The ELEMENTS OF EFFORT: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running by John Jerome

The ELEMENTS OF EFFORT: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running

byJohn Jerome

Paperback | November 28, 1998

not yet rated|write a review

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 85 plum® points

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


All runners, from beginners to Olympians, will delight in this luminous compendium of wisdom wrought from many years of running. Applying his clear vision and wry wit to a smorgasbord of running-related topics, including stretching, dancing, bugs, falling, spaghetti, sweat, and the food police, John Jerome shares his contagious passion for the most basic of sports. Stripping the art of running down to its barest elements, he takes readers and runners with him on a joyous journey -- a run that revels in a profound affection and respect for the single sport that is as pure and simple as it is infinitely complex.

About The Author

The author of ten books, John Jerome has also published articles in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Outside. He lives in western Massachusetts.
Truck: On Rebuilding a Worn-Out Pickup and Other Post-Technological Adventures
Truck: On Rebuilding a Worn-Out Pickup and Other Post-Technological Adventures

by John Jerome


Available for download

Not available in stores

Inspiration and Innovation in Teaching and Teacher Education
Inspiration and Innovation in Teaching and Teacher Education

by Karen Goodnough


Available for download

Not available in stores

The American Military Tradition: From Colonial Times to the Present
The American Military Tradition: From Colonial Times to the Present

by John M. Carroll


Available for download

Not available in stores

Shop this author

Details & Specs

Title:The ELEMENTS OF EFFORT: Reflections on the Art and Science of RunningFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 7.12 × 4.75 × 0.5 inPublished:November 28, 1998Publisher:Gallery BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0671023705

ISBN - 13:9780671023706

Appropriate for ages: 6

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of The ELEMENTS OF EFFORT: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running


Extra Content

Read from the Book

INTRODUCTION The heart is the tachometer of effort. A lot of writers I know keep a small book called The Elements of Style on a shelf right over their desks. Only seventy-one pages long, it is a perfect gem of advice on clear composition, and an entertaining read in the bargain. It's handy to have around. It was written by William Strunk Jr., a professor of English at Cornell, in 1918, intending "merely to give in brief space the principal requirements of plain English." One of Strunk's students was E. B. White, who went on to become one of the most graceful essayists in American letters. In 1959, White revised what Will Strunk always called his "little book," added an introduction, and had it republished. It has never since gone out of print. Writers refer to simply it as "Strunk and White." As a runner and a writer I've always thought we needed a similar basic guide to the principles of athletic training. Ideally it would be expressed not in the Tab-A-in-Slot-B manner of most exercise physiology texts, but with a little more sympathy for the reader -- a sentiment acquired from Strunk and White. "Will felt that the reader was in serious trouble most of the time," said White, "a man floundering in a swamp, and that it was the duty of anyone attempting to write English to drain the swamp quickly and get his man up on dry ground, or at least throw him a rope." For fourteen years I've written The Complete Runner's Day-by-Day Log and Calendar. In composing the monthly essays for the Log, I've tried to gather the most useful principles of athletic effort, weave them into a comfortable form, and link them to the larger phenomenal world in which we run. The principles do not represent all one might ever possibly want to know about athletic training, but if your eyes tend to glaze over at discussions of VO2 max -- or yet another formula for computing the heart-rate range at which the training effect allegedly kicks in -- what follows is an attempt to toss you a few of Will Strunk's handy ropes. Runners are able to run because the body turns food into a molecule that comes with a kind of magnet attached to it. The magnet, a free phosphate radical, leaps to make new attachments, and in that leap releases energy, which powers muscle, which drives us down the road. This may not be the most interesting transaction in the world -- except perhaps for chemistry majors -- but its elemental nature is worth keeping in mind. Running is the most elemental sport there is. We are genetically programmed to do it. One might even say we are the free-ranging, curious, restless creatures that we are because of running. Surely our instinct for freedom is a legacy of this essential mobility. I think freedom itself is the source of running's great appeal. Slip on a pair of shoes, slip out the door, and you're there: free. No commute to a playing field, no teams or uniforms, no dates to arrange. No score-keeping, no rules, no fancy equipment to buy. Try though the gimmicksellers have to complicate the sport, nothing has compromised running's essential simplicity. Simplicity, however, is a quality that, in human affairs, is difficult to hang on to. As instinctively as we are driven to run free, we are also driven to analyze and assess, to pry apart, to deeply know. Just as we have marketeers dreaming up new running fads and fashions, we have scientists -- and a thousand treadmills -- searching out the innermost secrets of human performance, and coaches shepherding their guinea-pig athletes through practical trials of those secrets. We can't possibly know too much about a given subject -- to claim that is to deny our curiosity, which is an essential part of our humanness -- but sometimes it feels as if we do. The Elements of Effort is intended as a celebration of running's original simplicity. It is an attempt to illustrate, in familiar essays, the elemental aspects of running. You do every day's run on your feet, but you also do it in your head. The pieces that follow acknowledge that fact; they are therefore unapologetically personal, as personal as I can make them. Each is a line of thought that came to me while running, that gave me a chance to let my mind go off and play. I hope you'll find in them a suitable collection of ideas to mull over in the course of your own daily runs. The Log from which many of the ideas in this book spring was originated by Jim Fixx in 1979, two years after he published his masterpiece, The Complete Book of Running. That was easily the most popular running book of all time, and after more than twenty years is still the one responsible for getting most of us started in the first place. The Elements of Effort is dedicated to Jim's memory. -- John Jerome Copyright © 1997 by John Jerome

