The Worst Marathon Training Advice I’ve Ever Heard

As you probably know, I am a huge running nerd. I read more running blogs, books, studies, and articles than is reasonable or necessary.

Bad Marathon Advice

While studies on lifting and running form don’t impress my wife, they help me design better training plans for my runners and write better articles here on Strength Running. I wasn’t always so immersed in running, though.

In 2008 after my 2:44 marathon at New York City, I was injured for six months with ITBS. After a period of eating cookies on my couch and watching reruns of House, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and took action. I got proactive and started researching the best treatment options for my injury.

I also discovered the latest running theories that were influencing the training of the world’s fastest runners. These principles can also be applied to everyone else – so I started experimenting and tweaking my running. I added workouts, changed my mindset, and transformed my training from what it was before my injury.

Now, I’ve been injury-free for three years and I just took over five minutes off my marathon PR, running 2:39:32 at the Philadelphia Marathon. Many of the new training principles I learned have helped other runners, like Lisa and Kris:

“This year I’ve PR’d at every distance that I’ve run: 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and Marathon! And I’m sure there is more out there for me in this Year of the PR. Best decision I ever made was to hire you! 🙂 – Lisa G., CA

“Jason, not sure what kind of mystical powers you have, but I ran a 5k this morning and cut 40 seconds off my PR!” – Kris B., CT

While I would love to have mystical powers, my talents are limited to a good understanding of sound training.

Unfortunately, a lot of what I read is just nonsense. There is training advice that tells you never to run longer than 90 minutes for the marathon! Here’s a free tip: if you do that, you will never run to your potential in the marathon, much less qualify for Boston.

This is What Passes for Mainstream Marathon Advice

I’ve done a lot of research to find what’s available to you for marathon resources. Some of it is shockingly bad. Let’s get it over with:

1. Do “speed work”… on a track!

Speed Work_Bad Marathon Advice

Loosen up_Bad Marathon Advice

Aside from the patronizing tone, we have a bad workout and “so what?” advice here. This is from an article on “marathon drills” and did not include one drill. Tips like these aren’t going to help you one bit – you’ll likely forget them the very next day.

2. This is what injury prevention advice is like on other sites:

Injuries_Bad Marathon Advice

Aggressive injury treatment is much more effective at treating aches and pains than resting and all the other generic injury advice you’ll find. This advice isn’t necessarily bad, just don’t expect it to make you feel much better. And in the long-term, you’re not treating the cause of your injury.

The second thing wrong with this marathon training tip is more insidious: it’s the belief that taking time off from running and just doing things like cycling or pool running will keep you prepared to race well. Maybe in the extreme short-term, like a week or two. You’ll stay in good aerobic shape – but this article fails to mention your structural fitness erodes much more quickly than your endurance.

Structural, or mechanical, fitness is the durability of your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments to withstand the impact forces of running. If you’re cutting your mileage by 50% and doing non-impact exercise the rest of the time, your ability to withstand the mechanical shock of running a marathon is going to leave your legs overly sore – and likely injured.

3. Marathoning in 3 Easy Steps

3 Steps_Bad Marathon Advice

Marathon training this simple is going to leave you injured, frustrated, exhausted, and slow. Few runners can run a successful marathon on three days of training per week – even if it’s designed a lot better than these suggestions. No long run?  I’m speechless.

Why Are These Marathon Tips So Bad?

The problem with all of these examples is that they are broad and over-generalized. Who should listen to them? Someone who’s never run before or a runner with a 4 years of structured running behind them? Unfortunately, most of these tips are simple tactics. There’s no system or support to help you along. They’re not part of a cohesive plan geared to your fitness level.

They leave you floundering for the next great tip. You try a workout from this article, a core exercise from this website, and an injury prevention tactic from another article. Five weeks later you’ve done a lot of random stuff and you’re in the same spot you started.

This upsets me because these suggestions are on some of the largest running and fitness websites in the world. The most visited websites on the internet are recommending you do virtually worthless workouts for the marathon. This advice is unspecific, dangerously over-generalized, and clearly written for the lowest common denominator.

Are you mad? I am outraged.

These tips prompt runners to tell me things like:

“I have tried some exercises but I was never sure whether or not it was actually doing anything for me”

“My ‘plan’ is cobbled together from the various sources I’ve found online and I would LOVE to have some personalized coaching as I’ve never been an active person and know next to nothing about running.”

