It is worth noting, though, that I get paid to notice things like this. Furthermore, I'm paid to read scientific and medical journals, so sub-Joyce prose isn't immediately offensive to me, nor is jargon filled verbiage. But it is there. Noted.
Despite that, the book is still crucial, for the right person, and a useful reference for many others. If you're an exercise science dork, or obsessed with the why/how of running, then you need this. If you've read Noakes, Daniels, Pfitzinger, et al., and found yourself wishing there were entire pages spent on muscle fiber adaptations to various paces, then this is for you. Magness seems to presume that such people are probably quite fast, and in fact, cites the self-coached, sub-elite crowd as something of an intended target audience. But, despite his assertions to the contrary, there is a lot here for the intellectually hungry, of all fitness levels.
I can't speak as a coach, given that I'm not one. However, if I'm permitted a moment of imagination, this book would soon be dog-eared, were I advising others. There is a great deal of advice on tailoring plans to individual events, and distinct talent levels/fiber types within those. And the appendices are loaded with workouts, structured by event and intended stimulus. Speed endurance session for a 800m runner? Covered. Marathon specific long runs, peppered with surges, pace work, and all sorts of "stuff"? Covered. Strength circuits? Covered. I'm not kidding when I say that this is worth the money, even without the preceding book. (Of course, the book may be necessary to deploy these correctly. Unless you're already smarter than I am. Which is certainly possible.)
If you like running, and want something to inspire you out the door? Stay away.
The book is called The Science of Running. The title is instructive, and the contents deliver on that promise. It is, to my knowledge, the most comprehensive - widely available to the public - guide to what running is on a cellular level, how it happens mechanically, and how we might improve it. The niche that will appreciate such a book is perhaps not large; but that niche should appreciate this book for that very reason. It is unashamedly dense, esoteric, and ultimately, for me, both essential and fascinating.
A few other notes:
- Though Magness spent some time working at NOP, Salazar is never mentioned by name, that I can find. Nor is he included in Magness' list of coaching influences. Just sayin'.
- Though many coaches are referenced throughout, Canova seems to me most influential to the philosophy and terminology contained.
- There are sample plans here, but they function as just that: Samples of how one might apply his training. There are no plans you are intended to follow yourself, which is precisely the point. Everything depends, and you have to figure out what works for you. The book challenges you, first in understanding it, then in applying what you've learned.
- The references section is a fucking gold mine. So many fascinating citations. An endless rabbit hole.