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The Complete Book Of Running For Women [Paperback]

Claire Kowalchik
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 1999
More women than ever are discovering the unique benefits of running -- for stress relief, weight management, endurance, and self-esteem. Women's bodies are not the same as men's, and though we can train just as hard and with the same passion for excellence, we have certain special concerns. Finally, there is a comprehensive guide exclusively for women who experience the pure joy of running, or want to.
It's the simplest, fastest, most accessible way to fitness and good health known to woman. You don't need a partner, equipment, or even much time. Now, Claire Kowalchik, former managing editor of Runner's World magazine, answers every question about the overwhelmingly popular activity that builds endurance, melts fat, and even prevents illness. In this total running book for women, you'll learn:
  • How to get started and stay motivated
  • What to eat for optimal nutrition
  • How to run during pregnancy and after menopause
  • Why running is the most effective form of exercise
  • How to prevent and treat injury
  • What to wear -- from sports bras to running shoes
  • How to prepare for everything from a 5K to a marathon

Authoritative and friendly, The Complete Book of Running for Women is a sourcebook for both beginners and long-time runners. Along with wisdom drawn from the author's personal experience, you'll find advice from the experts: coaches, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, doctors, and other women runners. Including question-and-answer sections and a complete list of resources, The Complete Book of Running for Women tells you everything you need to know to be off and running toward better health and richer living.

Frequently Bought Together

The Complete Book Of Running For Women + The Beginning Runner's Handbook, 3rd revised: The Proven 13-Week Walk/Run Program + Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance
Price For All Three: CDN$ 44.15

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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Claire Kowalchik is the former managing editor at RUNNER'S WORLD magazine. She has run eight marathons, countless road races, and is an assistant instructor for a women's running group.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One: Running for the Body
Better to hunt in fields, for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught.
The wise, for cure, on exercise depend;
God never made his work for man to mend.

-- John Dryden, Epistle to John Driden of Chesterton (1700)

Why take up running? Because it is the simplest, fastest, most accessible way to fitness and good health known to woman. You don't need a partner; you don't need equipment, a court, or a gym; and you don't need much time. A mere 20 minutes three or four times a week is enough to make you fit, although most of us find that 20 minutes isn't enough to satisfy our desire to run.
Those who say they haven't time for running are simply making excuses. The morning, before the family wakes or work begins, is free time for most of us. If not, how about during your lunch hour or after you come home from the office? Just 20 minutes. It might seem difficult at first -- even the slightest changes in routine can take some getting used to -- but before you know it, you'll be figuring out ways to find 30 minutes, 40 hour for running.
Then there are others who say running is just too hard, too painful. They wrinkle up their noses at the mere thought of it. Running is hard, but that's one of the reasons we love it. We feel special as runners because we can endure. Besides, running gets easier. The reason many people say it's painful is because they go out for their first run and virtually sprint for as long as they can -- which isn't very long -- with their chest heaving, their tongues lolling, their muscles straining until finally they can go no farther. They stop and pant, hands on their hips, wobbly kneed. "I -- gasp -- hate -- gasp -- running," they say.
So would I if I ran like that every day. Running is not an act of will over body -- the brain whipping the legs to go as fast as they can as long they can (except when you really are sprinting). When you're running, your mind and body work in tandem toward an enjoyable continuum of movement over the ground. In the beginning, when your body is not yet capable of blazing speeds, your mind should say, Okay, slow down. Let's go at a pace that's comfortable for you.
Now that you don't have any excuses not to start, here are several reasons to begin running if you haven't already and to continue running if you have.

Running Is the Quickest and Most Efficient Means of Weight Loss
Let's compare running to another popular and convenient fitness activity -- walking. In 20 minutes of running at a relaxed 10-minute-per-mile pace, a 130-pound woman burns 200 calories. In 20 minutes of walking at 15 minutes per mile (a brisk pace), a 130-pound woman burns only 72 calories. Of the 200 calories burned running, roughly 100 come from fat and 100 from carbohydrates. The 20 minute walk burns 54 fat calories and 18 carbohydrate calories. Furthermore, studies show that running increases your resting metabolic rate (meaning you burn more calories even when you're not active) and improves your body composition by reducing body fat. The clear result of all of this is a leaner, trimmer figure.
Vanity aside, managing your weight is one of the most important things you can do for your health, well-being, and longevity. Obesity is a heavy contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, breast cancer, and diabetes.

Running Reduces Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, the Number-One Killer of Women
In the Nurses Health Study of 73,029 women aged 40 to 65, conducted by JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, the rate of heart attack was found to be 44 percent lower among the most active women compared with those who were sedentary.
Running has several effects that lower your risk of cardiovascular disease:
  • Running strengthens your heart.
  • Running reduces the risks of blood clot formation.
  • Running lowers blood triglycerides (fat).
  • Running lowers total cholesterol levels.
  • Running raises levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as "good" cholesterol.
  • Running prevents the stiffening of arteries that comes with age.

