honest and accurate.  Moments when the story attempts to get bogged down with historical detail are shaken off by moving glimpses into the relationship between Harry and his beloved Snowman, and when the bond between man and horse can be hard to capture, Letts excels.  Snowman and Harry ‘The Flying Dutchman’ de Layer deserve the gentle touch Letts gives them and she successfully brings the entire cast of The Eighty Dollar Champion into the living room with you.

Snowman’s story is sure to delight and inspire any horse, underdog or long shot lover.  Readers will undoubtedly enjoy burning through a tissue or two during the journey from cover to cover.  Go get your copy of The Eighty Dollar Champion today!

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.

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.