Originally published in 1998, this book has been around awhile and stood the test of time. Who's it for? NORMAL people who have the desire to run and complete a marathon BUT also have other commitments that take up their time such as a family, job, etc. Don't have tons of time to train? This is your book. Need to get together a plan of attack? Keep reading.
The promise of the book is to that you'll be able to run 26.2 miles training just 4 days a week with no runs over 18 miles. It is based on a marathon class offered over the years at the University of Northern Iowa that touts a high success rate for 1st time marathoners. The book accomplishes this goal in sixteen chapters, one for every week of training.
Each chapter is cleanly divided up into 3 parts. Part one deals with the mental aspects of marathon training (which in my opinion is just as important as physical preparation when it comes to marathons), part two lays out the actual training program for the week, and the third part of each chapter contains advice and suggestions from people who have done the course and the program.
The book has a final 17th chapter which gives advice such as what to do after the marathon to make sure you recover well. Finally, the book ends with three appendices- one is a list of marathons to help you pick from, another on research that has been done on the program, and the last one a list of references and resources (always good to have those at hand).
All-in-all its a very COMPLETE book covering everything you can imagine about training for a marathon such as stretches, weight training exercises, nutritional advice, how to dress, and what shoes to wear.
Some practical bits: the 16 week training program does start you out running three miles, so in reality, you can tack on about another month or so of training to the 16 weeks in order to build up to the 3-mile starting point of the program. Along the same lines, pick a marathon that will be held no less than five months from the time you expect to start getting ready. And finally, runners suffering from plantar fasciitis might also want to check out The 5-Minute Plantar Fasciitis Solution
. Good luck :)