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Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person's Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Half-Marathon or Mar Athon

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,125 ratings  ·  152 reviews
Once considered a feat for superhuman athletes, the marathon is now within every mortal's grasp. Former couch potato John Bingham has joined forces with coach Jenny Hadfield to create a winning plan that works for every mortal--even you.

In Marathoning for Mortals, you'll find the courage to train, the willpower to persevere, and the tenacity to finish one mile after anothe
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 2nd 2003 by Rodale Books
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Jo * Smut-Dickted *
Anything I do I do whole hog. From my snout to my wiggly tail - I'm all in or I'm not interested.

I loved the spirit of this book which will strike a chord with anyone who has ever doubted themselves in this running arena. I would actually speculate that to the person that is already super athletic and fit this book might be a bit boring and non relatable. That is not my case. I was always the nerd who got picked last for any team sports. I always wanted to be an athlete - but I didn't think it w
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
"You already have everything you need to be a long distance athlete. It's mind set not miles that separates those who DO from those who DREAM."

Inspiration. Advice. Wisdom from two seasoned runners. I loved everything about this book. More so, I loved their easy to read and understand training plans. The main premise of this book is to run for fun. Realize that races are uniquely YOU. You race YOUR last PR not the first place finisher time.

I find myself six-ish weeks away from my third half marat
Jane Lebak
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book ONLY because I like John Bingham. (Now I like his wife's voice too.) I didn't intend to do any actual marathoning.

I may, though, now that I've looked over the program and read the book. Wish me luck!


UPDATED three months later: Yesterday after following the program in the book, I completed a half marathon. :-) It totally worked. I trusted what they said, and even when I didn't think I could do it, I followed their advice, and it worked.

I re-read most of the book in the w
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I purchased this book as a tip/training guide for running a half marathon in the spring. I thought that Running for Mortals was more informational and the contents of the book were the same things I've read on However, they authors do provide many anecdotes of the emotional aspect of the race and prepping yourself mentally that I think will be very helpful. I plan on using their Run a Half Marathon training plan from the book in the next 6 months. I will hopefully be able t ...more
Carianne Carleo-Evangelist
I really enjoyed this book, despite still having no interest in this distance. I feel like it's geared toward runners like me and it's something I could follow, vs. something geared toward much faster runners. Also like their Q&As with mortals and case studies of same with answers from both John and Jenny where they differed. Solid read, even if not the most polished writing.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is probably a good starter book for people preparing for a first half marathon or marathon. I enjoyed Bingham's honesty as he shares his personal training mistakes with humor throughout the book and the fact that he is definitely not pretentious. I guess because the book was cowritten, some sections seemed redundant, like they couldn't decide whose paragraph to include so they added them both. I'm still fairly new to distance running and was hoping for them to go into more depth with c ...more
Merri Su
Sep 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: first-time marathon/half-marathon-ers
Solid advice, though a bit distracting in the switching back and forth between two authors. As an editor, I think this could have been handled better.

I like that there are lots of plans and plenty of solid advice. I'm not a first-timer, so I didn't really learn much *new*, but I did enjoy and benefit from the review. What I did learn more about was what to do after the marathon/half-marathon to recover, both mentally and physically (I especially liked that their training plans in the back of the
Bill Sleeman
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it

This was an okay book - I've read a few books on the topic now as I prepare to "check off" an item on my personal bucket list and most of the advice tends to be repeated. One aspect of this book that I thought was helpful and is stressed more than in some of the others is the walk/run approach. While I have no plans to walk I know many folks do and it was good to read how some folks have worked that into their successful preparation for a marathon. Good background reading but nothing that an exp
Apr 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 50-books-in-2009
I enjoyed the book. I think it will be a very helpful resource for my training. I didn't agree with everything said in the book, especially in the gear/gadgets section. In the later section of the book, the tone seemed to change. While I think the authors' love of running came through the entire time. The latter half of the book, the tone changed slightly and I got the impression they were talking more to people who weren't starting out from ground zero but to those who were already running.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it

"Are you willing to take the time to train, prepare,and change your lifestyle?"

This simple yet (as I have now learned) profound question weaves itself throughout the book. The authors take you on a journey from the beginning question, why do you even choose to run, to invaluable advice for your training and preparation. They do this while sharing personal anecdotes and testimonials that connect you to this elite club you've always admired, the long distance runners.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'd love to say this book helped me train for my first Half Marathon. I'm two weeks away from my first Half Marathon and I didn't read this book early enough in my training!! However, I found this book to be helpful and VERY encouraging. Heck, I might even consider run/walking a full Marathon someday because the last chapter was totally motivating. Wish me luck!
Dec 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fitness-health
Great for beginners and intermediate runners who have never participated in an actual race. It had helpful information about pre-race preparation, race day preparation and during the race nutrition. After reading this and completing a half marathon I would probably want something more in depth though to take my training to the next level.
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: running
This was a very inspiring book that made me feel that, even as someone that runs an 11-minute mile, I could train for and run a marthaon if I set my mind to it! Includes training programs for walking, run/walk, and running both a half and a full marathon. Programs seem reasonable and, dare I say it, manageable.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Good book for folks looking for motivation and general information. A good read for beginners or first timers, but lacks a bit of specifics on some topics, such as what exercises would be good to take up if one does some sort of strength training. Mostly serves as a source for inspiration. If you are a seasoned runner, skip this book.
Mar 28, 2012 added it
I've obviously been reading too many marathoning books, or too many books by the Penguin. It was basically the same info I already knew, but it was still nice to have another voice say, "You know, Holly, a marathon would not be completely impossible....someday."
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good resource ... a lot of common sense stuff that I wouldn't have thought about. People are going to get sick of me over the next 20 weeks ... don't care. First marathon coming up on November 5th :)
Quite a good book. Informative, detailed, actionable, and often quite funny.

