Inside a Marathon, written by Scott Fauble and Ben Rosario, is an account of Fauble’s training leading up to and following the 2018 New York Marathon. The book is organized like a training log, with each chapter beginning with the training spreadsheet that contained Fauble’s planned workouts, what he actually completed, and his thoughts about how the workout went each day. The completed spreadsheet with runs logged is followed by two narratives, one from Ben Rosario, Fauble’s coach, and one from Fauble. I’d held off on reading the book in large part because I couldn’t imagine how or why reading a professional runner’s training logs would be interesting, despite the fact that I posted my own training logs to the interwebs for years. Yet, when I saw it was included in my Kindle Unlimited subscription, I decided it was worth a try.
I’m glad I did. In terms of overall applicability to training and my goal to become a well-sponsored competitive ultrarunner, it was the most useful book I’ve read in a few years. And, I read a lot (follow me on Goodreads!), so saying that really means something.
Overall, the usefulness of the book was the insight it provided into what it might feel like in the middle of a training cycle. Training as a second job (i.e., not having running as a career) means that some days training is really hard. In the past, it had always been my instinct to pull way back on training when that happened in the fear of ending up overtrained, which can end a training cycle. In the narrative following the training logs, Fauble described how his body would feel in the middle of the hard weeks – describing, for example, how his legs would feel like sausages in his own skin. He also described the fatigue that would persist throughout the day during peak training weeks, fatigue that persisted except for when he was in a workout or run – in those workouts, however, he was able to hit his target paces (or sometimes not). From the best of my non-specialist training, it seems to me that Fauble was describing overreaching, which can lead to overtraining if appropriate rest isn’t taken.
For me, as I enter a training cycle that will hopefully lead to some speed records and a race win or two (if we ever get to race again) understanding that pros like Fauble feel extreme fatigue had a lot of value for me. First, it reinforced the idea that sometimes running isn’t fun, even for the pros, but that we just keep putting in the work. This is an important mindset – sometimes I think I want it all to be fun. Second, and perhaps more important, Fauble’s description of how his body would feel during intense training helped me to understand how my legs were feeling and that it was, mostly normal. It was also a good reminder of the importance of rest. I think I’m programmed to believe that more work is always better, which likely stems from years of weight loss. I’m not trying to lose weight, and rest is key to hit target paces and good workouts. Finally, Throughout the book, Fauble also described his fears about whether he was doing enough or too much despite having a coach, Rosario, whose job it was to make sure that he was ready – fears that I can absolutely understand, although they are better now that I have a coach. Reading Inside a Marathon was a good reminder to trust my coach – who is trained to do this – and leave the execution of what she writes to me.
From a pure running fan perspective, I also just loved reading race recaps and hearing about the human side of the runners I follow. The recap of the NYC marathon and 2019 Boston marathon were fantastic, and I’d never read a recap from the perspective of a coach. Plus, Fauble is funny, and the commentary made it all the more worth it. If you’d like insight into the life of professional athlete, even if you are not a runner, the book is fun. But, it’s even better if you are in training for something, and I guess, you could technically use it as a training plan for your own marathon dreams—although that is absolutely not the purpose of the book, and no one would recommend that.
Still, I’m glad I read it, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s basically risk-free.
Please note that we use Amazon affiliates links in this book review. If you decide to purchase Inside a Marathon from this link, Contemporary Spinster will make a small amount from this purchase (but it won’t cost you anything extra).