Cross-Country Running by Jeff Galloway

(author: Jeff Galloway)

I had some hopes for this book having been disappointed with both cross-country books I had bought up to this point. So far only Lydiard’s chapter on cross-country in “Running with Lydiard” has done this great discipline justice in writing. Sadly, Galloway’s  glossy high-end production contains little substance and holds far too many references to “for more on this buy my other book…”.

When you see a chapter in a cross-country book about hill-training you would expect a detailed chapter on how to master this wide and important area for cross-country. What you get is two pages of bullet points with information you would have been hard-pressed not to work out on your own. Where is the expert guidance? Where was the editor to prioritise this content?

The drills are likewise disappointing being merely standard sprinting drills that have been known for the last forty odd years with new names attached to them such as “acceleration gliders”. Advice on race strategies and mental toughness are borderline offensive to the intellect of the reader and the inclusion of the  “Galloway Run-Walk Method” in a cross-country book is puzzling. Had the author pondered the new interesting science showing that fast walking up very steep uphills is almost as effective as uphill running, he would have contributed something more relevant to the cross-country discipline rather than referencing back to an old training technique of the 19th century pedestrians.

The pictures are nice and suggest a book containing information for competitive runners and elite athletes, yet all the advice is for novices (and rarely very novel). Mysteriously, 1 mile, 2 mile and 5k programs make their way into the book when certainly there’s enough publications covering this and a proper look at the varying nature of cross-country races would have been more helpful.

Cross-country still awaits its seminal work, but until it get’s it, you can safely refer to “Running with Lydiard”. This book leaves me with as many unanswered questions as I had before picking it up such as why so much effort was put into repackaging standard running lore and then labeling it a cross-country book.

Verdict: 1/5 (beautiful production values, very disappointing for cross-country specific content)

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Director and coach at Borg Coaching Services
Rene Borg is the head coach of Glendalough AC and a passionate runner competing over all distances and terrains.

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