Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review - Run Your Butt Off

by Sarah Lorge Butler, Leslie Bonci, and Budd Coates
Rodale Books: 2011

A few weeks ago I purchased three books on running and nutrition as I'm looking for some help in the diet area of the running equation.  If you receive the Runner's World emails, you have heard of this book.  I saw it at our local bookstore (yes, I went to a physical bookstore.  Crazy, right?) and decided to give it a try.

The reason I picked it up was I liked the idea of a book laying out how a runner needs to eat to  be successful.  I had a feeling the running portion would be stuff I already knew since I've been running since 2007, but I'm not against learning more.  Who knows?  Maybe there would be some golden nuggets in here to help me with my running.  I'm a slow runner, so I'll take all the help I can get!

I'll be honest, I did not get as much out of this book as I hoped.  As much as I anticipated it being written at a complete beginner's level, it was more so than I thought.  I'm going to give you what I liked about it and what I didn't and let you make your own decisions.  If you like it and think it will help you, there's a link up there under the image to Amazon, though I did pick it up at my local book store under the fitness section.

1. The authors stress speed is not important in this process.   They encourage you to go out and run about the speed you walk.  I know that sounds counter-productive to what you may think running is, but their goal is to get you to run the program, speed can come later.  When talking to new runner's I say the same thing and not because I'm a slow runner.  I say this because I know how defeating it can feel to go out and feel like you're running so slow that people are walking faster.  It's important to get used to the movement and routine of running; to feel the success of following the plan and increasing the run time and decreasing the walk time.

2. I generally follow the Weight Watchers program for weight loss, but the Run Your Butt Off plan calls for calorie counting.  They lay out exactly how you come to the number of calories you should consume if you do nothing (basically if you want to maintain), then how to determine what you need to consume based on your activity level before exercise.  From there, they explain the concept of cutting x-number of calories from your diet to lose weight.  For the first time, someone explained how to get to the magic number of calories a day without resorting to the generic 1200 a day.  I appreciated this and how they explain that the number of calories per day will decrease as you become fitter.  They include the formula to figure out the number or direct you to Runner's World to do the equation on-line.

3. Personal experience.  I am a sucker for hearing success stories.  Tell me what you are proposing has worked for normal people and I'm more likely to take you seriously.  The book is based on a test panel of 16 real people (yes, the sample size is pretty small).  The authors laid out the results of the test panelists, no sparing the news that not everyone stayed in the program or even lost weight.  Throughout the book, the authors share the stories of the participants, including their name, age, job, goals, starting weight, and ending weight with before and after photos.  Then each participant answers a few questions about their experience with the program.  It helps to see the type of people who participated and finding someone similar to myself in their ranks.

4.  At the end of the book, the authors put a Workbook section with logs for weight, running, and a food diary.  Each of which they encourage you to use throughout the program.  I believe in the food diary and I always enjoy writing down my workouts (I usually use the website Daily Mile).  But, if you're new to this, having something already laid out for you to use rather than being encouraged to do so, but not knowing how to is really great.  


1. Personal pet peeve of mine.  There are lots of pull-out quotes throughout the book.  I love pull-out quotes, if they give you additional information.  If all they do is pull-out a sentence from the text body they are worthless in my opinion.  On almost every page there are pull-out quotes of worthless information.  It bothered me because it is the perfect opportunity to add information, clarify something said, or give an example.  They really were a waste of space.
There are some nice one-on-one information from each of the author's throughout.  These are great.  It is the actual pull-out quotes in teal that I have an issue with.

2. For me, having run for a little over 5 years, the running portion of this book really is for a never before runner.  It's a great start and I appreciate they encourage you to go at your own pace, repeat weeks as needed, focus on yourself and not compare your journey to others, but there isn't much for someone who has been running.  I had hoped for some tips, but there wasn't much.  I say this is a con for me.  For a beginner runner, someone just starting out and nervous about it, it is perfect.  
Believe it or not, with double the positives than negatives, I wasn't really impressed with the book.  My overall impression is the information is basic.  For the most part, I already knew the bulk of it and didn't get much new from it.  Since I was looking for some help in the diet portion, I felt that the information was what you could get anywhere.  Of course, I have been trying to lose weight for years and read as much as I can on the subject in the hopes of reaching my weight loss goal.  I obviously know more than someone starting out.  I get that.  I just felt that the book didn't give me much new to work with.
Overall, would I recommend this to someone just starting out running in the hopes of losing weight?  Yes.  I think it has all the points you need to use running as a method of weight loss.  It's easy to read, takes into consideration a beginner's fears, shares honest responses from the test panel, gives you worksheets to use, and encourages you to keep at it.  But, for the person who is a runner already and is looking for methods of tweaking your diet/running routine it is too basic.
I have not been paid for this review, nor did I receive the book in exchange for a review.  I bought the book on my own in the hopes of helping my diet intake and running. All impressions are my own.


  1. I have this book too. I only read about half of it because I too was not all the impressed. One day I will pull it out and read the rest.

  2. Yea. I think it's great if you are just starting out and want something to lay things out for you, but if you've done any running it's very basic.