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The Science of the Marathon and the Art of Variable Pace Running

This book was written by Veronique Billat, Ph.D. (University of Paris-Saclay) and Johnathan Edwards, M.D. (University of Paris-Saclay).


The Science of the Marathon and the Art of Variable Pace Running encourages you to rediscover running by gradually slowing down, running at your own pace, and learning to accelerate. In fact, it will take no longer than 30 – 40 minutes per session and 2 to 3 sessions per week. Integrating this type of training into your home or workplace is easy. This training method is equally applicable to other endurance sports like cycling, swimming, rowing, and cross-country skiing. We invite you to discover this new way of running as it is a realistic minimalist-based training using your running mind-body feelings sensations and your lifestyle.

The Authors

Véronique Billat decided to embark on a journey searching for the optimal training program for health and performance. At that time, she was a runner and international cross-country skier and trained in quantities that were often counterproductive. After completing a Doctorate in Exercise Physiology, she was able to attain a high fitness level and strike a balance between her coaching and scientific activities. The inspiration for her works (over 150 international publications and eight books) came from listening to her runners and paying attention to the fundamental problems. In addition to her activities as a university professor, she founded the www.BillaTraining.com company to self-finance her applied research by developing training algorithms for human and animal energetics. This research takes place in real life and extreme racing situations; it does not take place on treadmills, rather in marathon races and the high mountains. It’s about adapting new technologies to the needs of training and not using and analyzing them without understanding the stakes and possibilities for the improvement of human energy. Let us finally realize that human energy is the energy that increases the more we use it. It is the magical effect of running that tells us that we are alive and that we can start and progress at any age!

Johnathan Edwards is accomplished in many aspects of life. Following a brief professional motocross career, he went on to study at the University of California at Davis majoring in Physiology. After completing his medical degree in Norfolk, Virginia, he completed a year of medicine abroad in France, changing his life as he knew it. He became fluent in French and its culture. Today he lives part time in the South of France and is involved with many French organizations such as the Dakar Rally, the Ag2R La Mondial professional cycling team, the Four Days of Dunkerque professional cycling race, and the Ronde Des Sables professional motorcycle race, in Dunkerque, France. He is an accomplished cyclist and runner and is passionate about how physiology affects the human body’s function and longevity. Working closely with Dr. Billat, he has mastered the BillaTraining.com methods for running. Dr. Edwards and Dr. Billat met because of a simple email written in French. She was intrigued that an American would write in French, and they started corresponding about sports training and nutrition. After a meeting in Paris, he enrolled in her Ph.D. program at the University of Paris. Later, she asked if he would collaborate in writing a book about running in English, and the result is The Science of the Marathon and the Art of Variable Pace Running.

The Science of the Marathon and the Art of Variable Pace Running is about Veronique Billat’s life studies and is the result of 30 years of research and practical experience. After reaching the limits of classical training for running (which is still taught in schools 30 years later), Dr. Billat decided to train in the distant hills and mountains, based upon using her sensations and abandoning the never-ending 15 sets of 200-m or four sets of 1000-m at race pace. Discovering success in her first road (Marvejols-Mende) and cross-country (Sierre-Zinal) races, she never looked back and has dedicated her life to this way of variable paced running and living.

The key to long term success without injury or overtraining is to train with quality and not quantity. This is why Dr. Billat adopted a minimalist training approach. And above all, she increased her power reserves, giving her a margin of security in very long-distance races. It is no longer necessary to train by running long distances in preparation for specific types of running races. Performance is not just about a result, but rather a road to true happiness. The practice of marathon running is, above all, a serious endeavor for anyone 10 to 100 years old, that will let you dream immense possibilities.