The Marathon Method: The 16-Week Training Program that Prepares You to Finish a Full or Half Marathon at Your Best Time Paperback – Apr 1 2007
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
To make a long story short, using only this book as a training guide, 12 weeks after buying shoes and taking up running, I ran the Long Beach Marathon last Sunday in 3:59:12, beating my friend by 6 minutes. My time would have been even better if I'd not ignored one of Tom's marathon "commandments" about staying hydrated (I didn't like energy drink provided at the race). Bottom line is, Tom Holland's training marathon training methods, in my opinion, have you running just enough miles to properly prepare you for the race while still keeping running pleasurable!! I enjoyed and looked forward to all my training runs and definitely got benefits from the strength training in between runs. Additionally, the other race preparation advice (mental strategies, diet, supplements, equipment, etc.) were extremely helpful. I highly reccomend this book.
My endurance has been increasing and this fall went looking for another marathon plan in order to break 2:45. I felt like I would need to run around 70-80 miles during my peak in order to reach my goal. After much research I decided to stick with this book adding mileage to the days without increasing the number of days running. I will be sticking to the 4 day running plan with core workouts in between.
I have been doing more research on the 4 day a week running. I noticed that even the running plans on runners world have started to move to running less days during the week. Also, there are many articles coming out on this subject.
About the book itself. I found it to be a good read. He gives advice for the newbie marathon runner and information that the veteran runner could brush up on. He gives three different training plans for the novice, intermediate, and advance runner. Also including the training for a half marathon. He gets very specific on the training days, telling you how long of a rest in between tempo runs, which I enjoy. I enjoy the specificity of the training plans and the information he gives you in the chapter to tweak the plan to your goals.
I consistently refer to this book also have referred this book to friends. This book has worked for me and I will continue to use it during my marathon training. It is great for the newbie and advance runners alike. I challenge advance runners who are running 6-7 days a week to just try this for a 16 week period and see how your next marathon goes.
I religiously followed the training program and managed to stay injury and illness-free during my 16 week training period. I never missed a run session, and always ran the prescribed distances. I've got to say, the training leading up to my first marathon was not as gruelling as I expected it to be.
My results (to give you an idea of my abilities in relation to the book review):
I had no 'official' goal time in mind, but thought I'd run around 3:53-4hrs based on my training speeds. I took the first half of the race very conservatively, and (likely as a result), never 'hit the wall'. I performed a negative split, and felt very strong during the last 10km. I finished in 4:05, not quite the time I had hoped, but I finished strong, with a smile on my face and it was a result I am happy with. The experience was great and I am looking forward to smashing that time in my next marathon!
Having The Marathon Method and Tom's training program to work from gave me the confidence on race day that I would be able to achieve my goals. The chapters were easy to read and gave specific product references. I referred back to the book several times after I initially read it.
Another thing that really impressed me was the support Tom gave me when I contacted him through his website. I had a couple of questions regarding which of his programs to use, and he got back to me very promptly with useful answers.