A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ready to Run Book Review: Part 2 (Chapters 3-7)

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After being plagued by chronic IT band/knee issues, I finally went back to my chiropractor (who performs Active Release Therapy) in hopes of some relief. He recommended the book Ready to Run, by Dr. Kelly Starrett. I immediately bought it off Amazon and got to work reading it. I will provide you my review, thoughts, and anything else I have to say about the book as I am reading it. I have no clue what I will think of the book. All thoughts are my own and are in real time as I read through. 

No one is compensating me for this book review, and I spent my own $18 to buy it. (Okay, it was a gift card. Thank you piano student!!!!)

Chapter 3: Introduction to the Standards

Starrett outlines the 12  standards on must complete in order be Ready to Run. He  then gives some general tips on chasing the standards, such as be patient and keep after it.

The 12 standards are:

1. Neutral feet
2. Flat shoes
3. A supple thoracic spine
4. An efficient squatting technique
5. Hip flexion
6. Hip extension
7. Ankle range of motion
8. Warming up and cooling down
9. Compression
10. No hot spots
11. Hydration
12. Jumping and landing

I feel a little overwhelmed just looking at all of those standards! But I am happy I am doing this little book review, as it will force me to really understand and process what I am reading, since I am trying to relay some of the information to you. One thing I will do after outlining each standard is rate the amount of extra time in my day it will take to reach the standard and also how expensive the standard would be to reach. 

Chapter 4: Standard #1: Neutral Feet

Reading over the 12 standards made me feel a little overwhelmed, so I am glad the first one Starret highlighted was one I don't really need to correct. I naturally walk and run with neutral feet. My feet don't point in or point out. I think the more common one is feet that point out- aka, walking like a duck. Sort of like Meg Ryan... (I don't know about you, but the way she walked always bothered me!)

However he also mentions standing with neutral feet... distributing the weight evenly between the two and not standing cockeyed. That's something I do from time to time so I will have to be more mindful of that. Luckily, I stand a lot at work, so there is a lot of time to practice!

Time Factor: Practically zero extra time during the day. Having an awareness about how I stand doesn't take any extra time.
Money: $0

Chapter 5: Standard #2: Flat Shoes

Okay, here is the standard that scares me the most. Starret believes every runner should transition into a zero drop shoe. He says there is no reason the heel should be raised above the forefoot, even though that is what modern running shoes do. Most shoes have a raised heel of 8-12mm. My Mizunos appear to be 12mm. I have found a company called Altra that specializes and zero drop shoes. They have many options that aren't as minimalist as something like Vibram Five Fingers (I don't see myself ever wearing those) but still feature the zero drop. When I finally get the balls to take the plunge and buy a pair of shoes, I plan to go to Appalachian Running Company to get fitted for the right pair.

Obviously, buying the shoes doesn't fix things overnight. You have to start running very short distances in the zero drop and then work your way up by 10% each week. Otherwise, you are at risk for lots of fun calf, achilles, and foot problems. Starret recommends wearing the zero drop shoes for 10% of your run, then changing into your "normal" shoes for the rest of your run. So what I think I will do for my morning 5 milers is start out wearing the shoes for 1/2 a mile only. If things still feel okay after about a week, I can up the distance to about a mile. I know that means it will take 10 weeks to transition into running my entire run in the shoes, but working your way up gradually is the absolute key.

The one thing I want to figure out is, since I am in a 12mm raised heel, would it be better to slowly work my way down- like get a shoe with an 8mm raised heel, wear that for a few months, then go down to 4mm, and then down to the zero drop? So much to research! Hopefully the experts at the running store will be able to help with that. Or maybe an expert is reading now and could comment on this post with the course of action you think would work the best!?

I know I went on and on about this zero drop thing, but that is because it is one of the standards Starret is steadfast on, and it is also the one that is going to be the biggest change for me.

Time Factor: A little extra time, as I will have to change shoes mid workout. It's more of a patience thing than a time thing- allowing myself to gradually transition into the new shoes.
Money: Shoes are expensive. That's obvious.