Table of Contents






Running vs. Training



The Web

The Other Half



First Principles

Child's Play


Going Long, Getting Longer


Listening to the Man

Getting off Your Own Back

Warming Up, Cooling Down

Belief Systems

Dancing with Fatigue

Road Thoughts


The Physiology of Confidence

Rain in the Face

Twenty-One Days from Now



Letting Fly

Wallet Protection, Part I

Going Orthopedic

Going Systemic

Two Cultures



Iliotibial Band Syndrome











Taking a Break


World Peace


Deep Recreation

The Heart of a Runner

Inhale, Exhale



The Quiet Body


The W-Word

Check It Out


Going Outdoors

Cutting Apexes

It's the Law

Indoor Thinking



Kettles and Pots


Moods, Part I

Virtual Realities


Good News, Bad News

The Suit of Lead


The Interior Life



Stride Length



Taking Your Time




So What?

The Elixir of Excellence


Watering Up, Watering Down

The Easiest Way

Where the Walls Are


The Annals of Spaghetti, Part I

Energy Budgets

When Fatigue Helps

The Inclinometer

The Glories of Muscle

In Praise of Soreness



When Silence Is Dangerous

Molecular Theory

Like the Wind

A Penny Saved


Muscle "Pulls"

The Break-Over Point

The Application of Pain

Obsession -- and Other Perfumes

Moods, Part II

Us Weaklings

Moans and Groans

More Budgeting



Gimme a Break


Bored Horses

Willpower-and Glycogen

N = 1


Wallet Protection, Part II

Ignore at Your Peril





On Taking a Little Off

Repetitive Motion


Old Cats

Running to Run

Unified Field Theory


Big Veins

Laws to Live By


Perceived Effort

On Becoming Green

Examining the Data

Fashion Statement

Putting It Back

Take That, Pain

For Fun




The Official Word

Goofing Off

Working at Play, Playing at Work


The Annals of Spaghetti, Part II

Objective vs. Subjective Eating


Your Choice

Choosing Your Pace

From Our Editors

Whether you're a beginning jogger or an Olympic runner, you'll find humour and inspiration in The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running. John Jerome looks at everything about running, from stretching and dancing to bugs, sweat and the food police. Stripping the sport to the bare necessities, he's off on a marathon of joy, humour and revelations. Jerome is the author of 10 books and has published articles in Esquire and The New York Times Magazine.

Editorial Reviews

Outside magazine This physiological philosopher's latest book offers readers a bundle of fad-deflating riffs and provocative essays....Jerome is a fount of sports witticisms and disarming prescriptions.