Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Mon, 7 Jan 2002 08:53:02 -0500

Dr. Dick


I tried to quit, or at least to cut back for awhile. But this resolution lasted less than a week into the new year.

I'd spent most of the past two years working with Rich Benyo on The Running Encyclopedia. It's the size of two or three of my previous books, so I vowed to make 2002 book-free.

Rich and I worked together so smoothly (which is to say we're still speaking to each other after the intense Encyclopedia years) that he spoiled me for co-authoring with anyone else. I vowed not to enter into any new collaborations.

Then Martin Barnard called. He's my editor at Human Kinetics.

"We've sold out of Fitness Running," he said of the book I'd written with Dick Brown. "We'd like to keep it in print, but the material is showing its age. Can you two do a second edition?"

Sure, that sounds like fun. So much for my vows.

The original Fitness Running didn't properly introduce the main author, Richard L. Brown Ph.D. He's what I'll say about him this time.

NEARLY 10 YEARS have raced past since Dick Brown and I last collaborated on the book Fitness Running. The revised edition will be different because of all that has happened for Dick in the intervening decade.

During those years he coached Suzy Favor Hamilton and Vicki Huber onto the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. He led Marla Runyan into middle-distance running, which would lead her to the 2000 Olympic 1500-meter final under another coach, then into the 2001 World Championships 5000 under yet another.

All of this is to be expected from Dick Brown. He has a long history of coaching world-class athletes, notably Mary Decker Slaney in her best years -- topped by 1983 when she won two gold medals at the World Championships.

Dick is more than a running coach. He also has sent athletes to the Olympics in race walking and cross-country skiing, as well swimming in the Paralympics.

Dick is more than a coach of world-beaters. The methods he prescribes for these athletes scale down well for use by runners of all levels.

Dick is more than a coach. He's a scientist with an intimate understanding of what makes all exercising human beings work -- and how they can work better. He combines scientific knowledge that few coaches can match with practical know-how that few physiologists can claim.

Dr. Dick has an inventive mind. He created the AquaJogger, the most popular flotation device for deep-water training, and holds a patent for the Individual Trainer, a hand-held computer for calculating training efforts.

For all these reasons he is an exercise expert who truly merits the title. His training plans continue to prove themselves, even while he continues to improve them.

The progress of his programs will make the second Fitness Running a different and better book than the one we wrote almost a decade ago. We're lobbying for a title change, to one that better reflects its content. We thought that Fitness Running limited its audience by implying (wrongly) that it offered programs only for reclaiming basic fitness.

The books, old and new, do outline a stay-in-shape program. But Dick pays particular attention to runners who race at track distances 1500 through 10,000 meters, and from 5-K to marathon on the roads. He offers runners a menu of workout options, varying widely in type and degree of difficulty. He then combines these choices into sensible training plans tailored to the runner's goals.

The general principles that support these programs apply to all ages and abilities, and to both sexes. Only the specifics of distance and pace vary for, say, a high school boy trying to qualify for his regional meet, a woman in her 30s trying to make the Olympic Trials, and a marathoner in his or her 50s hoping to win a spot on the Boston starting line.

I'll tell you, readers of the revised book, to decide what your goal is. Then trust Dick Brown, who has helped runners reach the highest levels of the sport, to lead you where you want to go.

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