Chapter 6: Standard #3: A Supple Thoracic Spine

Remember how your music teacher used to tell you to sit up straight in a singing position? Yeah, you should do that all the time! Starett points out that most of us spend a lot of our days hunched over a computer screen or desk and obviously that bad posture filters right into our running- hunched over, rounded shoulders, head sticking out.

Now, I do not think my running posture is that bad, but I do think I could roll my shoulders back a bit. And as for my sitting posture- if I am not singing or playing an instrument, my posture is horrible! I need to be more cognizant of this. There is no reason I can't sit up straight and tall while I'm watching TV, in a meeting, or writing a blog post... such as this one...

Time Factor: Practically zero extra time during the day. Having an awareness about how I stand doesn't take any extra time.
Money: $0

Chapter 7: Standard #4: An Efficient Squatting Technique

Wow, this chapter really convinces you that you should be doing squats- DEEP squats, correctly. A lot of doctors recommend not squatting past parallel, as it put stress on the knees. The thing is, if you are doing squat correctly, there shouldn't be any stress on the knees. Plus, squatting only to parallel you are not putting your muscles through the full range of motion of a squat.

Starrett outlines two squat tests that every runner should work on passing. The first test is mastering a good, basic air squat. The second test is the ability to do a lot of good squats when fatigued. I will be doing a separate video posts on the different tests Starrett throws out in this book, as I don't was this post to be insanely long. I am definitely going to have to start squatting deeper. I normally squat to parallel or just a little below. That is, when my IT band isn't angry at me...

Time Factor: I will have to incorporate working my squatting technique into the mobility work I do each day. I anticipate the mobility work taking 10-20 minutes, depending on the day.
Money: $0

Do you walk like a duck?
Can you school me on zero drop shoes?
How is your posture on and off the running course?
Do you squat deep?


  1. I have some friends who run in Altras and LOVE them! I'm wary of any advice that suggests you have to completely change how you naturally run...some people are neutral and some aren't. I wonder if focusing on changing this (for people who aren't naturally neutral runners) can cause injuries. The 0-drop debate is one that has always made me nervous!

    I need to seriously work on my posture though!

    1. I guess he argues that no one's heel should be above their forefoot. I mean, unless you walk on your tippy toes- but I don't think anyone walks like that either! We are putting on shoes that raise our heel into an unnatural position and then the rest of our body has to compensate through other unnatural movements that cause injury. Believe me, changing running shoes is the LAST thing I want to do. I was pissed transitioning from Wave Rider 15s to 17s and whined about it for several months. I am secretly hoping if I work on some of the other standards it can fix some of my problems without having to do zero drop....

  2. My coach wears Altras and loves them. I think the research on zero drop is still in progress. I think Vibrams caused a lot of people issues even when transitioned properly. I read Born to Run and that book made a compelling argument for them but I am a total skeptic about everything! Not a helpful comment at all.... hopefully someone else less skeptical will reply :)

    1. I am a skeptic too, but when he explains it, it makes total sense. Why would we force our feet into a position they were not made to be in? And I like that he doesn't say GET VIBRAMS because I just cannot imagine running without any cushioning! It makes the whole zero drop thing seem much more palpable.

  3. I read this book and it was great! I bought zero drop shoes (Altras) and each day after my run do body weight squats in proper form. I try to do other mobility work (within reason) and have start to practice running with my toes straight on easy runs. It's so hard but I feel like my ankles are getting stronger! Dr. Starrett has such hip range of motion for being such a big dude!

    1. Right!? I tried the couch stretch and was like, holy crap, how does he get his whole back against the wall?? I am working on it. Surprisingly, it's my wonky leg that has more ROM than my "good" leg. How are the altras, squats, and other mobility work helping your running? Do you have any nagging pains that you were trying to get to go away or is that just maintenance?

  4. I have read about people who train in both types of shoes! I think there are people who do it like you. :) I have to read more about it- calms me a little to hear that you like Altras!