This book is a unique but sort of uneasy hybrid. If you're an experienced runner and enjoy humor in the vein of Mark Remy (yes, I am one of those running nerds), then, once you get past the celeb name-dropping and I-know-this-guy-is-a-music-writer-but-must he?? interviews with luminaries such as Justin Beiber, you'll find some decent chuckles. And some quotes and interviews with
running legends such as Deena Kastor and Bill Rodgers (don't know who they are? Please look them up). If you're just getting into running and have a goal of completing a marathon in a year, you could take a look at the plans in this book, then look at some other plans--Hal Higdon's, for example--and figure out what suits you and your schedule best. The author is redundant at times (especially on the topic of shoes) and it's best to take his personal advice and anecdotes with a grain of salt. He's a teensy
bit the drama king. To wit:
1. He sets a goal of 37 minutes for a his first "tune-up" race in his training cycle for a Boston-qualifying marathon. This would be a personal best. Why did he choose this goal? Doesn't he hobnob with coaches and elites all the time? Doesn't he know that pace charts show you only need to run a 39-40 minute 10K to run a 3:10 marathon---if your endurance is equal to your speed? Anyhoo,
he takes off like a bullet and after much suffering attains a time of just under 39 minutes. But he justifies it by saying he hadn't been training, anyway. Well, duh.
2. Chapter 11 starts with the sentence, "People die running races. It happens all the time." Uh, not really. Then he includes a couple grisly accounts that seem somewhat tasteless.The chapter goes on interview some experts who point out that, statistically,
his opening premise isn't true, and the gist of it is that you really need to run smart so you don't end up injured.
3. Chapter 16: "Already the New York Marathon's discouraged music players, and this is a horrible thing." Uh, no, a horrible thing is a runner being distracted by music and hit by a vehicle or assaulted. The book opened espousing the use of music as a form of psychological "doping" but never mentioned these obvious downsides. (Ok, I'm really not the target audience for this book).
4 The author opens chapter 20 by warning the reader of how awful the marathon can be, referencing his "Boston marathon qualifying run" detailed earlier in the book. Well, the author ran that race, even he admitted, stupidly, and if he had run with the same qualifying margin for 2014 he wouldn't have gotten in. And he would have barely squeaked in for 2015. But I digress.
First-timers: if you run your marathon smart, it won't be a suffer-fest. The first 20 miles is the long run, the last 10K the race.
You will not run a 3:10 marathon if you follow the plan in the book (unless you can already run a 1:25 half) but you will finish and have a good time.
Experienced runners: You will see some of yourselves in this author, and at other points you'll just think he's full of it. Enjoy the portions where he talks about training with the Kenyans (I'm not kidding--how did this guy luck out with this gig? Is it just because he's Canadian??).
Best advice? Just get out there and run.