I cringe when runners tell me that they put a plan together from a bunch of internet sources. We’ve seen today that what’s available online is misleading at best and downright dangerous at worst. Is that how you’re going to run a fast marathon?

It’s no wonder that runners are feeling lost and have no direction in their running. They end up running too much, too soon, too fast and get hurt. Or they burn out and feel overwhelmed, like training for a marathon isn’t sustainable. It is, you just have to train with a plan.

I hope that over the last two years I’ve provided better information than most sources. I think I have and I’m not the only one:

 I’m one of the new-as-of-2011 readers, and very glad to be on the growing bandwagon. Way better than a Runner’s World subscription! – Alex B.

Most marathoners are looking for a personalized plan that will get them to the starting line feeling fresh, fit, and ready to race fast. But most runners spend all day reading random websites (with crappy advice like above) wondering what they should do next. They think, “I just need to figure out a weekly plan and avoid injury.”

Sound familiar?

How Run Your BQ is Different

If you’re looking for another article with generic tips on what pair of shoes to buy, then RYBQ is not for you. The funny thing is, good runners are doing some damn good training out there – but the major running outlets don’t highlight that training. You have to search for it hard and it’s not that accessible.

Run Your BQ is going to change that. Plus, we’re including more support and coaching guidance than you can shake a stick at.

Matt Frazier (of No Meat Athlete) and I have spent hundreds of hours building this website. It has one goal: to get you to run a Boston Qualifying marathon time. There’s enough worthless advice out there, so we’re not going to tell you to rest after every run or to eat a bagel to carb up before a long run.

Our focus is on results – helping you gain endurance, prevent injuries, and build your mileage safely. We want you to run faster and experience the thrill of qualifying for Boston. Instead of a single training plan and general tips, we’re building a system to guide you from the beginning of your training all the way to Hopkinton.

Are you ready?

Run Your BQ is going to cover a lot of ground. You’ll learn how to balance mileage and fast workouts, pick the right training program from our library of plans, what to eat during your training (for both pre-workout fuel and post-workout recovery), and the most important part of marathon training.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The most valuable part of RYBQ is that you’ll be able to connect with other members to ask questions, give feedback, provide support, and motivate each other through the middle weeks of marathon training.

We’re opening this up soon so stay tuned. Until we do, don’t miss any of the private marathon reports we send out. Sign up here if you want in.

We’ll send you The BQ Blueprint and even more resources to help you run a better marathon – for free.

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  1. Great article Jason. Worst advice I got (self inflicted) was doing some knee strengthening exercises I found on Runner’s World that wound up making my knee pain worse (patella tendonitis). Personalized training and rehab is the best way to go!

  2. Brett Kinggard says:

    Jason, I just recently discovered your site a couple of months ago and so far i am impressed with your insight and passion. Looking forward to the RYBQ.

    I found your site after searching for remedies for ITBS and have begun using the strectching drills you described. So far so good.

    The worst marathon training advice I’ve ever heard:
    “Do all your runs at a slow pace so that you don’t wear yourself out. Then at the marathon you’ll have strength to run fast.”

    Luckily I knew better, and politely thanked them for their advice.

    • That advice is laughable. My grandmother told me not to “overdo my marathon” last November. I said “thanks Nana, I won’t.”

      • Actually Jason that advise is not laughable. I have been training now for 4 months, having completed some 1/2 marathons, running 4 times a week and NEVER run above my MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) which is 142 bpm using my heart rate monitor. I started this with what I would consider poor aerobic function and this showed when I was running 10.5 minute miles for 142bpm, now 4 months later I am down at 8.5 minute miles and have NEVER had one “fast run” during this period. As a result I am never injured, never tired, and look forward to ALL my runs. I am looking to get down to 7.5 minute miles for the marathon using this method and if I can improve using this then anyone can. Why would speedwork be needed when its not an anaerobic race but an aerobic race. I followed Mark Allens advice and I think this article says it all dont you?

        • I disagree with a lot of things in that article that I’ve discussed previously on SR. It could work for a few runners (but keep in mind he’s referencing triathlon, not marathon), but it’s not how marathoners should train.

