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Tread Lightly: The Most Important Running Book Ever Written

Posted by on May 29, 2012 | 12 Comments

Shelly and I have been on the road for the last 10 days, so my posting has been infrequent. The trip is almost done, but this post NEEDED to go up today.

I just finished reading Pete Larson and Bill Katovsky’s new book “Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running.” Over the next week or so, I’ll dive into many of the topics Pete and Bill discuss throughout the book. Here’s my incredibly quick synopsis:

The book discusses many of the topics I’ve been exploring lately, but provide a ton of supporting evidence. Pete and Bill discuss issues like the history of footwear, the function of specific footwear characteristics, barefoot running, foot strike, cadence, diet, and a host of other topics related to running.

‘Born to Run’ introduces a few hypotheses about our evolutionary running heritage and the role of shoes in injuries. My book, along with Ken Bob, Sandler, Dryer’s ‘Chi Running’, Romanov’s ‘Pose’ technique, and a few others taught people how to improve running form. Pete and Bill’s book brings all of this together to answer the fundamental question- “What can we do to run healthier?”

Pete and Bill rely on a thorough assessment of the available empirical research and approach each of the topics with the skepticism of good scientists. While it does get fairly technical at some points, they do an excellent job of writing for a wide audience. If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll recognize nearly all of the topics they cover… but they go a step further and provide extensive support for their conclusions.

The topics they discuss are the exact same topics I’ve been discussing with running store employees and podiatrists… and we’re closing in on some degree of agreement on some fundamental elements of running form. This book very well could be the book that triggers the tipping point I talk about frequently. It’s the single most sensible treatise on running form I’ve ever read.

This book should be required reading for anyone involved in the running industry, including:

  • Novice runners
  • Experienced runners
  • Coaches
  • Researchers
  • Medical professionals
  • Shoe designers
  • Shoe marketers
  • Shoe distributors
  • Retail shoe store owners, managers, and employees
  • Parents

That’s right. If you’re on this list, order this book today. It is THAT important to furthering our understanding of what it means to reduce running injuries. The book was so intriguing, I woke up at 3 am the last two mornings to complete it despite recovering from Sunday’s 50 miler and subsequent 18 hour car ride back to Michigan.

Look for a more detailed discussion in the coming days as my schedule winds down. 😉


For those that have been lucky enough to get a look at the book, what are your initial thoughts?


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  1. Dave7
    June 4, 2012

    86 pages into Tread Lightly. So far I’ve encountered:

    No promises of a lifetime of pain free running.

    No dire warnings of what parts of me will break if I don’t run right.

    No messiahs and no devils.

    In stead I find many observations that ring true to my 39 years as a runner and few that make me say WTF?! So far a terriffic book.

    • Dave7
      June 4, 2012

      sorry should be very few that I disagree with

  2. Steve
    May 30, 2012

    Ordered it yesterday and very much looking forward to reading it 🙂

  3. Ehd
    May 30, 2012

    I need a Kindle version. 🙂

  4. bill katovsky
    May 30, 2012

    Thanks you Jason and others who are in the process of reading Tread Lightly, or have read it. It’s an understatement to say how floored I was to read the review here. Yet, reading this site long before I began work on this book with Pete was an important part of my own educational process regarding running. Like so many others, Born to Run got me further psyched to know more about how malleable and even forgiving the body is when it comes to running– just make sure you have the right shoes, or not if you are a barefoot runner.

    To those who want to read some excerpts on Tread Lightly, please go to

    There’s an except on barefoot running in the early 60s, as well as one on bill bowerman and the early days of nike. it’s wrong to consider bowerman a villain in all this. when he introduced the small wedge, he was trying to figure out a way to lessen the likelihood of foot and leg injuries among all these new joggers. but that small wedge in the sole took on a life of its own…with almost all footwear companies who thought bigger is the nike cortez from the late 60s or early 70s with one of those monster-truck heel shoes of say, asics, and you will be amazed at the huge disparity.

  5. Shane
    May 29, 2012

    Book is on order, should be here any day now. I am even more excited to read it now and pass it on to the employees in my footwear department!

  6. Dave Goulette
    May 29, 2012

    By the way, Jason, I just clicked through to amazon for this book and I saw that Scott Jurek also has a new book out that looks interesting. It is called “Eat & Run.” Have your read his book? I might check that one out too. I would like to hear more about his nutrition and race-day diet. We may be on the leading edge of some really quality running books. I hope so.

  7. Dave Goulette
    May 29, 2012

    Wow. Strong recommendation. It is on my summer reading list.

  8. Shelly
    May 29, 2012

    What makes this book so important is that it is not just conjecture and opinion. The facts are evidence based and not rooted in hype or fanfare. Although the authors offer their opinion on some issues, these are hypotheses based on the available evidence, while acknowledging the need for further investigation of a variety of topics.

    I agree with Jason that anyone who is involved in running at any level should read this book. I have already started to read it for the second time!

  9. Peter Larson
    May 29, 2012

    Thanks so much Jason, this means a lot coming from you!

    I think over the past year or so we’ve both converged on a very similar line of thinking about things, and I’m starting to see the middle ground crystallize a bit more, which is great. Much like you, I’ve come to realize that shoe designers are our friends, and that they want to make good products, they just need support and sales to make things work given the realities of the corporate world that they inhabit. Thankfully we’ve come a long way in terms of options in the past few years!

    I also think the form discussion is starting to moderate in a very positive way. Excited to see where the next few years take us!

  10. Bare Lee
    May 29, 2012

    Got the book, and agree: it’s very complete and supported well by science. I hadn’t visited Pete’s site that much in the past because of all the shoe reviews, but his non-shoe review postings are very interesting. I’ve become a big fan.