Whether you're planning to run your first marathon this year or want to improve your time, there are some fabulous rmarathon training books out there to help you.
Especially for beginners, I highly recommend Marathon: You can do it! by Jeff Galloway. A columnist for Runners World and author of numerous running books, Galloway was an Olympian in 1972 and broke the U.S. 10-mile record in 1973. He has coached hundreds of thousands of runners. Galloway's trademark is a goal to train injury-free, and he articulates a terrific argument for a run/walk marathon method to meet or improve your goal times.
Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon can be used for any level marathoner, but is particularly good for those wanting a PR (personal record). Higdon, winner of 4 world master championships, columnist for Runners World and author of myriad running books, goes into a lot of great detail about speedwork and strategy, as well as dietary recommendations for your best performance.
Matt Fitzgerald's Brain Training for Runners is quite technical, as Fitzgerald has expertise and interest in the neurological as well as the physiological component of running. Fitzgerald's training systems, if followed, are sure to help you improve your endurance and speed. The book includes training plans for various distances at various ability levels. Notable is Fitzgerald's belief in the importance of listening to your body's clues to tailor your training to your needs, goals, and talents. For example, Fitzgerald stresses running all out when you feel great and cutting your workout in half or slowing down when you're not hitting your time goals; listening to your body prevents injury and over training.
All three books are full of fabulous tips and wisdom, speed prediction charts, and multiple training programs for various levels or goals. Their websites, also complete with training programs and advice, are linked above.
The Baltimore Running Festival is scheduled for October 16th this year and includes full and half marathons. If you are a beginner or trying to improve your time, the above running experts recommend a six month training program, which means starting this month!