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The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,485 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Athlete. Runner. Marathoner. Are these words you wouldn't exactly use to describe yourself? Do you consider yourself too old or too out of shape to run a marathon? But somewhere deep inside have you always admired the people who could reach down and come up with the mental and physical strength to complete such a daunting and rewarding accomplishment? It doesn't have to be ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published January 11th 1998)
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Ron Martirano I'd say yes to all of the above. The introduction walks readers to the point they need to get to in order to begin the actual training (basically: be …moreI'd say yes to all of the above. The introduction walks readers to the point they need to get to in order to begin the actual training (basically: be able to jog for 30 minutes). As for the recommendation, the book is as much about mental toughness as it is increasing weekly mileage leading up to the race, so I would recommend to runners, nonrunners, and marathon vets. I'm signed up for my first in November, am very confident that I will be ready at the end of the 16-week program (but I'm also giving myself a head start by incorporating a pretraining program to get used to the time commitment for four-day-a-week training).(less)

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UPDATE: May 18th, 2009
I said in my original review I'd come back to give an update. I wished more people had done that when I was reading the reviews of this book. husband and I ran the Ogden, UT marathon two days ago. Long story short...this book helped get us there. Follow this can do it.


This book is so much more than just a training schedule, as I originally assumed it would be. It gives you the too
Mai Anh
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this in the middle of traing for the 1st full marathon while got injured at the 9th week, I applied some tips on marathon day and it worked.
It is very basic and informative book to train your first FM in 16 weeks if you are able to complete 5Km before. It provides not only the physical preparation but also (very importly) mental one.
Just need more time to summarize it

"Training for and running a marathon is not a single event; rather, it is an experience. It is a discovery of self that wi
Fuzzy Gerdes
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I'm signed up for the Chicago Marathon and I'm training by myself using the Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer.

This is a book that comes out of a class at the University of Northern Iowa that is a joint class between a psychology professor and a phys. ed. professor -- the phys. ed. professor brings the training you need to complete a marathon and the psychology professor brings a lot of self-helpy stuff about the mental preparation you need to get through the training process and then the race itself
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
READ THIS if you've ever thought about running a marathon, or even a half. My loving hubby got this for me for Christmas and he made a great choice. There's a lot of useful information - not all of which I followed to a T - but it was very good to read and think about. I was able to pick and choose what worked for me. It had some good advice that I did take to heart though! And what can I say? It obviously works! I finished my first marathon using this training plan!

PS: I read it twice: once bef
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Even though I'm training for my 2nd marathon and consider myself a runner, I wanted to read this book to follow the 16-week training program. The chapters are broken down by weeks of training, so I'm only reading one chapter a week and focusing on that week's training tip and schedule. I would recommend this book to both "non-runners", as well as "runners" who are training for a marathon.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: skills, exercise
The book works. Not only did I finish, but I had fun in the process as promised.

Some details like how to deal with blisters and how to pin a race bib are missing, but those you can easily look up on reddit/youtube.
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome book for someone training for their first marathon. After two months of training for my first half-marathon, I've been shocked by how much of running is mental. This book has given me tons of great ideas for handling that part of running.

The authors are a psychology professor and a pysh ed professor who have taken multiple groups of students through a class termed "the marathon class." Most of these students have not been runners but all but one of them has been able to comple
Wendi Klaiber
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I actually started this book 10 years ago. I was training for a marathon with a group of friends from work; however, I quit after I reached the 8 mile long run. At the time, my children were very young, and I just couldn't find the time needed for the runs. My Dad also trained with this group of friends 10 years ago, and he & one other girl, Isabelle, actually ran the half marathon together in Seattle. Isabelle continued with the training and completed his first marathon run!

Ten years later, I g
May 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
What can I say, it all made good sense, and got me to the starting line of my first marathon. Excellent as far as offering psychological support to people who are building up to long distance runs -- I initially started training for a marathon with a team of five people, and they all dropped out... none were reading this. I was the only one who made it through the sixteen weeks of training. I'm glad I read this. It champions the idea that by taking gradual steps towards a goal, most people can d ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, it took 6 years and one aborted attempt that ended in injury and a half marathon, but I did it! I finished the book and I ran a marathon! Gotta give this book 5 stars for the result!
Christian Hamaker
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I said I'd just read it for inspiration. I said I wouldn't run a marathon after reading it.

And I'm not.

But I *have* signed up for a half-marathon, and am putting the training guidance - both mental and physical -from this book into practice!
Hilary Roberts
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health
No - I don't have any plans to run a marathon anytime soon. I have, however, been looking into running a Ragnar Relay or a 1/2 marathon sometime this spring. I checked out several different books from the library and this is by far my favorite.