Published in the early aughts, the book contains two bits of outdated info that I caught: smartwatches weren’t around yet when they wrote, and, contrary to their suggestion to stay away from heat (hot showers, heating pads, jacuzzis) after endurance events, I’m reading interesting things these days about heat actually being good for recovery.

But, really, this is a lovely, informative, generous book meant for new enduranc
Tom Smeets
Goed voor de beginner !
Helen Rodio
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very inspirational. It definitely gave me a lot to think about and consider as I plan and prepare for my first full marathon. It had a lot of sound advice
Dec 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
Recommended by my doctor, but a little thin on actual information.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of good advice for stubborn people who refuse to take rest days and keep getting injured. I may just have to get a copy for my nightstand :)
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s only a 3 Star because I save 4 and 5 stars for amazing books. I don’t plan on running a half or a full marathon, but a 5K and 10K can seem like a marathon when you’ve never run. Good tips.
Mar 13, 2017 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
I am reading Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield right now. I’ve run nine marathons over the last several years, and am training for my tenth at the end of April. I read a fair number of running books because I like to stay inspired and keep finding ways to improve. As running books go, this one is pretty accessible, and is a great way to remind myself of the basics as I gear up for my next 26.2. —Elizabeth (
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
While I love the idea behind it -- getting more people running with purpose and with respect for their bodies & health --, it feels more motivational than substantial if you have any prior competitive running experience under your belt. While the advice generally seems solid & I'd have no problem recommending to a brand-new runner, the explanations behind the advice can be a little heavy on the analogy and lighter on the actual substance. (It's kind of corny-cute sometimes, which is fine ...more
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The witty quotes and honest language, really puts a marathon virgin like myself at ease. It makes attempting the epic task of a full marathon potentially possible for anyone willing to put in the work. Early on, a questionnaire is presented to the reader, requiring serious thought as to the individual’s personal evaluation of their physical and mental fitness as well as their goals and motivators for attempting endurance racing. The eight training plans provide clear and reasonable traini
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was not very helpful at all in terms of gaining new knowledge about running techniques and training. It's all stuff you have already know if you participate in the sport.

It is written by two different authors who switch writing back and forth and this became very confusing in parts and just clumsy and awkward overall.

Also the metaphors they use to liken their training sections was corny and over the top. They tried to compare it to the sections of a meal with "appetizers" for warmups,
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Adult onset athlete, for that term alone the book is priceless. Reading a running book by a guy who knows what it feels like to spend 45 years wishing you could do something and then finally being able to do it and then wanting to do nothing more that do it some more to the point that you hurt yourself and well that's okay too because hey it was self-inflicted sports injury, wow. The same book then explaining why learning to have patience and slow down helps you get farther, faster and then expl ...more
Mary Jackson
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be extremely helpful. It's advice in plain English, many times running books are written in "track". I didn't run in high school or college so I don't speak "track" but with this book I didn't need to. The book has solid advice and lots of motivating stories. I will be referring to it often as I try my first marathon.
Jan 06, 2009 added it
i do not like this book marathoning for mortals. well, no thats a little strong i like it ok but am not handling the transition very well from the person who pushes maybe too hard into a prepared uninjured person im supposed to turn into before this race. this can probably be taken with a grain of salt as i have only just started--but i find this prescribed program outrageously boring. so boring that i dont find the running remotely therapeutic complementary to my spirit or anything even slightl ...more
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to run a marathon
Shelves: christel
One of the best marathon training guides I've read! John Bingham, aka the Penguin, brings the reality home that we are all Kenyan's in our soul, but most of us are never going to be that fast and that's totally ok. He helps you realize the mere fact that you are getting off your butt, out the door, training for 26.2 miles, and then finally crossing the finish line is more then 99% of the population will EVER do. He helps you get over your fear of, "what if I'm last?" or "what if my waddle makes ...more
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aka 'The Penguin'. John Bingham became well known for his 'The Penguin Chronicles' in Runner's World where he told in detail about his development from couch potato to runner and how that changed his life.
“You already have everything you need to be a longdistance athlete. You see, once you decide to run or walk farther than the 10-K (6.2 miles), your quest centers much more on tenacity than talent.” 0 likes
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