Hello there faithful followers…and I say that because if you still read after my hiatus then you truly are faithful! I recall the last post I had was about picking the best marathon training plan and my choices were two different books; Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons by Hal Higdon, and Runner’s World Run Less, Run Faster by Bill Pierce.
The first book was a traditional approach to marathon training, a gradual build-up of miles until about 8 weeks out, where you do a final long run. From there you taper down to maybe 10 miles a week the week of the marathon. If you don’t mind a few digressions into the author’s experiences and ego driven stories, the book is probably what most beginning marathoner’s should read. It has accounts from runners who have used the method, what to expect before, during, and after a race, and just general ideas of what the training and race will look like. The programs introduced in the book are also very manageable…especially since the marathon programs are broken down for novice’s and advanced runners.
The second book uses the FIRST method to make a runner faster at their desired race by running only three times a week (most programs, like the traditional one mentioned above, use a 4 run week). This book emphasizes 3 key runs to build strength and speed during workouts. It highlights a long run, a tempo run, and an interval or track run. The catch to these is that most of the runs are done at marathon pace or faster. The idea is that you’re running shorter distances for 2 of the 3 runs, but you’re doing them faster to build your lactic threshold and leg turnover. The idea behind it is amazing, three hard workouts instead of four runs. However, this type of program seems to be better equipped for runner’s who have done their desired race before. For example, the marathon training plan would have me running 22-24 miles on the long run by week 4…I have never attempted that long of a distance. Had I run a marathon before, this might make more sense for me.
The final verdict…the same coworker who recommended the Run Less, Run Faster book actually gave me a great idea; I’m using the FIRST method for the lead-up to the start of the actual marathon training (which doesn’t actually start until 16 weeks out from the race). From there, I’ll use the program provided in the first book to continue building mileage and peak at a 20 mile long run. I think this will help build the base needed to safely and efficiently build mileage towards my goal race.
I would also recommend either of these books to anyone looking to run distance. If you’re a beginner, I would suggest the Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide book. It gives a ton of great advice for novice runners and has good ideas to help get past certain road blocks. It also has half-marathon training plans (it’s in the title!) that I will certainly return to when I go back to halfs. If you’re more seasoned and what to get faster or add a little challenge to your training, Run Less, Run Faster is perfect for that. You’ll push your pace and your limits, but you’ll definitely be able to feel the rewards.