Our Approach To Training Plans, Exercise Guides, And Our Recommended Practices

At Marathon Handbook, when it comes to giving advice about exercise, fitness training, running plans, and strength training programs, our editorial team does its best to analyze the full body of evidence to help you make safe and effective choices.

We understand the paramount importance of reliable and credible information when it comes to fitness advice, exercise science, and workout programs.

In today’s digital age, the internet is flooded with a vast array of resources and voices, each claiming to be the definitive guide to how to build muscle or run faster, and what workouts to do for “quick weight loss,” “muscle growth,” “fat loss,” “running faster,” or a myriad of other fitness and sports performance.

The Internet Can’t Replace An Individualized Workout Program or Training Plan: Our Disclaimer

While we pride ourselves on providing trustworthy guidance, it’s important to remember that our exercise guides are intended for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.

They should never replace fitness training advice from a qualified fitness professional, such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). 

Furthermore, we often cover popular strength training plans or workout programs for informational purposes only that are not our recommended approaches to strength training, marathon training, or other fitness training for safe practices.

Rather, we want to be a comprehensive resource where you can read about common training plans or fad workouts to get unbiased information about how the workout program works and the pros and cons of the training program as written.

We try our best to provide safer alternatives and important contraindications for various exercises and workout programs that are often omitted by the company or “guru“ behind said program.

However, we are not a medical resource. The internet is a powerful tool for education and guidance but cannot replicate the expertise and nuanced evaluation a qualified healthcare practitioner can provide.

A person running on a track.

Our Process Of Information Verification

Our commitment to providing you with accurate and evidence-based information starts with our verification process. 

Our team of experts, composed of certified running coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, and certified personal trainers, is dedicated to scrutinizing the latest research from the most recognized and reputable sources for exercise science and fitness training. 

We understand the importance and effect of adhering to a high standard of accuracy in the information we provide. 

Here’s a brief overview of our verification process:

#1: Expert Oversight

Our guides are authored and reviewed by individuals with extensive experience in their respective fields. Our team’s collective knowledge ensures that the information we present is both reliable and up-to-date.

#2: Citing Reputable Sources

We source our information from peer-reviewed journals, renowned medical institutions, and reputable sports science organizations. This commitment to using credible sources guarantees that the information you receive is rooted in scientific evidence.

If a study from a reputable source lacks depth or contains irregularities, we will do our best to highlight it and discuss what it means.

Each citation will be evaluated based on authority, accuracy, time period, and acceptance by the industry.

Here are a few of the resources that we regularly use:

As well as many other reputable sources, such as those from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Council for Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

#3: Regular Updates

The world of fitness, sports, and exercise training is constantly evolving. 

As new studies emerge, we read them and regularly update our guides to reflect the most current research and best practices.

This ensures that our advice is in line with the latest industry standards.

A person with a running coach.

General Recommendations For Workout Programs, Exercises, Running Plans, and Strength Training Plans

With any exercise program or fitness training plan that we create, some general principles should be followed, but remember that individual cases can vary greatly. 

Here are some overarching recommendations to consider:

#1: Consult a Professional

If you’re unsure about how to perform an exercise properly, which exercises you should do, how much weight to lift, how to progress your running, or any other individualized training question, consult a qualified fitness practitioner.

They can provide guidance and a personalized training plan or modifications as needed. 

#2: Rest and Recovery

Rest is a key component of any training plan, regardless of your fitness level. It allows the body to heal and regenerate so that you glean all of the benefits of your workouts without getting injured or overtraining.

However, the frequency of rest days and whether you can do active recovery workouts or should take total rest will vary depending on the type of training you are doing, your fitness level, and whether you are experiencing pain, signs of overtraining, or simply feeling well but trying to allow your body to absorb the benefits of your workouts.

#3: Progressive Overload

If your workout program has you doing the same exercises or the same routine week after week, you will likely see little progress after a while because your body will adapt to the physiological demands of the workout, and you’ll hit a fitness plateau.

Gradually and systematically increasing the difficulty of your workouts helps induce continual progress in your muscular strength, power, speed, and aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

#4: Varying the Stress Applied

It is important to vary your exercises and workouts to maximize potential and minimize the risk of injuries.

We’ll discuss these in more detail below.

A person tying their running shoe.

Philosophy Of Choosing the Best Workouts, Exercises, or Training Plans

The exercise training market is saturated with all sorts of workout guides, running training plans, strength training programs, triathlon training plans, and so on.

Picking the best exercises to perform, the best workout plan, the best marathon training plan or other running program, etc., can become extremely daunting. 

Over my 15 years working with clients as a certified personal trainer, running coach, and triathlon coach, I have developed certain best practices that are always evolving. 

Here is how I think about fitness training and workout programming. This general philosophy won’t apply to each individual’s specific scenario.

#1: Self Assessment

It is important to be honest about your current fitness level when choosing the best training plan and the best exercises to be doing.

Beginners are often overly ambitious and take on strength training programs or running plans that are too aggressive or intended for athletes with a higher level of current fitness.

Be honest with your self-assessment and start with a beginner-friendly training plan if you are a beginner.

A physical therapist checking someone's knee.

#2: Prehab Is Better Than Rehab

For our marathon training plans, half marathon training plans, 10k training plans, and even 5k training plans, it is important to take care of your body in addition to doing all of the running workouts prescribed.

You should consider all the little things you can do to keep your body healthy while training. 

This includes measures such as warming up, cross-training, stretching after your runs, maintaining good running form, eating well, and getting enough sleep.

The same principles apply to our strength training guides, triathlon training plans, and workout routines.

Don’t just jump into an intense workout without warming up and preparing your body.

