Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon
I may never have the time to train for a marathon again. (I may never want to, either, but that's a different story.) So, I've got plans to put my free time and flexible schedule to good use by training for and completing my first marathon before the end of law school. Although I'm not wedded to it, I have gone so far as to pick an ideal race: flat, in California, well organized but not huge, cool weather, and, of course, before the wedding (may as well take advantage of those training miles).
In anticipation of that race (and the hope that I won't do something stupid to injure myself or find myself unable to finish the race) I added Hal's self-proclaimed ultimate training guide for the 26.2 mile race to the growing list of running books I've read this year.
Who should read this book: if you haven't read anything about running and plan to run a marathon, this is the book for you. Even if you are reasonably well educated on the subject of running, this book will serve to reassure you of what you already know and psych you up for your first marathon.
Who should think twice before reading this book: If you are looking for a large collection of various training schedules, you may be disappointed. There are a few training schedules included in the book, but I didn't find them any more helpful than the ones I've found on-line or in other running books. Instead of providing me with knowledge to plan my training, I found this book helpful because it shifted my perception of how I should train and the goal time I should shoot for with the constant repetition of themes to keep my type-A personality in check (slow and steady finishes the race, be disciplined with your training, be even more disciplined with resting and stretching, focus, and be realistic).
After reading this book, I've strengthened my suspicions: there is probably no substitute for running a marathon yourself and the majority of the stuff you learn while preparing and finishing the race can't be learned from a book. I waited until I had finished this book before outlining my training schedule for the next 6 months. I'm fairly certain that I would have settled on roughly the same schedule had I not read this book. So, the "ultimate training guide" didn't add much to my previous understanding of how I should structure my training. However, it did discuss the benefits and drawbacks of every training approach I'd ever heard of (and some I hadn't) and made me more confident in my own ability to design a solid training schedule for myself.
While reading this book, I confirmed that for the next 6 months I'll be doing hard/easy alterations, step-back weeks, a few shorter races, and no speed training during the last 12 weeks of marathon training. I'll try to keep the posting from being monotonous on the running side of things, but no promises.