Thursday, March 29, 2012

Smart Marathon Training Book Review

This fall, the plan is to run my first ultra, a 50K at The North Face Endurance Challenge. To train for that, I decided to look at ultra training plans as compared to marathon training plans. Needless to say, the plans were all over the map, and none really spoke to me as something I wanted to follow. I could probably run a lot more than I do now, but it seems when I push it too much, I just end up getting injured, which obviously is counterproductive. My comfort zone is three runs a week: a tempo day, hills or speedwork, and a longer slower effort. I add cycling as a crosstraining, because I feel that this is the most complementary sport. None of this is based in science.

I was really excited to hear about Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training, a book that espoused exactly what I was already doing, but explained it from a coaching and scientific perspective. “Old-school marathon training plans ask runners to crank out 70 to 100 miles a week. It's no wonder those who make it to the start line are running ragged. Smart Marathon Training maps out a healthier, more economical approach to training that emphasizes quality over quantity. This innovative program eliminates junk miles, paring down training to three essential runs per week and adding a dynamic strength and cross-training program to build overall fitness. Runners will train for their best performance in less time and avoid the injuries, overtraining, and burnout that come from running too much.”

I feel like this book was personally written with me in mind. I am already planning on adapting the 21 week intermediate marathon training plan to train for the 50K. The biggest difference between what I was doing and this plan is:
  • I’m not just making stuff up as I go along;
  • My cycling will be incorporated in a more meaningful way.
  • I’ll be adding the cross-training program, which should help me get more fit and hopefully lose a bunch of weight, both of which will benefit my running.
I still haven’t decided whether I’ll follow the exercises and weightlifting Horowitz has in the book – I’m leaning more towards something like P90X or Insanity instead. I have a desire to incorporate bodywork exercises rather than actual weightlifting, it seems more natural and beneficial. That detail will be decided later.
Even if you don’t want to follow his plans, Horowitz’ book is a great primer for anyone looking to move beyond the 10K – half marathon, marathon, and beyond. This book is a great reference for any runner’s library.

Source: Smart Marathon Training

About the Author: Jeff Horowitz is a certified running and triathlon coach and a personal trainer who has run more than 150 marathons across six continents. Formerly an attorney, he quit law to pursue his passion for endurance sport and now works with DC Tri; The Nations Triathlon; the nonprofit summer camp ACHIEVE Kids Triathlon; and Team Hope, a charity fund-raising training group that benefits the Hope Connections Center, a cancer-patients service organization. Learn more about Jeff at

More info and other books on the VeloPress website,  follow on Twitter, and Like on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of VeloPress. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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  1. give us a taste of a typical peak week...

  2. I understand the thinking behind these run less plans and for many people they work well. I just happen to run better with more. Not crazy more, but more than 3 days/week. Sounds like a solid plan for you, however.

  3. Good luck with your ultra training! That is some serious biz! Go, Kovas :)

  4. There are so many more training plans coming out that minimize the miles or days running. Some folk swear by them. It all comes down to what works for you. Good luck with the Ultra training. Yikes!

  5. I believe in running more often and shorter distances if you have the time and patience. As you know, I didn't have the patience for this and am paying for it. Basically running 6x per week, 3 short, 2 medium, and 1 long with a ratio of 1:2:3 in minutes so if your long run is 60 minutes, your 2 medium runs are 40 minutes and 3 short runs are 20 minutes.

    Anyway, if you want to check into it, you can start here;search_string=runtraining;#1612485 .


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