We offer several guides to dynamic warm-up exercises, foam rolling mobility exercises, cross-training options, and stretching guides for flexibility that you should incorporate into your workout routine.

Prevention is the cornerstone of injury-free running and injury-free working out.

A group of runners.

As runners and humans, we are often guilty of short-term bias, also known as “present bias.” This is the tendency for individuals to prioritize immediate rewards or concerns over long-term consequences or benefits. 

We are all guilty, but… sometimes you don’t have time to warm up, or squatting at the gym is boring.

Or, we have caught the running bug and just want to lace up our shoes and head out the door, even if our body hasn’t had time to adapt. 

Sometimes, we have to stop, take stock, and look at the bigger picture.

Investing time and effort in preventative measures reduces the likelihood of painful injuries and long, frustrating periods of being unable to work out or run. 

Proactive steps can improve performance, enjoyment, and longevity in running, strength training, triathlon training, or any other sports performance.

The motivation to prioritize injury prevention before an issue arises can be challenging, but there is clear evidence that these measures will positively impact your running. 

A trainer helping a client at the gym.

#3: Scientifically-Backed Training Techniques

Scientifically-backed training strategies often involve periodized running training programs and phased strength and conditioning programs alongside other components, such as mobility and stretching, plyometrics, and proprioception training. 

For the best results, you should do these with a fitness professional, at least until you have mastered the proper technique.

These methods are proven to aid exercise recovery and prevent future injuries by strengthening the bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissues to more easily handle loads of your body weight while running or the weight you are lifting in the gym for strength training workouts.

Resistance training exercises can also help identify and correct muscle imbalances, which is particularly important for runners and other endurance athletes to perform repetitive exercises. 

Therefore, it is not enough to just run if you are a runner training for a marathon or other race. 

Similarly, if you are a competitive weightlifter or a triathlete looking to take down big PRs, you need to have a balanced training program that incorporates other types of exercise to keep your body as robust and injury-resilient as possible.

A person meeting with a doctor.

#4: Don’t Ignore Pain

Muscle soreness is usually an inevitable part of high-intensity or high-volume training.

However, soreness or achiness is different from acute pain. Pain can be horrible, and heeding the warning signs of pain can help prevent injuries.

Sometimes, pain feels completely pointless—pain for the sake of pain—but many times, pain is sending us an important message, like “Don’t go for a run; it’s going to cause damage.” 

Treating or numbing pain with treatments involving NSAIDs, massage, ice packs, etc, while necessary for immediate relief, should not overshadow the importance of addressing the underlying issues. 

Focusing solely on pain relief without addressing the source can perpetuate the cycle of injury.

While it is important to address pain, the focus should shift toward understanding its root causes and implementing the preventative and rehabilitative measures discussed earlier. 

You should seek physical therapy or work with a physiatrist if you are having ongoing pain or warning signs of an injury before the problem escalates so that you can identify the root cause and treat the issue as soon as possible.

A person cycling.

#5: Variety Is Key

Many workout programs and training plans often are unbalanced or don’t provide adequate guidance for safe progression or exercise execution.

We value the importance of balancing rest and recovery with training and varying the intensity of exercises and training volume to prevent overtraining and maximize gains.

While it can be challenging to find enough time to perform a wide variety of types of exercise when juggling a busy life, it’s important to incorporate multiple types of exercise into your routine to reduce the risk of injuries and optimize your athletic performance.

This includes cardio exercise (and a variety of types and intensities), strength training, power training workouts, and flexibility.

To this end, competitive athletes often struggle to get themselves to take rest days, but it’s important to balance training with rest.

A trainer at the gym.

Summary

Our philosophy of fitness training for runners, everyday athletes, and weightlifters features a holistic approach that involves well-rounded workouts that address all aspects of health-related fitness and sports performance, scientifically-backed guidelines for appropriate training volume based on fitness goals and training levels, and a thoughtful approach to gradual progressive overload.

Another critical aspect of any workout program is performing all the exercises with proper form and technique.

At Marathon Handbook, we strive to provide detailed step-by-step instructions for how to do exercises, but if you’re unsure of the correct exercise form, work with a personal trainer or reach out to our Certified Personal Trainer, Amber Sayer, for guidance.

We try to add helpful form cues and modifications for beginners where possible, but you may need to seek personalized guidance based on your fitness level, injury history, or physical limitations.

Most importantly, it’s always key to listen to your body.

Even if your training plan recommends a workout, if you’re tired or feeling a niggle in your body, you should take a rest day or try a low-impact cross-training workout.

By prioritizing our body’s well-being and committing to injury prevention, runners can enjoy the sport with reduced risks and prolonged running careers.

Two people walking.

In the world of exercise training and fitness, reliable and safe information is paramount. 

Our commitment to verifying information from reputable sources, coupled with our team’s expertise, ensures that our workout guides and training plans are grounded in the latest scientific research and best practices.

We want you to achieve your fitness goals while minimizing the risk of injuries, overtraining, mental burnout, and frustration.

Therefore, in our exercise guides, we aim to find the most effective exercises and workouts while prioritizing health and safety.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that online advice can never replace professional fitness guidance from a qualified fitness practitioner such as a Physical Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Running Coach (or other sports coach), or Physiatrist. 

Fitness training needs are unique, and workouts and training programs should be tailored to individual needs.

We offer a lot of standalone exercise guides that provide instructions and sometimes even video demonstrations of exercises to help you learn the proper form and technique. You can find our top exercise guides and workout plans here.

Do not be afraid to reach out to the team at Marathon Handbook if you have any questions or concerns when trying one of our workouts. 

We want you to succeed while staying healthy and happy with your training.