Book Review: Relentless Forward Progress – A Guide to Running Ultramarathons

Anyone who has become interested in running ultramarathons and has scoured the Internet for training resources has undoubtedly heard of this book. And for good reason. From training strategy and trekking poles, to the importance of electrolyte balance and preserving the environment, Relentless Forward Progress (RFP) is a robust, comprehensive resource for all things ultra.

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The book is written by veteran ultramarathoner and coach Bryon Powell. As the creator and publisher of popular ultrarunning website irunfar.com, a contributing editor for Trail Runner and an advisory board member of the American Trail Running Association, Powell has a wealth of knowledge on the sport. And that’s before you look at his personal ultrarunning achievements, which include: twice winning the under-30 age group at Western States and twice placing in the top ten at Leadville!

Though the bulk of the book focuses on training, it also covers nutrition/hydration, gear, injuries (and how to prevent them), the race day mindset, environmental conditions and responsibilities, as well as the ultrarunning community itself. From the back cover, the book touches upon:

  • Daily training plans for races from 50K – 100 miles
  • A crash course in how to trail run
  • Advice from some of the world’s top ultrarunners
  • Proven strategies for race day success
  • Useful approaches for running uphill and downhill
  • What to look for in ultramarathon gear
  • Practical wisdom on speed work
  • Cross training ideas for running fitness and recovery
  • Tips on running barefoot
  • Inspiration to go farther than you’ve ever gone before

You know how they say “Never judge a book by its (back) cover?” Well, in this case you can – because RFP does a fantastic job covering all the above topics in detail.

Powell also recruited some of the top names in the sport to share their own expertise, strategies and passion of ultrarunning.  From Geoff Roes’ thoughts on speed training, to Dakota Jones’ essay on running trails responsibly, RFP covers nearly every aspect of the run. The chapters are also broken up nicely, making for a fun, easy read that you can easily pick up and set down without getting “stuck” in the middle of a section before you can return to it.

The book has proved invaluable for me in both my training and appreciation of the sport. If you’re looking for a comprehensive book that educates on all the aspects of what it takes to train for, run, understand and –most importantly – enjoy an ultra, I highly recommend this book. My only regret is I wish I would have found it sooner.

-G

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Relentless Forward Progress – A Guide to Running Ultramarathons

    1. You bet! I did the same thing (scoured the internet), but found that this book can really help you lay a solid foundation for a training plan. I got a copy off amazon (used) for $16 bucks shipped — I’d check there! 🙂

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  1. Great review – his 50-miler in 70 miles a week is actually the training plan I’m following (loosely). I was very happy with the book – and it’s my favorite on ultra training that I’ve found!

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      1. Thanks, I ordered the book from amazon last night. All the reviews like yours wish I had this book sooner! My first ultra attempt was 40 mile trail run. Level 4 out of 5 difficulty. Can you say Duh! Got pulled mile 28 due to cut off time. Disappointing but awesome learning. Stay tunned!

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