Review: The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training


Later this spring I’ll be walking a half-marathon to celebrate entering the “Whee! Ain’t give a damn!” decade of my life, a/k/a the 40s. As a result, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past six months reading everything I can get my hands on in the way of training materials. This is the last of the lot, as walking is obviously more important than reading at this point.


Title: The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training

Authors: Amby Burfoot, et al.

Genre: Non-fiction / How-to

Publisher: Rodale

Length: 304 pages

Library: Carnegie Library of McKeesport

Challenge: 2013 Literary Exploration Challenge (Level: Insane, Category: Education)

Summary: A panel of experts offers a range of practical advice for intermediate to experienced distance runners.


Books you learn from are very different from books you read for pleasure. For one thing, you can skip around in them and cherry-pick the useful parts. However, since just about every part of this book is useful, you may as well sit down and read it, if you are the target audience. The target audience is, however, very focused, so take this book for a test-drive at a library or bookstore before making the full committment.

The kind of information you would expect–advice on how to dress, what to eat, what gear you need, and so on–is included, and since it comes from the team of folks at Runners World magazine, you can be sure it’s credible stuff. The chapter on dealing with injuries is the longest, most comprehensively detailed one I’ve ever seen, and the variety of meal plans and training plans is top-notch. There are a great many inspirational stories included in the sidebars, many about people who overcame great physical odds to become distance runners, but if that is not your cup of tea, they are easily skipped, and do not distract much from the main text. The only real disconnect there is that it’s the kind of motivational material that usually appeals to beginners, while the rest of the material–especially the training plans–stress that you should already have a solid running base before you start marathon training.

Recommended for: Experienced runners who are ready to take a crack at the half or full marathons. People especially worried about injuries. New runners seeking a long-term goal to strive for.

Whew. I am officially reading far faster than I can review. Hopefully I can catch up over the weekend.

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