I've been running for a few years and recently began participating in distance races, so Hal Higdon’s Marathon caught my attention. With decades of experience, Higdon and his training plans are well-respected. He provides an overview of endurance running and speaks generally about training strategies, covering all the expected topics, such as building mileage, speed work, nutrition, injury prevention, etc. The information is presented as a guide rather than a mandate, acknowledging that runners should tweak training practices to their unique needs and goals. The book draws heavily from anecdotes of everyday runners who have contributed to Higdon’s online discussion boards.
I liked how approachable and possible Higdon makes distance running sound. The snippets from other runners provide some nice breadth, but sometimes I thought they buried the valuable tips from Higdon himself. I especially liked his advice about preparing for the whole race experience, from choosing ideal hotel locations to making a runner’s suitcase checklist. Now I also better understand what it means when runners hit “the wall” and how to prepare for it.
In its fourth edition, Marathon offers good advice for novice and veteran runners alike. I've already used a modified version of one of his half marathon training plans with great success, and I intend to continue referencing these for future races. This is a nice option for learning about running basics. As a follow-up, if you’re looking for more research-based information with specific training techniques and lots of photographs, you might try Be A Better Runner by Sally Edwards.