          • Hi Jason,

            Mark Allen is/was an Ironman, so his competitions when he competed finished with the marathon. 26.2 miles after 180km on a bike after a 3.6km swim. I believe that for an aerobic race, which a marathon is, then train aerobically but each to their own I suppose.

          • Antonio says:

            Worst advice I ever received was to wear orthotics.

        • Tony,

          The thing is, as you stated, you’ve been running for all of 4months now. For beginner runners, when it comes to the issue of getting faster, it doesn’t matter a ton how you train, it just matters that you do train. The improvement you are seeing is in big part due simply to your newness to the sport and consistent training.

          Additionally, HR training is an interesting thing, mostly because its just another way of visualizing the training you should be doing anyway. I’d love to know how your pace varies during the week, because I’d suspect you find yourself with “fast days” and “slow days”.

          Lastly, speedwork for distance races does not mean anaerobic training.

          • Good point James. You can’t really draw any conclusions about what works/doesn’t work/is IDEAL training after 4 months. Besides, if you look at the training of elite runners they don’t use “MAF” and try to keep their training under a specific heart rate. I’m not saying everyone should train like professionals, but it’s demonstrative of “what works best.”

            One thing I’d amend is that speed work for distance races (up to the marathon) CAN mean anaerobic training, but not necessarily. Tempo, Marathon Pace, steady state, progressions, are all examples of aerobic “speed” work (though I prefer to call them simply faster workouts since speed typically means sprinting).

  3. Great article Jason. After having run two marathons with high mileage weeks peaking at 70 I know you have to put in a lot of work. I don’t understand the run three days/week plan.

    I have used the dynamic warmups from Strength Running before going for my runs. I used to just get dressed and head out the door or try to do some static stretching. The dynamic routine has me feeling better as I head out the door. My heart rate increases a little and gets the blood flowing.

    I also used the IT Band Rehab routine when I started to develop some IT Band pain. I was able to avert serious ITB issues.

    I look forward to reading more on your RYBQ site as you continue to develop it. Keep up the great work!


    • Thanks Matt! That’s some great mileage, I’m sure your marathon performances reflected that.

      • Ian Simon says:

        I’m puzzled by the references to a 3-run week – the article says 2-3 aerobic threshold runs (one of which gets longer every week, so is presumably your ‘long run’) / a tempo interval session / an active recovery day (cross-training) / a race-pace run. Maybe it could be clearer, but that’s 5 runs and a cross-train day. Agreed its not a massive amount of volume, but I would have thought that’s a reasonable basis for a newbie’s training plan, considering its generic advice.

        • That’s exactly the issue with this advice – it’s entirely too general. On top of that, new runners shouldn’t add a mile to their longest run every week and running 400m/800m repeats (at what pace?!) doesn’t make any sense. Ultimately, my issue with these three tips is that they can be interpreted in 100 different ways, so you’re going to get runners doing a lot of wacky things for the intervals or “pace” runs.

  4. Worst advice I received was in response to my question: “how do I increase my turnover rate?”

    The answer “run a lot of really fast intervals”

    Just found your site a couple weeks ago and still soaking it in. Nice.

    • Wow, just terrible. Thanks for sharing Charles – let me know if you have any questions as you’re soaking it in 🙂

  5. Umm, so… “I used the ITB Rehab Routine regularly to beat ITBS in 3 weeks and now I’m feeling great – no pain!” No really, you stole my comment. I found Strength Runner right as my IT band pain was through the roof, and I’ve since started doing the IT band rehab exercises 3-4x a week and incorporated regular strength and cross training, and I. FEEL. GREAT!! You are awesome. I’m really excited for RYBQ! Although I have a long (LONG!) way to go to BQ, I know that I’ll get there.

  6. My biggest beef is with the whole “Run Less Run Faster Run Better Whatever” approach. I have little doubt that high mileage not only makes you a better runner (not just for the season, but over the years) but that it also helps prevent injuries, if done right. And if you use the Core Routines, ITB Rehab Routine (even if you aren’t injured), and Jay Johnson drills that you have pointed out here.

    • Yes, Yes, and Yes. Agree 100% Greg. Runners who are looking for the minimum amount of training to qualify for Boston or run a faster marathon will never run at their best.

