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Hi! My name’s Thomas and I created Marathon Handbook to help people run far.  

Have you ever said to yourself any of the following:

“I’d love to run a half marathon but don’t think I’m capable”

“What’s the best way to train for a marathon?”

“How can I get access to a running coach or running community easily?”

“Running race X is my dream but I’ve no idea how to get there”

You are not alone! Over the past 5 years, we’ve helped tens of thousands of people answer these types of questions and achieve their running goals!

By using this website, you can spend less time searching the Internet and being overwhelmed with information and more time doing the one thing you want to do: become a better runner.

After starting Marathon Handbook as a scrappy website to write about my adventures running multi-day stage races, it’s evolved and grown into a comprehensive resource for distance runners.

We’re now a small team of dedicated coaches and runners who love to write about running and help others on their running journey.

Our goal is to help other people run far – so whether you’re just buying your first pair of running shoes, looking for a marathon training plan, or looking to run your best 100-mile ultramarathon, we want to help you.

Meet The Marathon Handbook Team


Running is in my DNA.

Both of my parents competed in athletics in their youth and later went on to coach. After reluctantly toeing the line in a local cross-country race in my hometown of Derry and finishing 2nd, I enjoyed racing all over Ireland while at school and competed for an Irish Schools U17 team in Durham, England.

Sir Mo Farah also raced that day and could only finish 2nd!

There’s a race in Derry called the Killer Kilometre and it basically takes you up a 10% gradient from outside the local football stadium, via a number of Tour de France like hairpin turns, to finish at the top near the entrance of a local secondary school. Back in 2003, I’d been trying to get back into running after a few lean years.

As the race developed, I found myself in a group of 5 who were chasing down the early leader. I remember someone shouted my name as I took the last turn before the finishing straight, and I kicked for home only overtaking the man at the front metres from the finish. 

I’ve always wanted to run the Dublin marathon and I’m hoping that I can attempt it in the next couple of years. Let’s hope I can train through the extreme Madrid heat during the summer months as the marathon is normally held in early October.

Despite appreciating the new advances in watch technology with most runners using GPS devices, I still enjoy going for some of my recovery runs using my 10-year-old Casio sports watch. It helps me switch off and not worry about the pace and really embrace the feeling of running.


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Maria is our ultrarunning writer and heads up our our Instagramcheck it out for training tips, inspiration, and stories from our running community!

Maria In Her Own Words:

Three years ago, out of a need to balance out the uni lifestyle, I signed up for a marathon! I spent a good chunk of my training hours in Bristol’s neighbouring woodland, and I would listen to running audiobooks as I got lost on the trails. 

When I moved to Barcelona and then Sicily for a uni year abroad, I wanted to explore the local area- incredible coastlines, mountains, rugged terrain. With no driving license to my name, I would pack a rucksack with snacks and water and head out, run/walking into the hills. Days spent exercising out in nature became my favourite activity, I guess I was unintentionally ultra-training!

After many adventures, I realised that my body was capable of much more than I had previously thought. I became curious as to how far I could go and signed up for a 100k ultramarathon not long after.

I love the mental game of running far, how running makes me feel alive and connected to my body, its simplicity, and the mini-adventures that go hand in hand with long-distance running.

Most Memorable Race Experience:

My most memorable race experience has to be my ultramarathon, UK Ultra’s South Downs 100k- particularly the last 20k (here are my reflections of how that went!). I was overwhelmed with the fact that I was going to actually do the thing! 

Which Race Is On The Top of Your Bucket List?

Not quite a race, but one day I’m going to run the French Camino de Santiago, an 800km pilgrimage route across northern Spain. It’s been playing on my mind for a few years now and it’s only a matter of time before I get a plan together. Very exciting!

Favourite Gear / Gear Your Currently Running With

I’m not the biggest gear head but I very recently bought a running watch and it’s a bit of a game-changer. I have the Garmin Forerunner 245 and I’m very much enjoying taking a peek at what’s going on in my body.


whitney heins

Whitney Heins is a lifelong runner, founder of The Mother Runners, a VDOT-O2 certified running coach, 2:56 marathoner, freelance writer, a former award-winning TV news journalist…and most importantly, a mom of two beautiful, crazy kids. 

Whitney started running around the age of 6 with her runner dad who entered her into kids’ fun runs. She continued the habit into adulthood as running gives her clarity and energy to excel at the other things in her life, including being a mom.

