I have two gundogs at home. When they are about to be fed, or if they are going to receive a tasty treat, they begin to get excited and bounce around.
I had the same sort of reaction when I opened Brian Clarke's book on training for my two favourite events, the 5k. and the 10k., and I was not disappointed. This is a "must read" if you want to be a more competitive runner.
Runners who are readers will know that there have been many books published on training for the marathon, and in the last few years there has been a greater emphasis on ultramarathon and extreme running events. However, Brian Clarke's book focuses solely on these two shorter events, both of which demand speed and endurance in order for the runner to be competitive at both distances. Clarke gives a nod to slower runners and joggers, but I need to be honest; this book is aimed principally at the competitive athlete who wants an improved performance when racing these distances.
Clarke uses objective criteria to work out the training plan and the level of exertion required; a heart rate monitor is essential so that work rate and the level of exertion can be measured accurately. Using objective criteria, training is categorised into six bands, (from mild to maximum, one level beyond "ragged edge"). Clarke makes two assumptions: that the athlete is willing and able to do the planning so that the correct schedule is designed, and that the runner has the time and the ability to execute the programme.
However, in addition to using pure data, Clarke focuses on the energy level required for the training. This is what makes this book so engaging; there is an acceptance that our body needs abundant energy to perform at its peak, and if sufficient energy is not there then the schedule has to be amended so that the level of stress is reduced.
Clarke takes the reader through the various programmes required to be the complete package on race day, with tailored plans and logs to chart your progress.
In summary, it's a great book and one to which I shall refer constantly for guidance on my training and racing. Clarke makes it clear that there are no easy options, but like so much in life, the investment produces the rewards.