      • Jonathan Smith says:

        The point of the Run Less Run Faster program from FIRST is to prevent injury. At age 46, I cannot do high mileage and stay injury free and if I’m not injury free I cannot train. (Never have been able to train 16 weeks for a marathon.) So, it’s a balance between health and fitness, which is still unique to each runner. With FIRST, you still have to do cross-training workouts with the FIRST program so I like to swim 3-4 times per week at 1.5 miles per swim.

        See you all in Boston next month.

  7. I was told – in good faith and with no ill will – that I didn’t need to do anything to strengthen my lower body, and that running was enough. And though I could finish the distance on nothing but medium effort running, I couldn’t really run the whole thing. I now think – in large part, due to your site – that glute/hip strength is vital to healthy and fast running. However, the most helpful aspect of your site (and Matt’s, which I also love) is the tone of the writing. You both impress upon the reader that they can do it (whatever it is), but that hard work is required.

  8. After my first marathon in December 2010, I developed a bad case of ITBS. I spent 3-4 weeks just floundering around, hoping the problem would simply go away with the usual RICE treatment. Unsatisfied by my lack of progress, that’s when I got serious and started looking for better options. Luckily I found the ITB rehab routine here, and within another 2-3 weeks was back to running pain free, and have been ever since. I still do the exercises 2 or 3 times a week to keep me strong.

  9. I can’t pinpoint exactly bad advice I’ve heard, but it seems these days on sites like Twitter and dailymile people aren’t honest enough. Sometimes, though, I think people don’t want to hear what they know. Also, your site and emails have some great tips and advice – you’ve helped me be patient, yet persistent.

  10. I am a relatively new runner compared to most. I started about a year and a half ago. I am preparing for my first 1/2 Marathon. I have always run with some ITB issues–but it was under control until I did a New Year’s Double. New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day run. I had such a bad flair up of ITB pain that I had to walk the second day. I was totally discouraged. I searched the internet and came across your ITB workout routine. I have been doing it ever since. It’s getting more manageable every day. I bought a new bike and I have added cross training to help strengthen my legs. I have changed running clubs and have started working on endurance and speed. I appreciate your good sound advice. I need all the encouragement I can get right now.

  11. Worst advice I’ve ever had was my friend telling me I should only run 3 times a week to get enough rest for the marathon. Rest assured I had to educate him on how to train.
    BTW thank you for sharing these. These are pretty ridiculous ideas people get.

  12. Rob Fatzinger says:

    1) worst advice i ever heard (from a Joggers World article) “if you are still feel sore a mile into your workout call it a day and walk home”.
    I can’t remember a run in the last few years that hasn’t taken me a few miles to loosen up and feel good.
    A close second would be the tons of articles advocating tons of cross-training (swimming, elliptical etc…) each week and only running 3 or 4 times a week with weekly mileage topping out at 35-40.
    I did a few marathons on this type of training and they sucked, performance-wise and how i felt. the last few years I have been running 65-90mpw during my training cycles and 50+mpw during the ‘off-season”.

    2) i have hip and calf issues. i have been doing a bunch of the exercises you have posted as a warm up and they feel much better. I managed to run just of 3,000 miles last year and have a current run streak of 440 days

    • Thanks for the comment Rob, that’s some laughable advice! Nice work on the miles too, I think we were about tied 🙂

      • Rob Fatzinger says:

        we might be tied mileage-wise but you finish yours a lot sooner than i do, with my 3:28 marathon PR. It did (just by a hair) get me into Boston, 10 weeks of training to go. but i hope to improve on that and do it again in 2013 so looking forward to all the BQ articles

    • Depending on your goals, this can be good or bad advice. If your goal is to finish a marathon and you don’t mind being in alot of pain the last 9.2 miles of the race and you don’t mind being sidelined for several months after the race, then some of these minimal running programs (like the ‘Gallowalk’ method) will do. If your goal is to run a PR or BQ then this is bad advice.

  13. The worst advice – run a long run only every 2 weeks. To get under 3hrs? Right….If you want to run fast marathon, you need to run a lot of distance, but not the way most of the training programs suggest – only rare and very slow long runs and all the speed and cadence work on ultra short dinstances. My times did not improve until I started to run at least 2 mid-distances (16-20miles) and one long on (20-30miles) every week during training. Above all, I make the longer runs harder with hills, cadence, and speed workouts and the short days (10-13miles) easier with running just for fun at easy pace. Of course I am a seasoned runner and 70-100 miles/week did not come suddenly.