High mileage seems to have the best effect on raising HDL cholesterol levels, whereas running faster is better for lowering triglycerides, according to a study by Paul T. Williams, M.D., of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California. Williams's research looked at 1,837 female runners who were grouped according to weekly mileage: 0 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 or more miles. HDL cholesterol levels rose with mileage -- those in the 40-plus mileage group showing the highest levels. Also, as mileage increased, heart rate and body mass index (BMI; a calculation of weight based on height) decreased. Williams concluded that women who run 40 miles or more a week decrease their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 45 percent. He pointed out, however, that significant benefits are accrued at lower levels of weekly mileage as well.

Running Lowers Your Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Williams also noted in his study that running lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Though the women who put in more weekly mileage showed the lowest figures for blood pressure and pulse, Williams found that fast running seemed to have an even greater effect -- a good reason to do speed training and take up racing.

Running Reduces Your Risk of Stroke, the Second Leading Killer of Women
Given that running helps lower blood pressure and keeps the cardiovascular system healthy, it's not surprising that it can also help prevent stroke. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and reported in the British Medical Journal (July 24, 1993) compared 125 men and women who had just had their first stroke with 198 men and women who had never had a stroke. In looking at the activity levels of these groups, the researchers concluded that vigorous exercise -- defined as running, swimming, cycling, and other strenuous activities -- "confers substantial protection against stroke. These effects were seen in both sexes and all age groups." The Nurses Health Study also shows that exercise prevents stroke, finding that active women have a 42 percent lower rate of stroke than do sedentary women.

Running Lowers Your Risk of Breast Cancer
For several years, health experts have suspected that physical activity may lower the risk of breast cancer, and recently a significant study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine supports this theory. Over a 13-year period, researchers in Norway studied 25,624 women aged 20 to 54. They grouped these women according to level of activity: sedentary, moderate exercisers ("those who spent at least four hours a week walking, bicycling or engaging in other types of physical activity"), and regular exercisers ("those who spent at least four hours a week exercising to keep fit and participating in recreational athletics" plus "those who engaged in regular, vigorous training or participated in competitive sports several times a week"). They found that the regular exercisers -- the most active group -- had a 37 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared with the sedentary group. The moderate exercisers showed a 7 percent lower risk.
When looking only at premenopausal women, the risks of breast cancer were even lower with physical exercise. "Our results support the idea that physical activity protects against breast cancer, particularly among premenopausal and younger postmenopausal women," the researchers concluded. The theory behind the protective effects of activity is that vigorous exercise, such as running, may suppress the secretion of estrogen and progesterone, which have been linkedto breast cancer. Also, the lower levels of triglycerides seen in physically active women reduce the amount of estrogen in the bloodstream.

Running Enhances Your Immune System
Most runners rarely get sick, and the reason is that running boosts the immune system. Researchers have determined this by measuring blood levels of lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack disease-causing antigens) and finding higher concentrations during and after exercise. It seems your body reacts to running as if a foreign invasion were occurring, and it recruits an army of lymphocytes to allay the onslaught. (During extremely long runs, however, especially those of high intensity -- such as the marathon -- so many lymphocytes are called into action that the reserves become depleted. Your immune system then becomes depressed, and you become more susceptible to illness. This is why runners often come down with a cold after a marathon. You can also wear down your immunity by running too many miles at too high an intensity in your regular training.)
Running also prevents that natural decline of immunity that occurs as we age. In 1993, David Nieman, Ph.D., and colleagues at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, compared the immune systems of active elderly women (who had been exercising aerobically for more than an hour a day for several years), sedentary elderly women, and sedentary young women aged 19 to 25. They found that the activity of T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells-two types of lymphocytes essential to immune function -- was significantly higher among the active elderly women than in the sedentary elderly group and comparable to that seen in the young women. "The T-cells of the elderly active women were functioning like those in women half their age," says Nieman. Other good news: a 1997 study of women, activity levels, and causes of death showed that those who were most active had a considerably lower risk of death from respiratory diseases than did sedentary women.

Running May Prevent Diabetes and Help Those with This Disease to Manage It More Efficiently
Running burns glucose (blood sugar) for energy, which helps prevent glucose levels from rising too hig...

