The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking - Book Review

Dave McGovern Shows How to Train to Walk a 26.2 Mile Marathon

The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking
The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking. Courtesy of Amazon

The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking is an excellent book to prepare you to walk the marathon. The author, Dave McGovern, has coached hundreds, maybe thousands of walkers for the Leukemia Society Team in Training program. Often these are walkers who have never walked a long distance event. On the flip side, he is an elite racewalker who knows training and competing at an Olympic level.

This combination makes him the leading expert in walking, rather than running, a marathon.

Dave's style is factual and fun as he leads you through everything you need to know to walk a marathon, for the first time or to improve your performance.

What You Learn in the Complete Guide to Marathon Walking

18-WeekTraining Schedules for Slow, Medium, and Fast Walkers: These marathon training schedules lay out how you should train throughout the week for 18 weeks after you have already established a base mileage level. They are laid out in a one-page-each format, that is easy to copy and keep handy. He first describes the different types of walking workouts you should do that will improve different aspects of your fitness and endurance. Then he puts these into the training schedule tables for each speed of walker.

Stretches, Drills and Walking Form: McGovern illustrates these with photos and easy instructions. He helps you correct mistakes that you make in overstriding and shows how to use your feet best for a quick, powerful stride.

Shoe and Gear Advice: This includes the best shoes to wear for the marathon and what to wear on race day. He also covers some gadgets such as using a heart rate monitor. However, the book was written in 2000, before the era of apps and fitness bands and so it doesn't cover newer tech. The shoe and clothing advice is timeless.

Diet, Hydration, Carbo-loading, Energy Snacks: McGovern gives advice about what to eat during training as well as what to use during long training walks and the marathon.

Where to Train: How to use a variety of places to train, including walking on sidewalks and roads, on a track, on a treadmill or even at the mall.

Race Day: What to expect at the starting line. Some of the advice may become dated, as with timing chips which have evolving forms and technology. But much of it is timeless or will occur at smaller marathons. He has advice for each portion of the marathon course: starting, middle miles, hitting the wall and finishing.

Recovery: What should you do the morning after?

Fundraising Advice: For those doing charity marathon programs, McGovern has advice from his close experience with the Leukemia Society Team in Training program. The book was written before it became common for walkers to have a personal donor web page, but you can translate his advice on letter writing to that media. The rest of the advice is timeless.

Lists: The included lists of walker-friendly marathons, walking organizations, gear sources and info sources will become dated, but still provides a starting point.

Bottom Line: You Need this Book for Marathon Walking

This is the one book that every marathon walker should own. Dave maintains contact with marathon walkers and I often consult him for advice to give walkers. You can visit Dave's web site for more information about his clinics and books.