    Another thing I learned is to keep up with a decent mileage during off-season, in my case 50-60 miles/week. That got rid of the yearly shin splints (innocuous, but annoying).

    I also learned that most programs offer too long and too drastic taper. During taper I keep up with a decent volume, just less strenuous workouts. It did wonders for me – namely NO WALL.

    Finally, very few training programs incorporate core body workouts, stretching routines, and cross training. I had to run ING NYC with wrapped up knee and pain killers at very disappointing time due to ITBS to learn this lesson (which is how I arrived at this great website). Sure, rest will eventually take care of the symptom, but will do nothing for the cause. It is much to easy to blame overuse for this injury. In my case weak hip abductors and abdominal muscle groups that failed to hold the body in a correct position during fatigue were to blame. Daily ITB rehab combined with other strength workouts, foam rolling even if it seems no longer necessary, and sensible stretching got me back on the road in two weeks after the initial implementation. I am running further, and faster now with no injuries.

    …just a blond adding her five cents :))

  14. Hey Jason, the worst advice I got was to go buy the most expensive, most cushiony shoe….Well, that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done!

    As for how strengthrunning has helped. I only found you a few days ago, but I’m feeling really motivated right now….especially about eating right. Thanks!

  15. Hi Jason,
    New to your site and enjoying so much of what I’ve read so far especially the article about the theme to Born To Run. Looking forward to testing out what I’ve read.
    I’ve been turned off by so much of the advice that is spewed by the popular magazine, etc. It is very disheartening to find so many studies based only on men and the attitude that women have to train a special easier way so we don’t hurt our delicate bodies. I’m bothered that we’re expected to follow this advice like lemmings. So turned off that I’ve decided to explore ultras where there is much less canned advice and more adventure and experimenting. It’s more fun that way, and isn’t that a lot of why we do this?
    Thank you for your site and for not writing like the others!

  16. Jason,

    Love the site. Planning to spend some more time with it this week.

    Bad advice. Well, as fairly new runner (almost 2 years) surrounded by running stores I’ve heard a lot, and enjoyed the negative results at times. Here are a few samples, with sarcasm:

    -If you want to run long slow down a LOT, instead of the crazy idea that you should not run a distance that you can’t do at a respectable speed.
    -You really need an awesome, supportive, hard, orthotic insert, such as Footbalance, for $120, of course so that your foot and leg muscles can properly atrophy.
    -If you want to get serious and push up to the next level or distance you really need to join a running group, after all the constant chatter, pit stops, slow downs, and water breaks will match the needs and abilities of your body and mind. And, if anything, going it alone is a recipe for failure because you’re probably not psychologically strong.
    -Stay off of trails. You’ll twist an ankle, and it’s surely worse to have an acute injury than a chronic one.
    -Your pronation means you need a “stability” shoe. What’s that? No, don’t be silly. You can’t correct your form. Will you be paying with cash or credit?
    -You should load up on carbs the night before a run, because, you know, that’s how your body works. Carbs in, energy out, and only in 6-8 hours.
    -Running with music or headphones is just unsafe. You might not hear someone coming up to pass you, and such accidents are frequent at races. And it’s not that you’d use your eyes to anticipate such a thing.
    -The machines at the local gym are fantastic for a good “core” workout because they isolate muscles and that of course is the best way to get stonger. It’s not like the body is a system of muscles that needs to be worked together.
    -Gel or gu is a must for long runs, because you really need some artificial junk at some point, in addition to caffeine, and you really, really need to put sugar in your gut in the midst of a long run.
    -You should always take the next day off after a run, because the infallible, unquestionable, unchangeable laws of supercompensation.
    -You need to focus on a race and work up to it. Otherwise, you won’t want to run, because racing is what running is about.
    -If your schedule is really limited you can still build up for a full marathon. And, even if you just “survive” it’s worth it. It’s a badge of honor, that you survived, like a self-inflicted boot camp followed by chronic injuries. And, afterwards that “survived” experience will surely put you back on the road for more.
    -You should stretch a lot before every run, and afterwards. To not do so is just crazy and reckless.
    -Stay away from the popular brands of shoes and go with the “technical,” specialized, pure, small running companies.
    -Running on a treadmill at the gym is a great way to train. It just takes some getting used to. And besides, you get to catch up on all those episodes of “Married with Children” that you missed 20 years ago.

