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  • Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

Running for the Average Joe: Review of Bill Watts's Running Book

Updated: Jan 18

I read about Bill Watts in the February 2018 Fitness Issue of Endurance Sports & Fitness magazine. We are both featured. I discovered he published a running book. I connected with Bill and he sent me the PDF version of Running for the Average Joe.

Watts refers to himself as an "average Joe." He defines the 'average Joe' as a "normal able-bodied person who may not have taken the opportunity to run. People like you and me." And that includes the 'average Jane' in chapter 9 - Women's Running.

At first Running for the Average Joe might come across as a bit overwhelming to the average reader. It is jam-packed with everything you need to know and more, from A - Z, about running. The book is very methodical and well-organized. Each chapter (there are 18 total) follows the same format and contains color and black & white photo(s), illustrations, and diagrams. Watts provides a series of additional tips in each chapter, challenges to readers, and motivational quotes from nonrunners and runners alike such as Thomas Jefferson, Muhammed Ali, Lucille Ball, Michael Jordan, George Sheehan, Steve Prefontaine, and even a few from Watts himself. He also includes anecdotes called My Story about his health journey, training, and running experience. Along the way, Watts also busts some running myths.

Bill Watts - 2017 Greenland 50K
Photo courtesy: Bill Watts

Running for the Average Joe is well-researched and comprehensive. Each chapter is a walking encyclopedia chock-full of everything you need to know about running. You will learn about the history of running, running legends, running psychology and physiology, nutrition, strength training, setting goals, training plans, and so much more in great detail. The accompanying photos and science book like illustrations in many of the chapters will keep you wanting to read more.

Visually, the chapter on equipment and safety reminds me of a Sears catalog. I've never seen so many color pictures of socks, underwear, and leggings in one place. One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 12 - Strength and Conditioning. The detailed information and the pictures have motivated me to really challenge myself when it comes to strength and conditioning.

I have been training and running competitively every year for the last thirty years. I identify with and relate to every chapter in Running for the Average Joe. The book is very engaging. I found myself adding tips to Chapter 7 - Injuries. Use duct tape to help with blisters. Learn proper gait and walk barefoot in your home to help heal plantar fasciitis. If you enjoy science books, you'll love this chapter. It was a bit overwhelming for me but definitely a good read. Running for the Average Joe also comes with a glossary of running terms and a useful index for quick reference.

Watts, an IT systems engineer, has improved his health and lifestyle through running. He has run over 300 races - a mix of 5Ks, half-marathons, marathons, and 50Ks. His undeniable passion for running, his running experience, and how running can change a person's life for the better will get folks, who need a little nudge, to start putting one foot in front of the other.

Lifelong runners will also benefit from Running for the Average Joe (and Jane). I share extreme athlete Marshall Ulrich's sentiment when he writes in the forward to Running for the Average Joe: "Having been a runner over 37 years, I thought I knew a lot about running. But Bill has taken every aspect of running, physiologically and mentally, then dissected it, examined it, and related it to us in a useful way."

So don't be an average reader! Read and run! Get your hands on Running for the Average Joe and improve your health and lifestyle. The book will get you to the start so you can get to the finish of your first race and subsequent races, no matter the distance. This comprehensive and reader-friendly book is a must have for anyone seeking to improve their health and life style through the physical act of running, and to becoming a better runner.

If you are a beginner runner, add Running for the Average Joe to your reading list. If you are an experienced runner, add it to your collection of running books. You will learn a thing or two about the many aspects of running you may have overlooked and want to improve.

Bill Watts - 2009 Denver Marathon
Photo courtesy: Bill Watts

Copyright 2018

I am the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. You can order the book here from from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble.

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