My running began prior to the run/walk phenomenon. Probably the most influencial book for me was "Galloway's book on running", printed in 1984. I had already gone beyond his recommended base before buying his book.
From my own experience, you should have a well defined aerobic conditioning in order to feel accomplished. Nothing wrong with walking for aerobic conditioning. But your time will reflect how many miles you have put into the effort. Nothing wrong with people running/walking the marathon— you pay your money; Do it the way you want the first time. I'm glad to see people trying to improve their health. If you like it and want to improve your time, you'll need to put in the miles.
I personally would prefer to see someone run a base for at least six month of 40-50 miles a week, and then add mileage up to 75-80 for about 20 weeks. I also would rather see someone on a 2 year plan rather than 16 weeks. But not everyone has the body to do this.
I agree with the old school and Galloway's older books. I think a person should exceed the marathon distance. in 1984 Galloway recommended a 26-30 mile run three weeks prior depending on your time goals. This gives you 4 run longer than 20. Many people do it without, but I think they are subject to being wobblers at the end.If you are competitive, and/or want to improve your time, you will want to do the miles.
What the newer concepts have brought is a minimum, where most people can finish without injury in 4.5-6 hours. But I personally believe if you don't put in the effort up front, you probably will pay for it later.
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