    Well, that’s enough for now. I believe much of the rubbish out there is tied to companies and individuals that are trying to make a buck, though they may even drink their own Kool Aide. And, I would say a second culprit is the common felt need to get people into full marathons when they really don’t have sufficient time to properly train for such distance. Instead of running a full most people should be encouraged to run a strong and fast half, not to mention helping them to love running for reasons outside of racing.

    But what do I know?

  17. I was never too keen on fast tempo session although I think a few can be beneficial.
    I try to use only time to measure my workouts. a plan a bit like

  18. Glen Bain says:

    Interesting details Jason,

    After doing about 18 marathons over the past five years, reading through these comments confirms what I was thinking all along – practice makes perfect. Equally, true success will not come without appropriate workload. Gotta put the miles in man, that is the proper way to prepare for a run of many miles. Thanks for really driving this all important message home in such eloquent ways, the readings were most inspiring for me. Keep up the good work Bro.

  19. Abigail Johnson says:

    So what do you advise to do in this situation? I had to stop running 2 1/2 weeks before running Boston this year (it’s in one week exactly) because of extreme Achilles Tendonitis (left) I’m going to PT and doing their exercises, and still able to do strength training, spin, swim…..basically anything except run. What, if any, significant changes do you think I’ll see during the big race next Monday? My Achilles is feeing almost 100 percent now, btw….but I’m still holding off on my running….

    • Ideal scenario? Don’t run Boston. That’s a long time to not run before a marathon and it’s begging for another injury or a flareup of the achilles tendinopathy. But if you’re running Boston regardless, race conservatively and pray.

  20. Help! I’m doing 27 marathons in 27 days and its 6am day 2 and I’m hurting bad, back of right knee and front of left knee, right ankle, thighs and blisters on feet its for action cancer a local charity here in northern Ireland. Any advice would be helpful many thanks Hugh

  21. I have decided to run a marathon for charity later on in the year and I am abit concerned I will be able to complete the event but I have found your article of great interest. I have not really received any advice at the moment apart from to start slowly and build up the distance gradually which seems pretty straightforward but I am checkin a number of sites out that do give various advice on training and what to eat etc so will report back with my findings.

  22. Thanks yes I have a few on board,
    Day 13 done and feeling better all over, Physio helps, but left shin still sore. Ill get there m8

  23. Jason, I think a poorly planned out 3 times a week marathon training program is not great, but nor is a poorly planned out 5-6 times a week marathon program. I do 5-6 marathons a season and hit 2 to 3 PRs intentionally in those races in a season, with no injuries … and I only train 3 days a week, but well planned out. A tempo day, interval day & long session day (peak at 25kms, first 20 slow & last 5 fast). I think each person’s body is different too.

  24. Really great article and so happy you covered this! I have, for fun, looked up advice about running and cannot believe the nonsense out there. I’ve been running all my life and best advice I ever got was from my father (passed away a couple years ago). All he told me when I asked him what he thought about all the advice out there about running (and he was a good runner) was “Just run and have fun” Every time I run a marathon I just remember “Just run and have fun!”

  25. So glad I came across this. It’s exhausting reading so many conflicting articles. I’m training for the Chicago Marathon in October. This will be my first one. I’ve done 6-7 half marathons with a PR of just under 2 hrs. My goal is to break 4 hrs. Can you please give me the link to your training program and your IT Band exercise plan? I’m terrified that will return without proper training. Thanks in advance!!

  26. Alexander says:

    Run Less Run Faster works. The principles are proven. The tests with real folks has shown it to work and it has worked for me in cutting time over and over again. Depending on how gifted you are, different programs do different things. It’s kinda like shoes. Some folks are best in Hokas and some are best in minimalist or in between. No judgement we are all different but I’ve never know a person who really ran the Run Less Program as designed and not cut their time.

  27. dctrtuba says:

    A terrible back injury (car accident) ended my wonderful time as a runner.
    What annoys me these days is that running has been transformed into just another aspect of the foolish weight loss craze. It’s insulting to the sport that I loved so much.

