“Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, your ultra race begins with solid training.” – Hal Koerner
Even if you’ve been around ultrarunning for a very short time, you have certainly heard of Hal Koerner. One of ultrarunning veterans, Hal has won both Western States and the Hardrock 100, and completed more than 130 ultramarathons around the world. It is no surprise that Hal wanted to leave an even more lasting legacy by publishing Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning (VeloPress) in conjunction with Adam W. Chase.
The book is loaded with content that will set a beginner ultrarunner on a right path as they set off on the journey of their life. Topics range from getting started in ultrarunning, training, nutrition, gear, taking care of yourself, dealing with various environmental situations, race day strategy and finally sample training plans. Hal writes in a conversational style that is very easy flowing. The book can be read cover to cover, or it can serve as a reference guide at a later date. Hal goes into details to explain each topic, followed by personal experience from life on the trail. Anything and everything you may encounter while ultrarunning is found and explained in this book. Throughout the book, you will find Expert tips that in themselves would make an excellent guide for ultrarunning and training.
Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning, does a great job of introducing the sport of ultrarunning to beginner and seasoned runners that are thinking about venturing into ultras. It provides a great overview of what one can possibly experience out on the trail. Hal’s personal examples serve as a reminder that not everyone is perfect, and that even elites can experience pain and discomfort. Even though they make it look easy while out on the trail, they are human too, and readers will get to know Hal on a more personal level through his triumphs and falls.
Hal’s top 10 things of do’s and do-nots on race day are worthwhile pages to refer to each time you are about to race. They serve as a good reminder of what you should be prepared for. Sometimes these things are easy to forget, so it is always good to have a quick reference in a stressful pre-race prep situation.
While the book does a great job of introducing ultrarunning to beginner ultrarunners, some might feel that the training plans fall just a tad short of their intended goal. The plans themselves are a great starting point, however the weekly mileage goals might be a bit high for someone that is about to jump into ultras. That being said, Hal does a great job explaining the mileage and how to listen to your body. If you are unsure that you can hit those mileage goals, it is easy to adjust the plans accordingly. The Training Plans chapter could benefit from one more section explaining few terms and workouts in the plans, namely two-a-day workouts and additional mileage days.
As there are not many books about ultrarunning out there, this field guide is a wonderful edition to any ultrarunner’s library. It is an easy and quick read that I went through in couple of days. While the read is quick, content in this book is invaluable for any runner. It is certainly more geared toward a beginner ultrarunner, but veterans will certainly find valuable tips and tricks of the trail. The book will serve as great reference point for those times when you just need to look something up on the go. By publishing this guide, Hal has set himself up another bar in the ultrarunning world.
The book is available now at all major bookstores.
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Disclaimer: This book has been provided to Trail and Ultra Running free of charge, without any obligation to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed in this review are author’s own opinion of the book.