If you want to stay fit for your whole life — even run into your 80s or 90s — Roy M. Wallack’s book “Run for Life” (Skyhorse Publishing, $14.95) provides a blueprint to do just that. Wallack, a fitness columnist for the Los Angles Times and a former editor at Triathlete magazine, has subtitled the new book “the anti-aging, anti-injury, super fitness plan to keep you running to 100.”
But don’t dismiss the book as required reading only for grandpa. Runners of any age can benefit from this catalog of unorthodox advice. In its 320 pages Wallack covers new medical research on running, alternative training techniques, product recommendations, and personal anecdotes that span from the Boston Marathon to the Rift Valley in Kenya.
As a runner — and a younger runner, at age 31 — what intrigued me most was the book’s focus on alternative methods for improving strength and speed. Unlike many books about running, there are no training charts and little information on mileage recommendations or weekly plans. Instead, the book delves into unexpected information about human growth hormone, burst workouts, weight training, and ancillary fitness plans Wallack touts as crucial to long-term vitality.
Many sections in “Run for Life” will not sit well with the running establishment. Lifelong runners may balk at some of the advice from Wallack and the cast of bipedal characters that fill his book, including sections promoting barefoot running, running-specific yoga, and “plyometrics” training in a swimming pool. One section, “The Radical Primal Blueprint,” recommends quitting all long high-heart-rate running regimens in favor of long walks peppered with 20-second all-out sprints.
To me, these sections — though potentially controversial — set “Run for Life” apart. Right, wrong, or somewhere in between, the techniques, regimens, and philosophies from Wallack and the world-class runners and researchers he includes opened my eyes as a distance runner currently stuck in a bit of a rut.
Overall, the book balances research, interviews, and journalism with opinions based on Wallack’s personal experiences — which include 10K races to multiday ultra events. At age 53, Wallack is a living case study in staying fit and vital in middle age and beyond. He writes that after a life of exercise and outdoors activities, he feels better physically today than he did at age 30.
—Stephen Regenold writes a blog on outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.