Mar 01, 11
Thorough description of his "adaptive" approach to training distance runners. A lot of it is similar to what others prescribe -- maybe the most distinctive features are (a) keep training volume high year-round, even though you lower intensity at times, so that you're not in a position of having to increase volume and intensity at the same time, which elevates injury risk; (b) steady diet of short all-out hill sprints, which he favors relative to weight training as a way to build running-specific muscular strength; (c) don't follow a set plan come hell or high water, but adapt based on your own response to previous workouts.
The last is the main point of emphasis throughout the book. I imagine that the principles described here and test workouts and such would help you do so to some extent, but I think a difficulty for the self-coached runner is ambiguity as to what workout had what effect. That is, it's easy to tell when you were too tired to complete a key workout at intended paces, but it's not always as obvious what specifically caused that effect and needs to be changed in your program.
Since publication of the book, his star pupil Dathan Ritzenheim left him to be coached by Al Salazar with the Oregon Project, after several disappointing (by his standards) marathons. Just a single case, but then most of the evidence that the methods work is a handful of stars he's coached.
Not sure he's worked with any good masters. Unless I'm forgetting someone, he didn't name any, and his adaptive advice for masters was just to run less often, basically substituting cross-training or rest for almost all easy days. Ends up looking like the Furman 3-day/week marathon training program, which is good and efficient if you're pressed for time but is not what [to my knowledge] any top masters actually do.
In spite of the message not to follow cookie-cutter formulae, he does provide sample charts to get you started. There is one very funny [to me] typo on p. 270 in week 11 (sunday) of the level 3 marathon plan. You're supposed to do a "specific-endurance long run" of "1 hour steady, 10 X 9 sec. @ marathon pace/90 sec. easy, 30 min steady"
Pretty sure "9 sec" should be "9 min" -- if by week 11 you find it challenging to run nine seconds at a time at your marathon pace, and need 10x the recovery interval, it's fair to say that's not actually your marathon pace after all.
At first, I thought this was careless proofreading, but it's probably an intentionally-placed subtle message to reinforce the theme that you shouldn't follow plans to the letter.