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June 6, 2011

Relentless Forward Progress: Book Review and Giveaway

This book review is unlike others I’ve done recently, mainly because I know the author personally, and I happen to be a big fan.

I’ve had opportunities to spend time with Bryon Powell both on and off the trail, and can attest that his dedication to the sport of ultrarunning is absolutely remarkable. He’s probably the first-ever beat reporter that our sport has ever seen; Bryon’s been known to drive back and forth across the country and even travel overseas in order to provide front-line coverage of major events for his iRunFar website. And while he has very impressive talent of his own – sub-20 hours and age group winner at Western States, top 10 at Leadville – he has spent the better part of two years publicizing the exploits of countless other top ultrarunners all over the world.

He also has a mission to strengthen and support the ultrarunning community through various avenues. His website is an outstanding interactive resource with contributions from elites and midpack runners alike. He offers coaching services for runners of all abilities, and is a contributor to several major publications such as Outside, Running Times, and Trail Runner magazines.

It’s that same spirit of helping others that is the premise of Relentless Forward Progress, an ultrarunning instruction manual that was released this spring. The book contains excerpts from previous articles, extensive original content, and contributions from many elite runners – and it’s definitely the most comprehensive overview of trail running and ultrarunning that I’ve ever seen.

Bryon essentially starts from square one – what is an ultramarathon, basics of trail running, and so on – and touches on pretty much every conceivable angle that ultrarunners consider in training and racing. Although it’s generally targeted towards novices, it’s a great resource for experienced ultrarunners as well, if for no other reason than to compare notes with people who have achieved a great deal of success in the sport. I’ve been an ultrarunner for almost 10 years now, and I quickly found a few tips that I started implementing into my own training and racing this spring.

One of the things I really appreciate about the book is that while it’s chock full of specific instructions like day to day training schedules, hydration strategies, and trail etiquette, Bryon also recognizes that there’s no magic formula that works for everybody. For example, I was especially interested to read Bryon’s take on barefoot and minimalist running, because it’s a topic he and I have discussed at length in the past. In Relentless Forward Progress he essentially lays out the rationale for minimalism without specifically endorsing or dismissing it; he then includes an appendix by noted barefoot experts Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee from RunBare.com. Similarly, with topics such as speed work, cross training, weekly mileage, and selecting an ideal race, he presents all the pertinent information and lets you decide for yourself.

Considering how much the popularity of ultrarunning has exploded in recent years, a book like this was long overdue, and Bryon was probably the perfect person to write it. And luckily for one of my readers, Bryon thought that I was the perfect person to give one away. I have a signed copy of Relentless Forward Progress that I’ll give away to one reader; leave a comment below this post, and I’ll announce a winner this weekend. If you’d rather not wait, the book is available for $11 from Amazon.com, and for $10 in Kindle format.

Very big thanks to my friend Bryon Powell for providing this book for review, and good luck to everyone who enters!

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gradlearnlife 6/6/11, 10:09 PM  

I'd love a copy of this! My (husband in 12 days) and I just ran our first 10K, and we really want to try a trail run next. I have a feeling we're going to really get into it!

paddyrunner 6/6/11, 11:19 PM  

Bryon's site is a fantastic resource and I'm sure the book is great too. I would love a copy of it !

Graham, Switzerland.

Paul 6/7/11, 3:30 AM  

I stumbled across the iRunFar website a while ago, and have been doing some reading there as i contemplate icreasing the amount and length of trail running that i do. Im certain that Bryons book would be a fantastic read, I certainly wouldnt object to getting a copy.

runputt 6/7/11, 4:25 AM  

I've been doing more trails as of late so this would be a great help. And if I don't win I will probably buy it anyways.

cognitive dissident 6/7/11, 4:58 AM  

This book has been on my to-be-read list for a while, but I haven't picked up a copy yet. I'd love to have this as I prepare for my next 50K!

*~*~* Tracy 6/7/11, 5:40 AM  

I would love to win this!

Michael Shane Helton 6/7/11, 5:43 AM  

Oh yeah! I can't wait to read it. Bryon at irunfar.com is one of mt 2 "goto" running sites.

Kurt 6/7/11, 5:50 AM  

I would love a copy of this book with my first Ultra being October 2nd (hopefully!)

Richard 6/7/11, 6:20 AM  

Sounds like a good read and might give me a few tricks in my preparation for an ultra in Iceland next year.

Anthony Bunt 6/7/11, 6:20 AM  

I would like to have 8 hours a day to run and play outside. But since that isn't possible, I'd take a copy of this instead please.
Nampa, ID

Meg T 6/7/11, 6:26 AM  

Sounds like a great book!

Lesser is More 6/7/11, 6:26 AM  

Very cool - I've seen a number of reviews from various bloggers and would love to take a read through.

Brandon 6/7/11, 7:03 AM  

I was thinking about buying this book eventually already, so this would be perfect!

