Tag Archives: books

Book Review: Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide

I received the Hal Higdon book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide as a gift at a recent holiday gift exchange with my Chicago Princesses. 

Go to full-size image

I was incredibly excited to receive this as a gift from Heather as I’m training for the Illinois Marathon on April 30.  I need all the help I can get! 

The first few chapters were about why the marathon distance is so alluring, how to begin running, how to choose your first marathon (tip: pick a larger marathon for better support & organization).

“I can’t even imagine what it’s like to run for 5 or 6 hours” – Bill Rodgers

I also learned about the origins of the CARA training program, a local Chicago running club with a large marathon training program that many people participate in each summer. You’ll see them running along the Chicago lakefront on Saturday mornings. 

Other training tips:

  • Increase your mileage gradually & include step-back weeks (weeks w/ decreased mileage)
  • Have a long training period for the marathon (suggested 18 weeks)
  • Your long run shouldn’t be more than 50% of your weekly mileage

Truths of Marathon Achievement:

  1. Progressively longer runs will get you to the finish line
  2. Scheduling Rest Days is Key to Staying Healthy.  Your body needs 48 hrs to recover from a hard workout. Rest, Cross-train on your off-days.
  3. Taking one step back allows you to take two steps forward. Stepback weeks allow you to survive the stresses of your training load.
  4. Speed training can be a double-edged sword. It can be one too many focuses for a newer runner. Do it in the off season… you’ll have many options.
  5. Learning to Pace & Learning to Race are the two most critical skills. Pacing is important – Practice! Practice racing and the details of a race; make your mistakes at smaller races.
  6. Consistency is what counts in your long run
  7. Nutrition is an oft-overlooked factor in Marathon Success
  8. Practice everything connected with the marathon – not just the running
  9. Tapering is an art and a science.
  10. You’ll only go as far as your motivation will carry you. Internal motivation = Intrinsic.

What will success in the marathon mean for me?

  • A well-execute training plan
  • Taking care of myself (sleep, eat, manage stress, avoid injuries)
  • Run happy on race day
  • Pace myself –> stay on pace!

Higdon’s book also has some other key chapters that I wanted to notate – Lauren, look at these again! 

Striving to Improve

  • Be conservative in planning your marathon goal times, especially if it’s your first.
  • Be consistent in training
  • Be steady in your training and fitness –
    • Runners begin to “detrain” (i.e. lose fitness) after 48-76 hours and it takes 2 days of retraining for each lost/skipped day.
  • Find your mileage level
    • Everyone has a set point that’s best for them.
    • Track your running to find this
  • Slow it down
    • Run slowly, especially if it’s a rest day, or the day before a hard workout
    • Slow running metabolizes fat instead of glycogen
  • Take a day off! Rest days are important.

Build Up Mileage
What does mileage accomplish?

  • Better utilize glycogen. Glycogen levels become depleted in 60-90 minutes.
  • Improved use of muscle fibers.
  • Psychological benefits: run a high mileage and fatigue your legs, then you rest & taper and are mentally ready for the marathon.
  • Most people are good at ~50-75 miles per week
  • Pay attention to how you feel. Don’t sacrifice Quality for Quantity!



Mike from 26.2 is my Cooldown is giving away a Tanita body fat calculator & scale.  Check out his giveaway!