Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning

OK so I’m a geek.

This is probably not a surprise to anybody that knows me but I have tried hard to present a social media profile which looks cool or at least passably not lame.

In reality, I am a geek cliché.

I wore glasses and went to Chess Club as a kid, I like comic books and graphic novels, Only Connect is one of my favourite television shows (when not watching Michael Portillo’s Great Train Journeys) and I do like to dabble in a bit of VBA.

So it should be no shock that when I started running, I started reading all about it.

There are hundreds of books on the subject which range from very dry non-fiction tomes filled with stats and graphs to philosophical works and diary-style biographies.

Somewhere in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum is Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning (gonna call it HKFGU from now on).

 For those who don’t know, Hal has won some of ultrarunning’s most high profile races including Western States 100 (twice) and Hardrock 100.

He also runs a running store in Oregon and was featured in the 2011 film “Unbreakable: The Western States 100” alongside distance running luminaries Kilian Jornet, Geoff Roes and Anton Krupicka.

If this wasn’t enough, he always has a smile on his face.

If ever there was a man to introduce you to running >26.2, Hal would certainly be a good choice (plus there is a foreword from Scott Jurek if you needed any more convincing).

Not just because of the amount of experience he has, but also the light and humorous approach he takes to it.

There is a lot wisdom delivered and anecdotes about previous races but it is all done in a self-deprecating manner, happily sharing the good, bad and ugly.

Subjects covered include training, nutrition and hydration, gear, environment, race day and three training plans from 50k to 100 miles.

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Suck it up, literally!

The information is broken down into bite-size chunks with grey highlighted boxes for ease of reference

I bought the book for the 100 mile training plan but actually found that the most useful parts were the nuggets about technique and preparation – not technical information more words of advice gained over years of running that I don’t yet have.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that he also says that beer is a legitimate recovery option.

To give an idea of how interesting I found the book, I finished the 192 pages in two days, none of it as a chore and I’m sure I’ll be picking it up again during the weeks leading up to the North Down’s Way 100.

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And I will have plenty of down time as Hal’s plan has me running 1175 miles in the 20 weeks!

Beer and book as prescribed by a master! Sold.

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