TK 6/7/11, 7:11 AM  

I'd love a copy of the book. Byron does a great job at iRunFar.

John Nguyen 6/7/11, 8:21 AM  

I plan on getting this book anyway, but wouldn't mind getting a free copy!

mike,  6/7/11, 8:49 AM  

no plans to run an ultra but i do a lot of trail running.

Sparkplug 6/7/11, 9:03 AM  

Sounds like a great book! I would love a copy. Definitely on my "to read" list!

ScottyRev,  6/7/11, 9:07 AM  

Hook a brother up!

tdomina 6/7/11, 9:07 AM  

I'd love a copy. Thanks for the review.

Cherylrunner 6/7/11, 9:15 AM  

Hey Donald, I'd love a copy. Would also like to hear more about some of the things you learned from his book since you are a seasoned ultrarunner!

Al D. 6/7/11, 9:36 AM  

Donald, I would absolutely love a copy of Bryon's book. I am a regular reader of his posts and probably shouldn't tell you that I will definately buy the book if I don't have a lucky draw. Thanks for doing this
Al DiMicco
Hoover, Alabama

Hall 6/7/11, 10:19 AM  

I'd love to add this to my running book library.

rbrown10 6/7/11, 11:32 AM  

Thanks, Donald. Great review!

Mannie 6/7/11, 11:33 AM  

Been following iRunFar for quite some time now, would LOVE a copy, so much so that I'm just going to buy it if I don't win.

Rakicy 6/7/11, 12:01 PM  

Sounds like a great read.

JimDog 6/7/11, 1:13 PM  

I follow iRunFar (Bryon) on twitter! Would love a copy! Count me in! Thanks!

Running Preacher,  6/7/11, 2:13 PM  

Just finished "Born to Run." getting my head set for a 50 miler in the Mississippi heat. ( MS50 is a great race.) Would love to read this next.

Asko 6/7/11, 3:55 PM  

Sounds like a good read

Jay,  6/7/11, 5:15 PM  

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for sharing!

krystyna47 6/7/11, 5:19 PM  

Sounds like a GREAT read, thanks so much for the giveaway and the review!

Mr. Boyk 6/7/11, 7:57 PM  

Brilliant giveaway! I'm ready to take on a 50 miler and I'm feeling like I need some guidance!

lostinacrowd 6/8/11, 4:58 AM  

Looks awesome!

Mandie 6/8/11, 9:25 AM  

This book looks wonderful! I am a long time marathoner that is looking to break into the ultra scene. I did my first 25K trail race in CO in May and actually won my age group! I think I see trail running in my future!

On another note, I work at a DC runner store and I continually recommend your website to runners thinking about going barefoot/minimalist running. Great website and posts!

Jobu007 6/8/11, 10:02 AM  

Nice review, count me in!

Marc,  6/8/11, 11:05 AM  

Having met Bryon last summer at TRT, I can attest he is one knowledgeable and friendly guy.

ZeFreds 6/8/11, 11:33 AM  

Sounds like a good tool to have!
Thanks for bringing it up, Don.

Heather 6/8/11, 12:41 PM  

I would absolutely love one! I just ran my first 50K a couple of weeks ago, and I enjoyed it so much.

Chris 6/8/11, 4:24 PM  

Would love to win this book!


Pinkcorker (Renee) 6/8/11, 5:24 PM  

I'd love to win a copy of Bryon's book!

islander 6/8/11, 6:28 PM  

The book sounds great, I would love a copy!

Joe 6/8/11, 9:19 PM  

Always keep up to date with both this and irunfar (among others!)... Would love a copy of this fantastic looking book!

~ Joe

Tomislav 6/9/11, 1:34 AM  

This was on my wish list.
I would be very helpful for newbie trail runner.

I would live a copy!

DoubleA 6/9/11, 1:21 PM  

I'd love to read more about ultras and trail running! Please sign me up for the contest.

David 6/9/11, 10:33 PM  

I've been wondering if a book like this existed... thanks!

ajones 6/10/11, 8:05 AM  

Great review. I would love to get my hands on this.

marathonmaiden 6/10/11, 8:09 AM  

excellent review! i'd love to read it.

Knuckles 6/10/11, 9:36 AM  

I would love to read this, Donald. Sign me up, please.

Chad 6/10/11, 1:50 PM  

Would be great to win this.

dug deep,  6/10/11, 3:02 PM  

I would love the book
-Dug Deep

wattage 6/10/11, 5:09 PM  


I would love to learn more about trail running.

Take care

Kevin 6/10/11, 8:31 PM  

I'd love to have a copy of this!

Lasiv 6/11/11, 6:05 AM  

Just did my first trail race last year. Looking for bigger challenges, and this book would be very helpful.

Alex 7/20/11, 6:46 AM  

don't pick me, i already have it. It is very well written and Bryon provides excellent info for new trail runners as well as insight from seasoned pro's. if you don't win the give away pick it up its def a great read and for me personally has now become a resource.

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