Andrew McDonagh reviews what he calls “the bible for long distance training”
“This is the one you have to get” I was told by all and sundry as I tried to improve my times – [amazon_link id=”0736074600″ target=”_blank” ]Advanced Marathoning[/amazon_link] by Pfitzinger& Douglas (P&D). This was the third or fourth book about marathon training that I bought but it’s the only one that I refer back to constantly and it’s the only one whose training plans I use. To my mind P&D really have written the bible for long distance training in this book and it’s used by more sub 3:15 marathon runners for training than any other I have found.
So why is it so good?
Well, not least because you don’t actually need to read it to get value from it! P&D themselves say early in the book that if you simply decide to flick to the back and follow a schedule then you can be pretty sure that your marathon times will improve. I can vouch for this – I’ve gone from a 3:25 to a 2:58 marathon by following thier plans. They have a series of plans grouped by mileage (up to 55 miles per week, up to 70 and over 70) and each of these then has 24, 18 and 12 week detailed plans. In addition there is a chapter on completing multiple marathons with appropriate plans there as well.
As you can probably guess from the weekly mileage targets this book is aimed at fairly serious runners who are comfortable and capable at pretty serious mileages. That doesn’t mean that the book itself is only for the fast guys but something like [amazon_link id=”1594861994″ target=”_blank” ]Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide[/amazon_link] by Hal Higdon may be more suited to someone working off a lower mileage base or aiming at thier first (or second) marathon. The plans themselves are very detailed, week by week day by day layouts with an excellent mix of long, Planned Marathon Pace, Lactate Threshold and VO2 max sessions. Like I said the proof is in the running and they certainly work well for those I know who’ve followed them.
So what’s in the first half of the book? Basically an expansion of the concepts and theories underpinning the plans. You get a chapter detailing training elements (what the sessions are and why they are important), one on nutrition, another on training and recovery time – all standard enough stuff. To be honest the content is good – clear, concise and well written – but it’s nothing you wouldn’t get from other generic books. If you have a solid grounding in the building blocks of a good training plan and have a schedule that works for you then there may be little to gain from buying this book. If though you want to make a step up in performance, learn more about what goes into a good training plan or (crucially) are looking for a tough plan that will reap improved times then I can’t recommend this book highly enough.