The book gives a schedule to use for training, and then the book is divided into chapters - one chapter for each week of training. Each chapter is also divided into three sections: The first talks about psychological aspects of running, the second talks a
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
A very thorough training program for the first time marathoner. The most helpful parts of the book are the mental techniques outlined in each chapter. I've already started using several of them though I am only on my second week of training and they really work!

The running schedule itself is probably better for the person who is completely new to running, rather than someone who has been running for a while but is attempting her first marathon. As someone in the latter category I would recommen
Jun 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting thesis: that non-runners can run a marathon (the distance that was once defined as "running this far once killed a man"). I liked the story of the fact that this book is based on a college semester course that involves training for and then running a marathon. There were a few good points, and the fact that they used their semester one year to test half the students running only 4 days a week and found that they could still complete the Marathon was very helpful when I was training t ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I used this book to train for my first three marathons, as well as the upcoming 2012 NYC Marathon. I completed all races w/o any major injuries. The 16-week plan demands novice runners complete hundreds of miles w/o any recommended speed work. The goal of these authors was to provide an accessible training plan for the novice runner to complete a marathon. The information is presented in a very concise, non-technical language.
Ron Martirano
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
My marathon is still seven months away, but this is the book that will get me across the finish line. Practical, instructional, and inspirational, the program within is as much about mental toughness as it is physical development. More impressive is the perspective that the authors' are pushing, with the race itself and the training that leads to it serving as a very tangible argument for each individual's internal control of the surrounding world.
Anabel Olivo
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I will be running my first Marathon within 2 weeks. I have been following this training program and feel great so far. This book is wonderful because it shares lots of useful stories and tips that help with mental strength. I also love the approach of the experience of running the marathon as a metaphor of the challenging nature of life.
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Be prepared! I particularly enjoyed the focus on mental toughness. These tools are useful in all spheres of life. Such demanding training proves that we can create our own reality. The process includes several meetings with yourself during tough conditions, little time is left to spend at the couch. Sounds like fun!
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this while training for my first marathon. The mental strategies provided in this book were key to getting me to the finish line.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read ten years ago when I was a non-runner. The book alone fueled my successful first marathon. Now, I'm soon to run marathon #13 and I still feel comforted by the advice.
Thomas Bray
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic guide to prepping for a (hopefully) running a marathon. I'm not using their training plan simply because I'm not quite to their athletic level they require before starting. Still, this book - far above others I've seen - emphasizes that training is not only a physical matter. Mental training is just as, if not more important than, running in itself.

I'd love to reach out to Mr. Whitsett once I've run my marathon in October (Chicago 2020!) to let him know how much this book meant to me.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book worked for me. I liked the plan, followed it, and found myself able to run a marathon. I think this could work for anyone in reasonably healthy condition. I completed the plan overweight and finished a little less overweight. Try something else for weight loss. This book prepares you for endurance running, which requires fuel. My only complaint with this book is the overabundance of stories and trivial information. I liked the stories, but one or two short ones per chapter could have m ...more
Russ Brookes
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a first time Marathon runner who prior to starting training for London Marathon, had run a half once, I cannot recommend this book enough.

It gave me everything I needed to run a Marathon. (I write this a day after finishing London Marathon in 4 hours 5 minutes 40 seconds) the training, diet tips and most importantly the mental tips and techniques.

Would I have completed the Marathon without this book? Maybe but not as well as I did and I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed the experience anywher
Marie B.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pretty good book to help with the week by week analysis if training. I didn't follow the exact miles training plan but I did still read week by week more for the mental aspects and just for a perspective outside myself. I found it helpful. And, I did finish the marathon! Afterwards felt pretty good too, minus the legs of course. Took a few days but that got better too. And overall I think I am in the best shape of my life right now. Makes me kind of want to do another....kind of. Haven't decided ...more
Doris Raines
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Robert Brownsmith
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I used this book to train for the 2018 Brighton Marathon. It is an excellent text. I believe anyone completing the programme will finish their marathon. I would like to see a newer edition from the authors as this was published in 1998, gels are not mentioned and the advice given about taking Ibuprofen is no longer good practice. Apart from this, truly a great programme.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Little bit out of date now - static stretching for example - but still a very inspirational book and essential reading if you want to understand your mind's objections to effort - I always said if it wasn't for my legs and my head I'd be a brilliant runner - now i'm trying to train my head. Enjoy is the message, the reading, the training and the running
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is my #1 recommendation for people wanting to train for their first marathon. I read it years ago when training for my first one and it changed my running, and reading it again this year was the same. I enjoy running so much more because of what I have learned from this book.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is for non-runners, and I read it before my first marathon. The book acknowledges and spends much time talking about the psychological burden that fills every step in the marathon training, which I find very helpful.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished my first marathon, using this book as a guide. So many great tips, encouragement, and a complete training plan all-in-one. Everyone thinking about or planning on running their first marathon should be required to read this.
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