A running book does not always have to be about tempo paces, training blocks, or track & field exploits. Sometimes, reading about running can be lighthearted and humorous. How to Make Yourself Poop and 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know is a deceptively content-dense book nestled in the breeziness of a beach read.
Written in 2018, How to Make Yourself Poop is the creation of Meghan Kita, a former Runner's World writer and Guinness World Record Holder for fastest marathon dressed as a fast food item. Given those serious and fun credentials, Meghan had to write this book! On the surface, the book markets as the perfect runner gift (or gag present); however, at its essence, it is a comprehensive, indexable compilation of every substantive issue of Runner's World over the past decade. Get past the poop, and you will find the content for which the foremost runner's magazine is known.
Running themes form the chapters: 205 Training Tips, 193 Nutritional Tips, 126 Gear Tips, 158 Motivational Tips, 169 Staying Healthy Tips, and 157 Racing Tips. Chapters are split into sub-chapters. A published Runner's World article is the basis for each running tip. The tips begin with a click-bait worthy title ("The Best Way to Tie Your Shoes," "How to Make Yourself Poop") followed by two to three sentences that condense the basis of the original article. The writing is jaunty and crisp. It is easy to skim pages for new learning or search for specific content.
Veteran runners will find much of the book's content familiar, especially given the entries' topical summary. However, most runners, even veterans, will find something new or remind themselves of something forgotten. For me, this was the Introduce, Improve, Perfect ("IIP") framework for a three-week training cycle. The concept is to introduce a new workout on week one. In week two, you increase the activity's difficulty by altering a key detail such as pace, length, or recovery. Week three is for perfection, where you increase the difficulty of the workout once more. You repeat the cycle for another workout the next three weeks.
The Reference section is the unacknowledged hero of this book. Each running tip is a synopsis of a comprehensive Runner's World article that the author notates in the Reference section. Using an internet search engine, you can find the original items for in-depth coverage, including the primary reporting, research, and scientific studies. The book then transforms from a lighthearted read into a dense, well-researched anthology of Runner's World's greatest hits over the past decade.
My lasting critique is the book's encyclopedic feel. Given this was the author's intent, it is hard to fault. Consuming the book is choppy as if you are skimming over crests of waves. Beneath these waves, there is more, but the shortness of each running tip allows you to read quickly and move on to the next. Suppose you do happen to pause on something interesting, sinking into the depth of the original Runner's World material. In that case, this book begins to unlock a wealth of knowledge codified in one of the most significant running publications.
In the end, I wish that the author titled the book to be more descriptive for what it is: The Best of Runner's World through the Years. However, I understand the irresistible marketing lure of How to Make Yourself Poop. I hope by reading this review, runners will see the value beyond the surface. My advice is to flip through the book for interest before purchase. You might find it's content a valuable reference for your shelf. Or, we can all use a great bathroom read.
Best wishes chasing your running goals,