Whitney founded The Mother Runners site, community, and coaching to empower fellow moms to move past the barriers of mom life to be their best selves.

whitney heins
whitney heins

Whitney’s most memorable race was her first marathon since becoming a mom. She placed second in her hometown of Knoxville, TN with her friends and family (including kids) cheering on her and her husband. This race led to her current bucket list goal of qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

No matter what has happened in her life, running has always been a wonderful outlet and faithful friend for Whitney. She hopes to inspire others, young and old, to also pursue their dreams (on and off the roads). 

Check out The Mother Runners and their Instagram for more from Whitney!

And Meet Thomas . . .

From Rookie Runner To Ultramarathons To Running Coach

I’d never been particularly interested in running growing up, but while at University I started running in the evenings to clear my head and get some exercise.

Gradually I became more interested in the field of distance running, and ran my first marathon in 2012 (here is a recap of how it went – it was a day in which I learned a lot of lessons) I’ve gone on to complete dozens more.   

Soon after that first marathon, I discovered the world of ultramarathons, multi-day stage races, and challenging the limits of how far I could run. I went on to run some epic races in Madagascar, Namibia, Cambodia, Gujarat, and many more!

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Around this time I started Marathon Handbook, from day one with the mission of helping other people run far.

I’d experienced the life-changing impact of distance running myself and decided I wanted to help others share in the same experience.

I became a UESCA-certified running coach, and have gone on to help and coach runners from all over the globe! Our training plans have now been used by tens of thousands of runners working on their running goals.

The truth is that the first iteration of the site was a scrappy little blog, with most of the advice being about how to prepare your bag for multi-day self-supported desert races (niche, I know)…

Over time, I began writing more about ultrarunning, then marathon running – and gradually we’ve expanded out from there, now covering everything from our own version of the Couch To 5k Training Plan (which we’re super proud of) and advice for runners of all levels to gritty ultrarunning tips.

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What You’ll Learn Here

If you ever wanted to learn how to run better, further, and faster – you’re in the right place.

Marathon Handbook was started to encourage people to run far – we want to guide you by the hand through the world of distance running.

We give you road-tested tips, articles, training plans, and material to get you out into the world and running!

On this website you will find:

  • Expert articles to help you on your distance running journey – whether you’re just starting or preparing for your next ultra!
  • In-depth guides on how to train, what gear you need, different training modalities, rest, recovery, cross training – every aspect of distance running.
  • Opinion pieces, editorials, and pragmatic advice on the art and challenges of running long distances.
  • Free, downloadable training plans for a huge variety of distances and ability levels – from your first 10k to first 100 miler!
  • Digital books and online courses bursting with valuable insights, video content, and explainers!
  • A community of dedicated distance runners with a wealth of experience and a variety of running background.

Everyday I wake up with one goal in mind: “How can I help other people run far?” 

The mission here is to produce the most comprehensive material you can find, better than any other website out there.

If and when we recommend a product or service, it’s because we really believe that’s the best thing for runners.

So come, read, learn, and don’t forget to send me your finish line photo! 🙂

What Others Say About Marathon Handbook

Thank you thank you THANK YOU!

a marathon runner lady hannah asfeldt with her medal


Just dropping in to say I had my full marathon this weekend!!

When we started running in downpouring rain! I crushed my first half and had a little bit of a slow down around mile 17. I cried at mile 20 and got a fantastic second wind at mile 23 and flew across the finish line.

My knees are still feeling a little hot and the outside of my right foot is in rough shape but, I can’t wait for my next race, I loved it so much!

Thank you thank you THANK YOU for supporting me throughout this training journey!! 

Hannah Asfeldt

Breaking the impossible!

a marathon runner drinking his drink

“Your lessons were really helpful . . . they greatly helped me to achieve what I thought was impossible.

I cannot describe the euphoria and satisfaction I felt days after running the marathon!”

Kuba Pikus
Marathon Handbook student

Can’t believe I’m a marathon runner…!

A lady standing on marathon finishing point

I prepared to the best of my ability, following the training plan and using the Marathon Handbook diet and gear guides.

My race was quite an experience . . . it was already pretty hot, and the weather became very humid.

I started with my heart pounding very heavily, gradually it slowed down. Up to half-way was ok, but after that my head started burning, feeling hot, legs started going . . . but then I reminded myself ok come on . . . you can do it!

hahahaahha! hurray yessss I did it, I made it, I made it… I could not express my feeling, how happy I was, I couldn’t believe myself!

After this I’m still surprised I can call myself a marathon runner!

Ratna Gomes
Dooars Run Safari Marathon