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete and wonderful book about running! Feb. 3 2004
By Erin
This book is amazing! I am a beginning runner and read this book from cover to cover. It is EXTREMELY helpful! There are chapters that cover everything from selecting running shoes, evaluating running surfaces, running while pregnant, running during menopause, etc. My favorite item is a 10 week beginner's running schedule that lays out a very easy run/walk plan that culminates in the ability to run for 30 min (about a 5K). For you advanced runners, there are also schedules with much higher mileage, i.e. marathons or half-marathons.
Kowalchik covers issues for all runners as well as issues specific to women. She also addresess topics such as nutrition, cross-training, and injury prevention.
This book is ideal for the beginning to advanced runner. This book definitely helped and motivated me. Give it a try.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Running Bible! Feb. 17 2004
By breazey
This book is EXCELLENT, I think I have read it cover to cover probably at least 3 times. It covers EVERYTHING you need to know about running, including nutrition, training, weight concerns, motivation, racing, and special women concerns such as pregnancy and menopause. I ran only a one short race when I recieved this book as a gift, and as I read it I became SO inspired that I decided to do a marathon! Through all my training, I think I referenced back to this book at least every other day, and the answer I was looking for was always there. Never in my life did I think I would EVER run 26 miles, but now thanks to this book and becoming so inspired, I can proudly say for the rest of my life "Once when I was 24 years old, I ran a marathon . . . "
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Women- be cheetahs! March 2 2002
Written by a woman for women, this book covers all the bases. Whether you are a winged-foot goddess or a beginning plodder, you will not regret buying this book when you see the good organization, nice layout and interesting anecdotes. Training for a marathon? This book gives a good program that, one coupled with maybe one other marathon book such as "Four Months to a Four hour marathon" could be all you need for running. This book gives some of the best speed workout suggestions that I have seen, building you up depending on experience. Strength training section is quite decent, and with a pair of dumbbells from the Salvation Army or something, you can add a lot to your running. There are pace charts, nutrition charts, height and weight charts galore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Running for Women May 6 2002
This has got to be the best book ever written about running for women, and not because it's the only one I've ever read! Indeed, this book is so crammed full of vital information that, once read, you'll need to go back through it again and take notes to remember it all. After a year of self-controled weight loss and fitness improving, and at the ripe old age of 47, I discovered running for the first time in my life. I decided to test my skill at a charity 5-K, and I bought this book in time to read it before the race. The only thing it didn't adequately prepare me for was the feeling I got as I turned that last curve and headed for the finish line! Talk about your runner's high! If you only buy one book about running for women(and indeed, after you read it you'll only need this one), get this one. I highly recommend it and would someday like to personally thank Claire for writing it! Thanks to her, I not only ran the entire 5-K, but I set a personal best! Get it, and good luck!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect book for female runners! Nov. 27 2001
I loved this book. I'm 17 years old, going on 18, and just took up running in early August 2001. I didn't really know much about things like warming up, stretching, and other ways to prevent injuries. And so, in 3 1/2 months or so, I've suffered 3 injuries. First, an injury to my lower left ankle, that took over 3 weeks to heal and then came back for about a week about a month later. Then I had an ITB problem (left leg) that only kept me from running for 3 days or so. Now I'm suffering from a pulled muscle in my upper right thigh that occured about 2 1/2 weeks ago. While I wait for it to heal, I'm reading everything I can about injury prevention, and this book seemed like it would be a good book for that, and also a good overall running book. This book is really amazing. There's tips on everything from nutrition, injury prevention, race training, cross training
(for when you're injured or just need a rest), speedwork, motivation, what to wear, and anything else you could possibly need to know. I highly recommend this book.
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By A Customer
This book makes every woman feel as though they can achieve anything by giving the motivation to do everything. It not only gives the facts, but it gives reasons to run, how to run, where to run, everything you need to know about running, especially for a woman. It first gives you the health reasons to run and then gives you REAL reasons--to make yourself proud of your self. The book not only gives motivation, it gives you ways to keep up the motivation, and not get sick of the running, because we all know we can keep up with a schedule for a week and it is all over. But, this book makes it so its all over when YOU WANT it to be over--never! The book hits every point that a normal running book would, but it also hits every point a woman needs to hear. It is a great book. So, if you need motivation, reason, facts, and ways to achieve your goal, well, Get This Book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!
Truly comprehensive, covering all topics. I especially enjoyed reading the sections on weight loss and body image, and PMS. The author has so many good tips. Read more
Published on June 28 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Good overview-- some parts too superficial
There's a lot of filler here that smacks of magazine article "sound bite" type writing --I mean it sounds great, but I like a little more depth and explanation. Read more
Published on March 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars This book teaches you great things about running!
This marvellous book simply goes through all of the facts you need to know about running. It gives you a new perspective of how simple and benificial running can be. Read more
Published on May 31 2002 by Bernadette Lenardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for "former atheletes" getting back into it!!!!
Tremendous!!!! As a former athlete who got distracted and lost sight of the pure joy and importance of regular physical exercise and struggling to get back there, this book is... Read more
Published on March 13 2002 by M. Fairbank
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is so inspiring!
This book is really great! It's written well with so much information that is broken down in easy-to-understand chapters. It's exactly what I was looking for! Read more
Published on March 11 2002 by B. Ordway
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I really enjoyed this book and found it very easy to read - especially for a reference book.
I've got my first race coming up this weekend, and Claire's motivational and... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2002 by Gabrielle McCann
3.0 out of 5 stars Get it at the library.
I bought this, looked at it for a week and haven't gone back to it since. This book offers interesting information on training and taking care of your body, but I don't think I'll... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner!
I have never been a very athletic person and at 38 I decided I would try running as a way to burn off those extra calories and relieve stress. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2001 by Sarah J. Mulkern
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