Marathon: The Ultimate Trainig Guide
Shortly after I decided to run my first marathon, I began reading the book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon. This book had come highly recommended by several friends. Even though Hal Hidgon has his six different online marathon training plans available at his website, I wanted to read his detailed explanation of each step in preparation of my first marathon.
The book is well written. With his years of experience as a published author, Hal Higdon does not disappoint in his explanations and examples. Because this book is written for beginning marathoners, he works hard to keep the information simple yet with enough detail that the reader can understand what he is explaining. This book is not just for new runners or marathoners. It goes into detail about how to improve your time over your previous marathons.
He did not spend enough time talking about proper shoes for different types of runners. It could be that he does not see the importance of specialty shoes. As an older man, Higdon did most of his competitive running before shoe companies started branching out into specific running shoes for various types of feet and running styles. I read the 1999 version of the book. There has been a new 3rd edition written since then. He may cover more information about shoes in the new edition.
The information about nutrition was written as if he expected the readers to already know about proper eating habits as a runner. Since Higdon advises runners to not start training for a marathon unless they have been running for at least a year, it may be a good assumption that the readers already know about nutrition; however, I find it unlikely that most runners in the United States are eating properly. His conclusion on nutrition is that a runner would have to change his diet to get the volume of calories he needed to consume during marathon training. There is a great assumption that the reader is already eating healthily and does not need someone to tell him what is good or bad. However, I think it is something that could be expanded upon for the sake of the readers. At 250+ pages, it would not hurt to add a few more pages dedicated to proper nutrition leading up to and during the race.
Though shoes and nutrition were lacking, there were plenty of other good tips and recommendations for preparation, the race and post-race recovery. He even gives you a detailed list of things you should do immediately after the race has ended. These recommendations are broken down into specific activities for a specific number of hours after the race. The post-race recovery chapter gives information for recovery over the first several days after the race.
Though his marathon training plans are available at his website, the book goes into much more detail as to what he means on each day of the program. He even tells you how you will probably be feeling at a certain day in the marathon training plan. There are encouraging words on particularly tough days and he even lets you know how hard you should be working on each training day. If a tough long run is coming, he tells the reader to make his weekday runs a little less intense. He is an experienced coach who knows what his runners need.
Each of his six training programs are 18 weeks long. They are detailed in the book in such a way that you feel like you really can run a marathon.
Hal Higdon's Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide is a great book for the first-time marathoner or for the experienced runner who wants to do better in his next race. The expanded 3rd edition may take care of the two issues I had with the 2nd edition concerning shoes and nutrition. Even if those chapters are not expanded in the way I would like to see, I would still recommend this book, particularly for new runners.