Running a marathon is one for the bucket list, but go about it wisely
So you wanna run a marathon … and why not? It’s perhaps one of the best ways to set fitness goals, since you’re usually working against a target date. It’s also an athletic achievement by which many others are judged.
But what, exactly, does training for a 26.2-mile race entail? Well, it’s more than just about running a whole lot.
Timothy Rupp is a veteran marathoner who graduated to the triathlon circuit. As an emergency room doctor at a local hospital, Rupp is versed in how to get your body in the right condition before venturing on those two dozen … or heck, even that much more achievable 5K.
Rupp answers those FAQs the novice runner may have and throws in some of his own tips to make sure you are in tip-top shape before pounding that pavement.
Where to start
Rupp points out that for the beginner, regardless of experience, scheduling is crucial. Once that becomes set, the rest will follow. Plus, don’t get too set on busting out a marathon right away. There are shorter options to be just as proud of.
“It’s a good idea to pick an event six to 12 months out,” he says. “One could download a training schedule from the web or sign up with a place like Luke’s Locker, Run On or the Dallas
Running Club. They would likely lay out a training plan, albeit a somewhat generic one. But that’s a start, and know that part of the training would include running shorter distances.” In addition to full marathons, there are 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, half-marathons “and even trail runs for nature lovers.” (To clarify, 5 kilometers equal 3.1 miles; a half-marathon is 13.1 miles.)
Talk to the foot
Just because you have a slamming pair of Nikes, don’t assume those are the best shoes for you. Or if you’re frugal, consider hard the importance of new shoes for your running endeavor.
Rupp is emphatic about proper shoes ensuring a healthy foot.
“Invest in quality running shoes,” he says. “Your old shoes? Hell, no! Luke’s and Run On will do a video gait analysis to determine your stride and match them up with a quality shoe.”
This is especially important for the flat-footed. Rupp notes that the wrong shoe will challenge your foot in all the wrong ways. A visit to a podiatrist may even be advisable, especially if he has a sports medicine background, to see if orthotic inserts are necessary.
Food for thought
With all that running, food shouldn’t be a problem because any and all of those calories will be burned off quickly, right? Yes and no.
“It is safe to say the increased caloric burn and increased metabolism will allow you to eat with some amnesty, but certainly not carte blanche to have burgers, fries and ice cream 24/7/365. Be smart,” Rupp says.
Running will be the majority of training, but Rupp says not to forget cross-, core- and weight-training for a complete body workout and to build up endurance … not to mention that extra muscles never hurt a tight shirt.
As with any new exercise regimen, consider your other health issues. The age-old advice of speaking to your doctor applies. And Rupp recommends a personal trainer for additional guidance. But in general, marathoning provides substantial health benefits.
“In general, training will help problems like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and heart problems, but people don’t realize physical fitness [also] helps brain activity, sex drive and other routine homeostatic functions of the body,” Rupp says.
Regardless of fitness level, competitive spirit might kick in at the wrong time. Just because you want to show up the jogger next to you doesn’t mean you should.
“It is possible to start pushing yourself in relation to those around the track or the gym. But trying to one-up someone on Day 1 … well, that’s just a no-no. And you’ll likely just hurt yourself,” he says.
But if it’s Rupp you start showing off against, he at least can take care of you at the emergency room. And that won’t be embarrassing at all.
— Rich Lopez
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 15, 2013.