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Staff Blog: Keep It Simple

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Sep. 24, 2012

In a world full of new technologies and methodologies, sometimes it’s nice to go old school.

One of my favorite training philosophies of all-time is from Jumbo Elliott, the great Villanova track coach, who popularized the acronym K.I.S.S., or Keep It Simple Stupid, when it came to making decisions regarding running workouts.

As an athlete, coach and journalist, I’m exposed to a world full of rapidly evolving technologies and methodologies almost daily, from the latest do-everything GPS running watches that beep incessantly when you exit your “zone” to new training programs that seemingly dictate your every move along with the precise pace and heart rate you should do it at. When I feel weighed down by technology or overburdened by information overload, it can be really refreshing to go old school, shut everything off and return to the simple roots of running.

So, you can imagine my intrigue a few months ago when frequent competitor.com contributor Duncan Larkin asked me to read the manuscript for his new book, Run Simple, A Minimalist Approach To Fitness and Well Being. After getting through 170 pages of stripped down suggestions regarding things like training, technology and nutrition, I was excited that there would be a soon-to-be-released running book that focused on the fundamental elements of putting one foot in front of the other.

Well, that book is here (it has been since June, actually) and I think it’s worth a read for every runner, if for nothing else than to serve as a reminder of how simple our sport was really meant to be. Larkin, an accomplished runner and coach with a 2:32 marathon best to his name, methodically deconstructs the distractions facing the modern runner and presents practical principles aimed at the achievement of one goal: simplifying your running.

In the early pages of Run Simple, Larkin outlines an effective method for running by feel, eliminating the need for for anything more than a basic running watch and using three simple concepts to categorize workouts. He later presents a series of at-home exercises aimed at strengthening and body balance, offers alternatives to expensive running shoes and apparel, advice on individualizing your nutrition to optimize performance and recovery, suggestions for mastering your motivation and strategies for stress-free racing. The book ends with an informative Q & A section for tying it all together and putting simplicity into practice.

True to the title’s name, the book is simply written and a refreshing joy to read. A quick re-read of the training chapter earlier today for the purposes of this review has me inspired me to head out this afternoon for one of Larkin’s staple training sessions, the appropriately named “just run” workout.

RELATED — Staff Blog: Running By Feel

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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