The Big Book of Endurance training

Review :

Phil Maffetone has written a must-read book for anyone interested in fitness. He starts with the idea that a person can be fit and yet not be healthy. Use of steroids and overtraining are two examples that could lead a person to excel (temporarily) in athletics, even as they make themselves less healthy. The book promotes a natural, even conservative approach to fitness and health. For instance Maffatone says that one of the best ways to correct muscle imbalance, pain, and injury is to go barefoot as often as possible. Medicines and braces often improve symptoms, but they interfere with the body's ability to heal itself. Barefoot walking will result in better body awareness and more natural, healthy movement, thus allowing the body to correct problems. the first half of the book was the most interesting and helpful to me. Maffetone argues that people should do most of their training just below their aerobic max (180 minus their age). This will lead to a greater ability to burn fat, reduce inflammation, promote long-term health, and even improve competitive performance. This idea does not contradict mainstream thought, but it is a fairly extreme and specific version of what other coaches suggest. The book states that many athletes have an imbalance in their fitness, with an anaerobic system that's well-developed, but an aerobic system that is under-developed. This causes them to be working anaerobically too much of the time, which leads to burnout, inflammation, injury, and poor health.

In the second half of the book, Maffetone goes into great detail about nutrients, sunlight, alternative therapies, etc. His views on these topics are often outside mainstream thought and therefore controversial. For instance he argues for more exposure to the sun without sunblock (as long as sunburn is avoided). He believes this exposure will lead to higher levels of vitamin D which will promote better health and athletic performance. He goes so far as to suggest that healthy levels of vitamin D will prevent cancer, and sunblock does more harm than good. These ideas are interesting, unusual, and potentially dangerous. If you are a coach, a runner, a cyclist, or anyone who enjoys endurance sports, this book is a must read - at least the first half.

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