Not all training guides are created equal. No offense to Hal Koerner, a great coach who’s written some fabulous work for Outside and Trail Runner magazines, but this volume feels like he’s recycling those articles. I was especially hopeful about the training plans included at the end when I picked up Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning, but they were a disappointment. They’re one-size-fits-all and include little detail. For example, one 18-mile long run in the 50K plan is labeled “tempo.” How can 18 miles be a tempo run? Tempo runs are generally 20 – 40 minutes at 1-hour race pace or slightly longer at half or full marathon pace (not that the Field Guide defines tempo anywhere in the book). You can incorporate tempo intervals into a long run, certainly, but doing so calls for a little more guidance. How many? How long? How much rest between intervals? These are exactly the questions one would expect a field guide to answer. That’s exactly the guidance a runner who picks up a book like Koerner’s is looking for. Ultimately, I feel I know about as much about ultra running as I did before reading this book. This is unfortunately not one I’d recommend beyond absolute beginners to trail running.

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