I ran a marathon 3 years ago. 2 mistakes made it even more draining than I was expecting.

  1. I took a wrong turning and ran somewhere between 1 and 2 extra miles
  2. . I chose the Potteries Marathon. A course that hilly was a bad choice for a first time marathoner.

Despite that, I completed the course. It took over 6 hours, and was pretty horrendous by the end – but I did it. And that is always there as motivation when I find running hard.

The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer lays out a training plan, but I followed this one here. What the book did do though, was gave me the confidence a marathon was actually possible.

About The Authors

There are 3 authors of the The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer.

  • David Whitsett – A Professor of Psychology
  • Forrest Dolgener – A Professor of Exercise Physiology
  • Tajala Mabon Kole – An ex student of the above

Whittsett and Dolgener taught a highly successful marathon course at The University Of Northern Iowa. The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer is based around that. Kole took the class in 1995, and gives the students’ perspective.


The book has a series of chapters. 1 for each week of the training plan (16 in total). The strength of having 3 authors lies in the structure of each chapter, which is laid out in 3 parts matching the knowledge of each:

  • A mental technique to focus on.
  • Advice on the physical side of training
  • A personal account of an ex student who completed a maraton by following the training plan.

I found that this combination produced a very readable book, as well as providing some great information. The stories of people like me, non-runners (or at least I was when I decided to do the marathon) was a great thing to relate to and made running a marathon seem achievable.

Key Lessons

Don’t set a time target for your first marathon. I’ve talked about this before when I ran my first 5k post diagnosis. Its a truth that is even more important if running a marathon. If you’re making a decision as monumental as running 26 miles then completing it should be one of the greatest moments of your life. In the book’s words:

Can you imagine? You have just gone 26.2 miles for the first time in your life and you feel you have failed. Now that WOULD be a waste.

It can be done. At the time of writing the class had seen 200 students. Only 1 did not finish a marathon, and that was done to not drinking enough during the run.

The mental side of things is as important as the physical. A lot of self belief is required to run a marathon. Will I stick to the training? Can I do this? Can I really keep going? Self-doubt will creep in, of course it will. Even if your aim is less lofty than a marathon. But you can do it. And the devices given do help. One thing that came back to me during my first 5k as a type 1 diabetic, was the advice on repeating the mantra ‘I am a marathoner’. Something as simple as that seemed like it would never work to me, but it has served me well over the years and kept me running when I wanted to give up.

Stay Focused. I have to fight my inclination to switch off when running, often losing myself in random thoughts. It is important though, to try and stay in the moment, making sure you are running with good form and at the right pace. Especially if you are running long distances. You do not want to go too quickly and find yourself in a position where you have to drag yourself to the finish!


If you are thinking of running a marathon then The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer is definitely worth reading. The personal stories are all by every day people and do a great job at convincing that anyone can complete a marathon.

As a caveat, you’ll need to look into nutrition. The advice in the book is general and not aimed at people with diabetes. I’d also strongly urge you to seek medical advice before attempting to run the distance as well.

Its a good book to read even if you are not thinking of running a marathon soon. Its well written, and the advice and stories inside are useful to runners of any distance.

Published by Marcus Pezzaioli

I started www.diabeticstokebloke.com in September 2018 to document my attempts to get fit after a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in April the same year. I believe sharing my story can help anyone who is afraid to exercise with type 1 diabetes, and show that it is not as complicated as it may appear from other sources of information out there. If I can do it, with no CGM and on MDI, starting out as somebody who does not fit the athletic profile whatseover; then anybody can.

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