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Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide Paperback – August 11, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Though the running boom appears to have peaked and even tapered off somewhat, the marathon is still the ultimate running experience for many runners. Higdon's book, although well written, offers very little in the way of new information on training for or running the marathon. Previously published works such as Joe Henderson's Complete Marathoner (Anderson World, 1978), Andy Friedberg's How To Run Your First Marathon (S. & S., 1987), and Ricard Benyo's Making the Marathon Your Event (Random, 1992) offer very similar advice. However, Higdon's anecdotal style provides entertaining reading and may inspire aspiring marathoners. The author provides details of many of his personal marathon experiences as well as those of other top American marathoners such as Bill Rodgers, Don Kardang, and Dick Buerkle. This book will appeal to general readers seriously considering training for their first marathon. For large sports collections.
- Susan L. Patton, Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Will get any runner across the finish line of a marathon. I highly recommend it,“ said Olympic-marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter.

“There’s plenty of sound training advice here for runners of all levels,“ said Ken Sparks, PhD, who achieved a marathon personal record of 2:28 at age 46.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; 3rd edition (September 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594861994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594861994
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book changed my running life...probably forever. Yes, Hal's advice could be considered "anecdotal," but anyone who runs long-distance will tell you that all credible running advice is anecdotal; it comes from personal experience or observation. There are no "textbook" right-or-wrong answers in running, and if anyone tries to tell you the "right" way or the "proven way" to do something, they probably don't run much! After I made the decision to run a marathon, a friend recommended that I check out Hal's website. I downloaded one of his free training plans, but ultimately decided that I wanted more in-depth information on how to train (I had only run 3 5k races, ever). So, I got the book. When I officially started training for my first marathon last spring, I could barely run 3 miles without walking or resting. Roughly 32 weeks (and a few social media contacts with Hal regarding my questions) later, I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles). I didn't hit the wall; I didn't feel the need to walk or stop to rest; I had no aches or pains during the race; I had fun; and most importantly: I actually finished the race! I used his Novice Supreme plan, which is very do-able for an inexperienced runner; some runs were as short as 1.5 miles. Also, that specific plan doesn't really require speed work or hill repeats, you just go out and...run. Some days are labeled with a general pace guideline, like "marathon pace" or "easy." In addition to the NS plan, I followed Hal's advice on food, fluids, race day prep, and recovery. By day 4 of my post-marathon recovery, I felt great!

One of things that I love about the book is that Hal's writing style is very conversational. His advice is simple, practical, and to-the-point - no flowery language included!
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Format: Paperback
This book has 221 pages. I think the useful information could be condensed down to 20 pages or so. This book makes heavy use of the anecdote pattern. Chapters begin with little stories about elite athletes and experienced runners from which general principles of running are drawn. The problem is that the stories are incomplete and entirely anecdotal. Elite athletes and experienced runners don't need this book and the principles that apply to them don't apply to middle-aged people who truly are beginners. The book doesn't address the subjects of weight and size (very important in long distance running), and it only addresses age at a very superficial level. The good things in this book are: the focus on staying injury free; the incorporation of easy running and rest days into your training schedule; some sample training schedules; some diet advice; and some seemingly useful information about race logistics toward the end. On the negative side, a lot of space is devoted to fluffy stories; evidence to support advice is almost entirely anecdotal; there is practically no advice on runner injuries and how that affects your schedule; and no talk about weight/age; Put simply, this book contains a lot of anecdotal, unscientific, irrelevant, happy, feel-good fluff. The training schedules may work for you, but if they don't you will not have gained enough knowledge from this book to understand how to adapt them to fit your needs.

EDIT: As the author of the book notes in the comments to my review, my review is of the 1999 edition. I haven't seen any of the subsequent editions and can't speak to them.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I think I have owned every edition of this book at one time or another. The first edition got me through my first marathon. I followed it to the letter and enjoyed a successful race. Loaned it out and didn't get it back, so I bought the second edition to have as a reference. Loaned that version out and had to go buy the third edition...you get the picture.

The fourth edition is a return to simplicity. Marathon is still a comprehensive guide to how to train for and run a marathon, suitable for newbies and experienced runners alike, but now it is more succinct. The basic information is there, the schedules, my favorite part, are there, but the writing is tighter and there are fewer anecdotes. A couple of new chapters have been added to take into account changes in the running world, such as the increased popularity of the half marathon. Yes, there are schedules for the half, and advice on how to approach this type of race.

Reading Higdon's guide again, I realized I had forgotten how thorough he is. I have a library of marathon/running books now, some much longer and more technical, but this basic reference covers pretty much all the bases. It isn't too complicated and so doesn't scare off the new runner, but isn't too simplistic for the experienced runner. I am still running marathons, and still using Higdon's schedules to get ready, with some modification based on my experience now. When some friend comes to me asking how to train for the marathon, I'll offer him this book and find myself having to buy a replacement copy again.
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Format: Paperback
After renewing this book from the library multiple times I just had to own it. My husband and I are training for our first marathon and this book is our "bible." There's a new piece of valuable information on every page, and each time I reread a section I find something I can use again. Inspiring, informative, with training schedules, advice, and anecdotes throughout. I've looked at other marathon training texts but this one is the best--written for the average reader, it doesn't take the elitest attitude toward running that some of the others do.
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