83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Of the 10 reviews of this book, which readers give an average of 5 stars, I'm noticing that only *two* people have actually used this method to run a marathon! (My review makes three.) It's fine to skim through the book, look at the schedule and think, Wow! That looks do-able! Five stars! But to actually run 26.2 miles using this method? Here are my thoughts:
First, the positive. I did it! I ran my fifth marathon last week using this method, but it was my first in 14 years and my first since kids. There was no way I could do the traditional 6 day a week training, so I was willing to give this a try. I had never done any kind of core or strength training at all, and I'm now completely sold that it is a key piece of marathon training. In the old days my back would often be the sorest part of my body after a long run, but no more, and the arm strength exercises gave me a big boost on hills. Running only 4 days a week also kept running a lot of fun, and I was always excited to get out there and go - definitely not the case when following a 6 day a week schedule.
The negatives of this book: first, the training charts in the back for all but the advanced plan show 1 core weekout a week, on
Friday, but the text description of the training says there are 3 (Tues, Thurs and Fri). I had been following the chart only and didn't notice this until a few weeks before my race, so I probably didn't do enough core exercises, which gave me something to worry about during the taper.
Second, the periodization is very different in a 4 day a week program. Normally you increase the long run milage one week and decrease the next (like 12, 9, 14, 10, 16, 11), so the build up is gradual. In this program, you increase the long run 3-4 weeks in a row (like 12, 16, 18, 20, 10). I found this really tough to do when the milage got longer, and as a result my long runs were often incredibly slow. As was my marathon time. Because the mid week runs were so light (I followed the intermediate plan), and my long runs so slow, I just didn't have the base of running to step up my pace by 1-2 minutes per mile during the race, although this book claims it will happen. More specifically, my long runs were between 9:30 and 10:00 per mile. I ran the marathon with a 3:50 pace group, which is 8:47, and at mile 24 simply fell apart, which I have never done in a marathon before - I've always run negative splits.
On the other hand, I finished in 3:52 (although I don't really consider that an "intermediate" time), and the training schedule never really took over my life as it had in the past. I never felt overtrained, and there were only a few times where the really long Sunday runs cut into my family time.
So, I think if you are very busy and yet want to *finish* a marathon the intermediate schedule is a good program. If you want to run a faster time, I'm not sure it can be done on anything less than the advanced program. Personally I think if you follow the beginning program without making the mid week runs a little faster or challenging, you may finish but I would bet you will have a pretty miserable race.
I wish the author would give more specifics about how the plans connect to various time goals! He says the right plan will "reveal itself" to the reader, but I think that might not happen until after the race!