The Secret of Running – Van Megen & Van Dijk

In this article I will review the book The Secret of Running, a book from Ron van Megen and Hans van Dijk. Both authors are engineers by profession and enthusiastic sportsmen.

These authors also wrote The Secret of Cycling and two interesting book in Dutch “Het Geheim van Wielrennen” and “Hardlopen met Power!” that discuss training methodology and scientific models which estimate performance for cycling and running.

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Ron van Megen and Hans van Dijk learned about the opportunities of cycling power meters when working on the book The Secret of Cycling, and when the Stryd (running power meter) was launched they found a way to revolutionize the running training.

The possibilities of a cycling power meter led us to the idea that this would also be great for running when writing the book The Secret of Cycling. A revolution in running. That led to our book The Secret of Running Running with Power has now found its way into the precise Stryd.

Please read the full article “Learned from cyclists” on the secret of running blog. In theory:

Based on your personal critical power and power duration curve, you will automatically get the race power to set the fastest possible time for you. Then you are empty right on the finish line with a satisfied feeling.

There is some great overlap with the secret of cycling concepts, and so there is an overlap in the book structure. Although clearly structured you can use the Chinese menu method to go through the book and read the chapters that are relevant for you.

Book Structure – The Secret of Running

The Secret of Running is broken down in five big parts, that build theory layer by layer. The table below shows the Secret of Running book structure in a simple summary. As you can notice the structure and DNA is very similar to the structure from The Secret of Cyling. The book review is recently republished on

Part I starts with explaining some basics of running with sports physiology, training principles, sports nutrition and training plans.

Part II has a more scientific character where the physics of running are explained by understanding the concepts of energy and power, that combined with power requirements result in an overall running model.

Part III is aimed and building knowledge around the power of the human engine. What is the functional threshold power and what is VO2 max and how is the relationship between these concepts. Is there a limit to the power output a human engine can produce? Al valid questions that are answered in part III.

#SectionSection descriptionPage
2Part IThe basics of running16
3Part IIThe physics of running46
4Part IIIThe power of the human engine96
5Part IVHow fast can you run?126
6Part VRunning with Power Meters366
7Part VIThe myths of running420

The biggest part of the Secret of Running is Part IV that tries to answer the question “How fast can you run?” In the 42 chapters (!!!) of this book section a lot of influencing factors are discussed. Compared to the cycling variant of the book, this is where you will find most of the differences. Part V covers the running power meter concepts for running

The last part of the book (part VI) covers some of the myths of running, mainly focused on supplements, beet juice but also the impact of doping and vitamin D deficiency are discussed.

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Secret of Running Calculator

Hans van Dijk and Ron van Megen have done some cool predictions and analysis by using this calculator, that is different than the Secret of Cycling calculator, but is being build upon a similar theoretical foundation:

The calculators are based on the theory of ‘The Secret of Running’.
Enter the distance and time of a recent run.
This is the basis for the calculations.

At the tabs you see the equivalent times for other distances and other conditions (such as wind, hills, etc.).

The Secret of Running calculator can be found on a couple of places with minor differences and/or additions.

  1. Running calculator on ProRun (in Dutch language)
  2. Calculator on Hans van Dijk and Ron van Megen’s homepage – Het geheim van hardlopen

The most interesting part of these calculators is that you can use them to do predictions or further increase your understanding of your own engine, and capabilities when running.

Key in making these predictions or race plans is to understand the power data. On the Stryd Blog there is cool archive on the secret of running that I would recommend, but please start with the article: “How to analyze running power data

It is fun to be able to understand what’s needed to deliver a certain performance and what contextual factors influence your performance. It is furthermore cool to see the overlap and differences of training with power with different sports activities.

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Concluding thoughts and wrap-up

During the COVID-19 pandemic I broadened my sports activities from cycling to adding running, hiking, mountain biking to the spectrum. It is fun that put different physical workloads on your body to stay healthy, and this diversity is what I like.

By using initially using the Polar Vantage M and investigating the options to use a Stryd power meter (in combination with this smart watch and TrainingPeaks) I reached out to Ron van Megen to gain some understanding in using a Stryd at hiking scenarios that are aimed at aerobic base building.

The Garmin Fenix 7 smartwatch now delivers wrist based running power, without an additional power sensor like Stryd. Stryd is shipping its next gen sensor where I still need to investigate the new capabilities and added benefits for my own scenarios.

The book “The Secret of Running” is available for a price-point of roughly € 30,– where the Dutch version Het geheim van Wielrennen is slightly cheaper with a price-point of € 24,95. So if you are a native Dutch speaker you might want to save a few bucks.

I would highly recommend the book The Secret of Cycling or The Secret of Running, because it gives you loads and loads of background and contextual information around the five main questions above. The expert knowledge and professional background of the authors, make this book truly valuable for serious cyclists, runners and coaches.

  • Hans van Dijk is a lifelong runner and scientist, former professor at Delft University of Technology;
  • Ron van Megen is a lifelong runner, engineer and managing director;
  • Guido Vroemen is a cyclist and triathlete and a sports physician. He is the team doctor and coach of the Dutch Pro-Continental Cycling Team Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij and the owner of a Sports Medical and Performance Centre;

If Hunter Allen has written in the introduction that the authors are global experts, than you know you can’t go wrong with this book and its additional resources, like the calculator.

P.S.  Don’t forget to check out my other book reviews on my blog.

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