In a past post, I mentioned the value of having a coach guiding your training. Unfortunately, that is not a possibility for everyone, for various reasons. Luckily, there are several books on the market today that can help provide guidelines for structuring a training program. These books are even useful for those runners who have a coach, since it never hurts to understand why you're doing certain things, and depending on your coach, the knowledge will give you an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions concerning your training. Different books, of course, are for different purposes and different audiences. The person who would be best served by No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running would be completely overwhelmed by Lore of Running, while someone who eats up the latter would be bored to tears by the former. In this post, I will lay out some of the more popular running books in order to help you decide which books might be most appropriate for you.
Run Strong (edited by Kevin Beck)
Daniels' Running Formula, Second Edition (Jack Daniels, phD)
last week, Daniels' Running Formula is based around the philosophy of VDOT, based on one's recent running performances. Written by the famed Jack Daniels, this book is scientific, as there is plenty of physiology background given for why different intensities should be included in a workout cycle, yet it avoids being overwhelming for someone without a physiology background. Daniels' Running Formula includes sample training programs. It should be noted that some of these workouts can be intimidatingly hard, though if you read the preceding chapters, you should be able to write workouts of your own. Filled with charts, this book is definitely for the numbers oriented runner. It is not for the athlete who prefers to run by feel rather than time and pace, the athlete who eschews a structured training program, nor the athlete who likes to "beat" their times during workouts (unless they're looking for a good reason not to beat their times). Daniels' Running Formula retails for $19.95, but can be found for less at Running Warehouse.
Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to be Your Own Best Coach (Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald)
Better Training for Distance Runners, 2nd Edition (David E. Martin, PhD and Peter N. Coe)
Rating: 4/5 for the scientifically minded runner, 0/5 for everyone else
Lore of Running, Fourth Edition (Tim Noakes, MD)
Rating: 5/5 for the scientifically minded runner, 2/5 for everyone else
Road Racing for Serious Runners: Multispeed Training: 5K to Marathon (Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas)
Full disclosure: I bought all of these books myself.