Overall The Marathon Method seems to be a pretty decent guide for long-distance running. It’s got specifics, both practical and theoretical. It explains not just the ‘how’ but also in most cases, the ‘why’. For example, why do a lot of runners use those gels packets no one seems to like? Because the body’s carb stores are likely to run out around mile 20 of a marathon’s 26.something, and those gel packets are a potable way to not run into the near total body shut down that can happen if you genuinely do run yourself down to that point (known as ‘hitting the Wall’ or ‘bonking’). What is left unsaid is how long before you anticipate running low or out to take one; granted, there’s going to be some variation depending on the individual, but this omission also highlights one of the problems I had with this guide, namely that there are what feel to me like obvious questions or conclusions not directly addressed.
Another example, stretching is emphasized, as well it should be, but possible alternatives like yoga are not considered in the training plans. Same goes for strength; suppose I want an alternative to just weights. This guide doesn’t tell me whether things like power yoga or barre etc. might be reasonable substitutes, or how I might fit them into a long-distance training plan. The stretch and strength sections are decent, with images for form, and charts for reps and overall plans, that seem to be designed to accompany the distance training plans. My issue here is that relying on the same set of exercises might get boring after a few weeks, and the discussion of how to gradually raise the difficulty without hurting yourself is not given much attention.
In fairness, these problems are evident in many other similar guides, and this is also a tad on the older side (2007). Probably the element that I’m likely to use most is the emphasis on the mental side. There are some actual practical tips like ‘4 self-talk categories’, and when to deploy them with examples. I also like the flexibility about method; there’s a discussion of the Galloway emphasis on short walk breaks and a refutation of the prejudice against walking in a ‘real runner’ race that’s pretty fair, although part of me wondered if that bit is included because Galloway himself wrote the forward.
The last thing that really got my attention is another some good, some not, namely the “10 Commandments of Marathoning”. The list itself is a good one, however the attempt at King Jamesian grammar goes awry badly enough that it irritates me: “Thou shalt not try anything on race day that thee have not done in practice” is good standard advice, however ‘thee have not’ should really be ‘thou hast not’ and this is not the only example of this kind of thing, just the first and probably worst.