For most people, running a marathon ranks somewhere between winning the lottery and owning an island on the achievability scale. But don’t let the event’s difficult rep scare you.
photo courtesy of iStock/blublaf
Anyone can do it with the proper training, says James Velasquez, Ph.D., coordinator and professor of exercise and sports studies at D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y. Velasquez says one of the benefits of running a marathon is the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal after careful planning and preparation, both of which lead to an overall healthier you. “People who are physically fit usually have a higher self-esteem and better self-image,” he says. Thinking of going for the gold? Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you cross the finish line.
Velasquez’s Tips For Marathon Preparation
- Contact a physician to see if you’re in good enough health to compete.
- Gradually increase the intensity, distance, and time you train up to three weeks before the marathon. Make sure to give recovery time between runs to let your body adapt to the stresses of running. Inexperienced runners should seek out another runner or personal trainer to assist in designing a training regimen.
- Develop a plan and set a realistic goal. People run marathons for different reasons and expectations. Whatever your goals are – to win, to finish, to finish in a certain amount of time – make sure you stick to your plan. Many people don’t realize how much time, effort, and sacrifice is required. By having a plan, you can schedule your training around work, family, and other commitments, and gauge your progress.
- Incorporate cross training. Combining different training techniques to your weekly regimen maximizes your training, reducing the risk of injury and helping prevent boredom. Try swimming or biking, which should begin during the middle or later part of the training regimen, and continue intermittently.
Races to Look for, According to MarathonGuide.com
September 6, 2009
This race is sponsored by the Tupelo Running Club, a non-profit organization that promotes healthy living through running and walking. Runners love the event for its small field and open course.
Pikes Peak Road Runners American Discovery Trail Marathon
September 7, 2009
Colorado Springs, Colo.
This trail offers a run with a view — a gradually-dropping altitude of the Pikes Peak region starting around 7,200 feet and ending around 6,000 feet.
Quad Cities Marathon
September 27, 2009
This course, certified by USA Track & Field, unfolds over four cities and two states, running along the Mississippi River. This year, everyone who competes the race wins a “best finisher” medal.
Bellingham Bay Marathon
September 27, 2009
Considered by runners one of the most scenic marathons in the Pacific Northwest, this track winds along the Washington coast. Proceeds benefit non-profits such as the Bellingham Bay Swim Team and the WFC Rangers soccer club.