Runner’s World July 2005
By Jeff Galloway
Q. Should every runner eventually do a marathon?
A. Completing a marathon can be a life-changing experience. Runners
who are ready for the challenge will find new strength during the
26.2-mile race and enjoy a unique sense of achievement. But those
who try to do one too early in their running career may end up injured,
burned out, and sour on the sport in general.
Most runners become successful marathoners only after gradually
increasing their racing goals - first completing a 5-K, then a 10-K,
then a 10-miler, and a half-marathon. This buildup ensures a gradual
adjustment to the training changes and challenges inherent in marathon
training. With every shorter race, you add to your running and racing
How do you know when you’re ready? Runners who meet the following
criteria can probably start planning for a marathon. Pick one at
least five months out to allow time for proper training. (1) You’ve
been running for more than six months. (2) You run at least three
times a week, every week. (3) You can run longer than 60 minutes
fairly easily. (4) You are willing to slow down and/or walk on long
runs, which will help you add to your distances.
If you’re ready for more information on marathon training
programs, see my book Marathon: You Can Do It! or go to my Web site
or to runnersworld.com.
The Excuse (And How To Beat It)
Runners Intimidate Me
I used this excuse myself the year I started running. Like many
beginners, I encountered a very opinionated runner who told me I
was doing just about everything wrong. I felt terribly inadequate
after the conversation. Had I not stuck with the sport, I would
have assumed all runners were negative and judgmental.
But by sticking with running, I soon learned that such know-it-alls
make up a tine percentage of the running community. Most runners
are supportive, and they welcome anyone into the sport. To find
this out for yourself, however, you have to go where the runners
are, whether it’s a local race, a club run, a running specialty
store, or your neighborhood park. Then, ignore the negative minority.
Seek out other beginners and together acquaint yourselves with the
local running scene.
Tips For Thos Who Go It Alone
"The more, the merrier," is a motto many runners live
by. That said, lots of runners go it alone. Get the most out of
each solo run with these strategies.
(1) Make a running appointment with yourself. Then honor that appointment
like any other commitment.
(2) Have a goal for each run. Aim to run a half-mile farther, or
vow to run until you say hello to at least seven people. Once you
have a plan for a run, you’ll be more likely to get out there
and get the job done.
(3) Mind your body. Running solo allows you to pay attention to
your body instead of conversing with partners. You can continually
adjust your effort.
(4) Keep - and read - a training log. Reviewing your training can
motivate you for your next run.
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