Book Review: 101 Winning Racing Strategies For Runners by Jason Karp

Click on image to get to the page

At only 152 pages Jason Karp’s book 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners is a quick and easy read. It’s much less intimidating than one of the many process manuals in my workplace! Short needn’t be a bad thing as Karp focuses on the essential details. The book is structured according to themes such as Winning Training for Racing Strategies, Winning Pre-Racing Strategies, Winning During-Racing Strategies, and Other Winning Racing Strategies. By now, you’d have guessed that this book is geared towards those who want to train for a race and to better their timing. It’s perfectly fine if you’re in the sport just for social reasons and to stay healthy. For the rest, this book will give you a framework on how to approach your running and racing in a systematic manner.

Many pointers shared by Karp are not new to seasoned campaigners but with this book, you don’t have to stay in the game for years to learn the hard way.In the first module, “Winning Training for Racing Strategies”, Karp spend some time talking about the importance of training smarter and with purpose. This section resonates with me as a person seeking to improve my racing times on top of a hectic lifestyle and ties in to the training program I’m using presently. Another point that I agree is Tip # 8 “Spend time running at faster speeds” – one simply has to train the body to perform at a level it’s expected to be racing on. Other aspects covered include among many other areas, hills, drills, running economy, intervals, periodization, and training consistencies.

“Winning Pre-Racing Strategies” introduces the mental aspect of racing. Think of it as psy-warfare for racing. Here, you can expect the advice that coaches will drill into their runners, except in this case with the book, you’ll get some benefits (you can’t replace having a coach, really) of having a coach. With sections on mind games, self pep-talk, race planning, working out a sustainable pace, you can be forgiven if you have visions of Sir Alex Ferguson standing in front of you! This was the module that I enjoyed the most. Many of the points put forth are not as obvious to those training without the guidance of coaches.

Racing tactics come next in the third module “Winning During-Racing Strategies”. Here, Karp shares various methods where the runner can employ given various situations. You’ll learn when to sit and kick, whether to run even or negative splits, surging, how to pass others, staying aggressive while maintaining situational awareness. These are just some of the tips given out in this module and once you’re through with this section, you’ll gain an extra measure of respect for the way the elites approach their racing.

The final module “Other Winning Racing Strategies” covers wide ranging topics from understanding estrogen to learning from past races to becoming a tougher runner. I found some of the tips to be fillers eg “Don’t race when fatigued” and “Wear the right shoes” but some may overlook the obvious. Nevertheless I like Tip #78 “Know the why behind the how”.

Some tips are for pretty hardcore racers out to not only win but also create enemies, something most of us won’t be found doing. For example Tips 40 “Get a scouting report of the opponents” and 45 “Say something debilitating to an opponent at the starting line”. I don’t think it’s something Ryan Hall would do or say to Dathan Ritzenhein, for example. But I suppose there will be overachievers out there who will resort (yup, I’m using the “resort” word) to these approaches. Perhaps the world of elite racing is a dog-eat-dog world too 🙂

In conclusion, I find the book to be a very good primer towards performance based running. The writing style is easy to read with little meandering. It therefore gets the information to the runner and out of the way so that the he can get going in shaping up his training program – a training program that suits the level of commitment required to get to their goals. If you want to check the book out, just hit the image at the top of this review.

About the author

Dr. Jason Karp is a nationally-recognized running and fitness coach, freelance writer and author, and exercise physiologist. He owns, a state-of-the-science running coaching and personal training company in San Diego, California. As one of America’s foremost running experts and the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, Dr. Karp is a trusted source of information. Through his writing, conference presentations, DVDs, and numerous print and television interviews on topics related to running and fitness, he brings the state of the science directly to the public. A sought after speaker on running and fitness, Dr. Karp is a frequent presenter at national coaching and fitness industry conferences, including U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, American College of Sports Medicine, IDEA World Fitness Convention, SCW Fitness MANIA, National Strength and Conditioning Association, ECA World Fitness Convention, and FitnessFest, among others. He has taught USA Track & Field’s highest level coaching certification and was an instructor at the USATF/U.S. Olympic Committee’s Emerging Elite Coaches Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. He also holds clinics for runners, coaches, and fitness professionals.

He is a prolific writer, with more than 200 articles published in numerous international coaching, running, and fitness trade and consumer magazines, including Track Coach, Techniques for Track & Field and Cross Country, New Studies in Athletics, Running Times, Runner’s World, Women’s Running, Marathon & Beyond, Fitness Management, IDEA Fitness Journal,, Shape, Oxygen, SELF, Ultra-Fit, and Maximum Fitness, among others. He is also author of five books: Running a Marathon For Dummies (Wiley, 2012), Running for Women (Human Kinetics, 2012), 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners (Coaches Choice, 2012), 101 Developmental Concepts & Workouts for Cross Country Runners (Coaches Choice, 2010), and How to Survive Your PhD (Sourcebooks, 2009).

Dr. Karp has coached cross country and track at the high school, college, and elite club levels. In 1997, at age 24, he became one of the youngest collegiate head coaches in the country, leading the Georgian Court University (NJ) women’s cross country team to the regional championship and winning honors as NAIA Northeast Region Coach of the Year. His personal training experience ranges from elite athletes to cardiac rehab patients. As a private coach and founder of REVO2LT Running TeamTM, he has helped many runners meet their potential, ranging from a first-time race participant to an Olympic Trials qualifier. He has been profiled in a number of publications and received the fitness industry’s highest award in 2011. A competitive runner, Dr. Karp is a nationally-certified running coach through USA Track & Field, is sponsored by PowerBar as a member of PowerBar Team EliteTM, and sits on the advisory board of the Egg Nutrition Center.

Dr. Karp received his PhD in exercise physiology with a physiology minor from Indiana University in 2007, his master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary in 1997, and his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science with an English minor from Penn State University in 1995. His research has been published in the scientific journals Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, and International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. He has taught at several universities and currently teaches dissertation writing at the University of California-San Diego.

Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube:!/runcoachjason

Originally published: October 18th, 2012