    Now, everyone thinks that they’re a runner. I still believe that running is a very dangerous sport (if you don’t know what you’re doing), and dieting and running should NEVER be mixed.

    Every time I see someone running on concrete, I just have to shake my head and keep walking. There isn’t a running shoe in the world that’s going to protect anyone from concrete. The asphalt is bad enough….but at least it absorbs some of the shock.

  28. Worst training advice? The generic kind.
    I started using the “run less run faster training plan” last October. I’ve been running for about 6 years and in races from 10k to 100k but after a 100mile dnf I decided to take at least a year off from ultras and intense training for that and decided to focus on improving my speed on shorter distances. Hence the book.

    I am now into my 10th month of being on the sidelines because of stress fractures in my pelvic bone that stopped me dead in my tracks, (one moment I am running and the next I could barely walk home) which meant I couldn’t even walk the first 4 months without pain. Right now – on advice of my PT – I am slowly starting to move towards running again (5x 3min walk – 1 min run is the max; so far I have made it up to 3 intervals without pain) but I won’t be able to use running as a cardio exercise for at least another 6 months to a year.

    I don’t blame the book perse but I do think it should be emphasised that this is a very intense training program and any mechanical or other physical problems you might have, will come out during the execution of this plan.
    Furthermore, the concrete sidewalks. I went from training on dirt trails to sidewalk; the most unforgiving surface around. You might as well get a hammer and beat your spine, hips and knees with it. (this might be the reason they advice to do the speed work on a track btw).

    My recommendation? If you want to enjoy running for a long time to come but you want to start a training plan, any plan, find a good PT to give you a once over to check for any possible problems (I had 2 sideways curves in my back and one hip that was tilted out) you might have without realising (and believe me you, that IS possible.).
    It was a very tough lesson to learn for me and I do not wish this on anyone. Same with the gained couch potato pounds.. They’re a bitch to get rid off 🙂

  29. I read an article in a runner’s magazine that suggested that you should not drink anything while running a marathon. Clearly this person did not run Boston in 2012 when the temperature reached 90 degrees. While some people might be able to do this for a cold race, I think it was a dangerous suggest.


  1. […] that these people are following the same tired advice and are getting the same results: injuries, insecure training, and hopelessness. They feel […]

  2. […] Unfortunately, I see these types of emails often. It perfectly illustrates that most runners are confused – often by poor training advice. […]

  3. […] a lot of bad running advice out there and it’s aimed at those who love “easy to read” articles. They […]

  4. […] Less than two months after working with me, he ran a low-key marathon to gauge his fitness and see how he was doing. With no specific preparation or goal to run fast, Terry ran 3:04 for a PR of about three minutes. His recovery went well and soon he was back at his marathon training. […]

  5. […] could have cobbled a plan together himself from the mass of bad marathon advice out there, but where would he be now? Likely in the same place. After all, the definition of […]

  6. […] what a difference more sophisticated training could make. But unfortunately, there’s too much bad marathon advice on the web that is too simplistic and even incorrect. It doesn’t include comprehensive advice […]

  7. […] unfortunately, most training advice is terrible and makes me cringe. It leaves runners with no direction, skipping from one random workout to […]

  8. […] which makes me nervous. We’ve seen before how training advice can be downright terrible. Be careful where you get your training and running nutrition […]

  9. […] Some runners think sprinting 200′s is a great workout for the marathon. [More bad marathon advice] […]

  10. […] And if you do, you know it’s just bad marathon advice. […]

  11. […] coaching guidance is just terrible. But there are pillars of light in the dark, providing sound advice when you need […]

  12. […] I found this on the internet under “the worst marathon training advice I’ve ever heard”: […]

  13. […] The Worst Marathon Training Advice I’ve Ever Heard […]

  14. […] Before you begin building mileage to follow Pheidippides’ footsteps, it is imperative to have a base mileage established. The rule of thumb I often use to advise newbie runners is to make sure that you can run comfortably (at any pace) for 30 minutes or 3 miles before attempting to build distance. Build your base mileage slowly, by running at a comfortable pace with periods of anaerobic threshold to push you into higher speeds and mileage before beginning your training program. Once you feel comfortable with your baseline, you can slowly begin to implement your training program. […]