async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Book Review: Good to Go by Christie Ashwanden

Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Review: Good to Go by Christie Ashwanden

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader's copy of Good to Go from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This review contains affiliate links.


"The explosion of recovery products and services can seem ridiculous because in its most basic form--a return to readiness following an intense workout or competition--everyone intuitively knows what recovery is and how to achieve it." ~Christie Aschwanden, Good to Go

Runners and other athletes are always looking for that magic bullet to help us bounce back faster from a hard workout or a long run. We agonize over fueling and diet. We take supplements. We foam roll. We roast in a sauna or freeze in a cryo tank. We wear compression. It's not just amateur athletes--the pros are all about recovery and will go to any extreme to recover from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), even soaking in a vat of red wine, so-called "vinotherapy".

In her newly released book, Good to Go, author Christie Aschwanden explores the science of recovery. Not only does she share funny anecdotes and the science behind some of the recovery methods, but Aschwanden herself also tries some of the methods purported to help with recovery. Taking one for the team, so to speak.


Aschwanden's quest begins at Denver Sports Recovery, a center that claims to help athletes "recover like a pro". Employees at DSR are called "recovery assistants". The center offers a variety of recovery options. I had never heard of a recovery center, but apparently, they are popping up all over the country! The question she asks is, while all the modalities offered at a recovery center might feel good, are any of them really effective? Do we need a recovery center to help us recover better?

Good to Go explores a variety of popular recovery techniques and products as well as some really ridiculous things athletes do to recover. You might think a book on the science of recovery would be boring, but Aschwanden is an excellent writer and has a lighthearted, fun style that makes reading this book something you'll look forward to.  She calls on the experts to help deconstruct some of the tests that she herself undergoes. Her bloodwork, which was mostly normal, led to the sage advice to stay hydrated. Did Aschwanden actually need a blood test to tell her that?

One interesting thing I learned from this book is that stretching, foam rolling, or icing after a hard workout isn't actually beneficial. I found this hard to believe. I always feel better after foam rolling and I know I get benefits from my massages. Isn't ice supposed to help with inflammation? What about RICE*? According to one of the experts quoted in the book, David Martin, he calls it the "placebo effect". Say it ain't so, but the placebo effect isn't a bad thing. 
"This is real mojo, and instead of calling it the placebo effect, he prefers the terms "anticipatory response" or "belief effects". He uses these alternative names because people tend to dismiss the word 'placebo' as a synonym for ineffective, when in fact, these effects are real, and in some cases can be as powerful as many drugs. The difference is that you're gathering up your body's own resources to create the benefit." ~Christine Aschwanden, Good to Go
After reading this very entertaining book, I got the feeling that we are making recovery all too complicated. Aschwanden concludes that there is only one thing proven to help with recovery and that is sleep. WHAT? She also says that DOMS takes longer to resolve in older athletes. So sleep it is.  And if I can't sleep, there's always Tom Brady's TB12 recovery sleepwear. Made by Under Armour, the fabric purported to emit far infrared radiation. This is supposed to help reduce inflammation. The goal of the sleepwear is to "unlock better sleep". 

After watching him play in his 6th Super Bowl, I'm thinking I want whatever Brady is having.

*Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

What's your go-to recovery tool? Placebo? Or the real deal? Have you ever gone to a 'recovery center'? 


Next month, I have another new release! Running Home: A Memoir by Katie Arnold, is due for release on March 12. Arnold, a contributing editor at Outside Magazine as well as the Leadville 100 women's champion, writes a tribute to her beloved father as she runs to process her grief. Pre-release buzz is strong and I am looking forward to reading this one.  


I'm linking this post with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness


27 comments :

  1. I runfess I never got around to doing any stretching or foam rolling after last weekend's 20 miler. And I was especially creaky for longer afterward. Is that in my head?? I say who cares what people do to recover. To each his own. Glad it was an entertaining read!

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    1. I was pretty surprised that the data doesn't support foam rolling and stretching. I find it helpful when I'm feeling really tight!

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  2. Never been a fan of icing & these days I do my foam rolling before. I am a fan of compression . . . when I remember it.

    Hey, placebos work if you believe!

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    1. Exactly! Placebos aren't a bad thing and if they help you, then who's to say they aren't effective?

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  3. I am not so much into icing but I do love a post run hot bath. Interesting whether it is all a placebo effect or not? I do feel better after foam rolling and stretching when I actually do it. thanks for the review!

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    1. I love a good post run hot bath and you know I love me some stretching! I think it does help, but that's just me.

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  4. Well if foam rolling causes a placebo effect I'm in! I really felt like it helped me survive my marathon with minimal soreness. This sounds like a fun and interesting book. Thanks for sharing your review.

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    1. I feel like foam rolling and deep tissue massage helps me a ton!

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  5. Thanks for the honest review. I think we make recovery too complicated too. I like to stretch while my muscles are warmed up. Let me rephrase that - I don't LIKE to stretch at all, but I do it when my muscles are warmed up from running.

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    1. I'm not the best about stretching but I do like yoga--that seems to make me feel better.

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  6. I have never heard of a recovery center, but I am always in Denver for work, I should check it out...haha. I am so bad a recovery tactics. Good to hear that all the stuff runners do to try and recover isn't all necessary.

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    1. I think we do tend to overdo recovery--but if it gives us a mental edge, then it's important!

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  7. My go-to recovery tool: stretching and rest! Now that my knee talks to me all.the.time., I also use ice pretty regularly. They may not have any "scientific" benefits, but I am good with a placebo!

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  8. So interesting! When my husband, Les, and his brother cycled across the country all they had time for was food and sleep. 2800 miles in 28 days didn't leave time for much else - they lost a little weight but never bonked. I would say they even felt stronger near the end as they trained their bodies to be even more efficient.

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    1. The only thing shown to be effective, at least according to this book, is sleep! Makes perfect sense to me!

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  9. I used to do ice baths when I was training for my first half marathon and I do think they helped my recovery. Book schmook - do whatever works for you, try it all, and pfft - sleep. Not being a good sleeper, if that were true about it being the only recovery, I'd be a goner by now. Good on you for getting through this book.

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  10. I am better now days at stretching/rolling (before and after my runs) than in the past, but it's when I'm in training for a major race that I am the most devoted to the cause. I think it's really a personal thing because we all have different lifestyles and very different training objectives. As for sleep... if I am able to function well on 5-6 hours/night, I wonder how much better I could rock my world if I slept more LOL Sounds like an interesting read!

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  11. i am so bad with recovery! I do get very sore feet though so I at least use my flowlife foot massager and I do try to stretch. the book sounds really interesting! I think training, fuelling and recovery are definitely not a one size fits all thing. everyone is different! what works for you may not work for me.

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    1. I learned that when I struggled with PF. Everyone I know had a solution that worked for them--and none of them worked for me! LOL

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    2. usually I find it's all about trial and error!

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  12. Thanks for the review! I’m always looking for another book, so it’s great to have someone pre-reading them. 😉

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    1. I love to read, so I'm happy to provide this service for you! 😜

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  13. Interesting stuff. I am finding that a recovery run is a good thing after a long run the day before. And my physio has me rolling so someone thinks it's still a good idea ...

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    1. I used to do recovery runs after a long run but now I do yoga or I just rest.

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