on December 24, 2003
If you read this review then you've probably thought that hey, you too could run a marathon. Let me congratulate you, this is the best idea you've ever had!
I ran my first marathon in May 2002 and it has literally made me a different person. I know now that whenever I set my mind to something, I can do it, and marathon training has provided me with the self-discipline and self-confidence that I didn't have before. Want to lose 20 pounds or grow big biceps? No problem, just do it! This is the lesson I've learned from marathoning, nothing else really comes close to this experience.
Now when I've hopefully reinforced your idea, you need a training manual. I had several books at my disposal when I was training, all with slightly different marathon training programs, here's the list (in the order of increasing difficulty of the program)
"The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" by David Whitsett
"4 Months to a 4 Hour Marathon" by Dave Kuehls
"Galloway's Book on Running" by Jeff Galloway
"Competitive Runner's Handbook" by Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover
I believe the first two in this list to be good for first-time marathoners. "The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" has the easiest program mileage-wise, if you have never run before then this is probably most suitable for you. However, I ended up using the "4 Months" book as the primary source myself for the following reasons.
1) Information was easier to find in "4 Months". It was very convenient to carry around with me and I could QUICKLY find all relevant information while the other books had too much "fluff" in them.
2) "The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" emphasizes on every step how their primary goal is not competitiveness but safety and the author discourages you from setting a time goal. If you don't feel competitive at all and just want to finish a marathon, it's perfectly fine and "Non-Runner's" is a great book for you. However, I have always been a competitive person in my life, so "4 Months" suited me better.
3) The weekly long runs in "Non-Runner's" go up to 18 miles. Now this lets you finish the marathon but I feel that a longer run would be better for two reasons.
First, the harder you train, the easier the marathon itself is. My personal training program was relatively hard and it required great effort to complete it. However, running the marathon itself was really surprisingly easy and I could handily beat the four hour mark. There's nothing wrong with an easier training program but I promise you that the more you've trained, the more you will enjoy the race.
Second, many scientists believe that human body is capable of doing whatever it has done before plus about 10%. "4 Months" follows this idea and the longest run there is 24 miles. At the same time "Non-Runner's" has 18 miles as the longest run and then focuses on "beating the wall" i.e. a point of exhaustion that you're supposed to hit at around 20 miles (notice how this is approximately 10% more than 18). My longest run was 24 miles and there was no wall when I raced! Your own experience may vary but longer runs do help you greatly.
These are the reasons why I'm giving "Non-Runner's" just 4 stars. Now don't get me wrong, it's a great book and it does help you run a marathon (which is the greatest thing you'll ever do!) but I feel that for some people other books would be more suitable.
Anyway, whichever book you get, good luck with your first marathon!!
on September 10, 2002
When I first purchased this book, I was not a runner. I had dabbled in running a year earlier, and had finished two 5K (3.1 mile) races and one 10K race. I let myself quit running regularly because of circumstance, and proceeded to eek out a mile or two every other month or so.
I saw this title on Amazon and was intrigued. I wanted to change my lifestyle; to go from an unhealthy, binge-eating, channel-surfing existence to healthy, active, and energetic life. Thanks to this book, I have - and you can, too!
The book is based on the "Marathon 101" class taught at The University of Northern Iowa. It gives accounts of the training and the big day from journals kept by the students, who cover a broad range of age and ability. Feeling that I "shared" the experience of training with these students helped me along considerably. Many of them wrote of the same pitfalls and triumphs I was encountering.
Both mental and physical preparation are stressed in the book, with each chapter broken down in a Mental/Physical/Student Testimonial fashion. I had never considered myself athletic, so I believed the training program would be pretty tough. It's not. Just as they say in the book, if you do everything they tell you to do, you will FINISH!
The day of my marathon, the temperature broke 90 degrees and the air was thick with humidity. Though I struggled with the mental aspect of finishing, I ran across the finish line in 6:31:04 (yes, 6 hours!). I know the only reason I could run and walk for over six hours was because this book provides such wonderful mental preparation. The goal is to finish. Nothing more. Now I am looking forward to reaching my new goal of running another marathon.
Content presentation and editing are the only negatives of this book. I was sometimes frustrated when trying to review information because the physical portions of EVERY chapter are called "Physical Preparation" in the Table of Contents. More descriptive sub-titles would be helpful. Some of the journal entries seemed to be in the wrong chapter as well, since the students would talk about mileage I hadn't run yet, or distances that were not in the program as it is currently presented.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever had a flicker of a dream to run a marathon. You do not have to be born an athlete in order to achieve athletic success. Experienced runners may or may not want to read the sections on physical preparation, but may enjoy the mental preparation techniques.
on February 16, 2003
I did get a lot of value reading this book, but it's primary goal is to guide you through the *schedule* of a 16 week program designed for non runners. As my review title says, I don't believe this book alone is sufficient for beginners like myself. I happened to buy "The Runner's Handbook" by Bob Glover along with this one and found in it a wealth of information that greatly complements this work. So the title of this book is fitting, and it does a great job in the area of scheduling and building inspiration, but do your body a favor and get a more complete handbook along with this one to fill in the gaps--specially if you're a non-runner and attempting a marathon.
Some minor complaints:
- no index
- no chapter number headings on pages (author constantly says, "now turn to chapter X before continuing--you have to thumb a lot of pages before you find it)
- no nutritional information
on April 16, 2002
Everyone writing a review here is right. This book is great. Every time I read about people who do something athletic, I always find out that many years ago they used to be a track star, or a football player, etc. Take this from someone who has done NOTHING of the sort: You can do it too! The only thing I changed a little bit was the sequence of long runs. I preferred Hal Higdon's recommendations for long weekend runs followed by a slightly shorter run every third week or so, which made it seem like the "shorter" weekend run was a reward for all your work during the previous two weeks, perhaps also allowing for extra recovery.
A potential improvement: a subject index at the end of the book. It is difficult to jump to a specific subject because the main index is not specific enough. A terrific buy, however!
on July 20, 2014
Provides just the right amount of information. The writing style is engaging, and the content of the book is motivating. I had bought it out of curiosity, thinking I might be able to take some tools away to improve my current running (which is at a beginner's level). I walked away inspired to try the training program and am looking forward to testing myself and succeeding. This book dared me to try and I suspect I'll be grateful for it one day.
If you're sincerely not interested in running a marathon, this book is still a good read. Lots of personal success stories which are inspirational, and some good tools to apply to your exercise of choice (or to decide to choose an exercise to begin with).
on November 20, 2001
I found this book to be very helpful, particuarly its advice on nutrition, running do's and don'ts, and use of visualization. The authors are not, by any means, over ambitious in their running program. I did not wind up following it because it did not seem like enough running to me; but now that I've run the marathon, it probably would have been enough for someone whose goal is to finish. On the whole, I recommend the book for someone, like me, who knows little about running and suddenly gets it in their head they want to run a marathon. By the way, I think I want to run another marathon.
on April 24, 2003
Prior to buying this book in October 2002, I had once run 6 miles, but usually stuck to 3 mile distances. On March 22, 2003, I ran my first marathon. I trained alone using only this book for guidance, and it addressed a ton of my questions. This book works.
The content in the book is great; a new edition could be improved by better subheads in the table of contents and the addition of an index.