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Getting Started

You've decided to run a marathon. Excellent! Your body will thank you, if you train properly and run intelligently. Here are some tips from a one-time marathoner and an only occasional runner.


It all starts with your shoes. If you're really really serious about this, don't waste your time: go to a real running store - not a chain - and ask if anyone's run a marathon. Most running stores have guys or women who've done so. Find them. Trust them. The shoe salesman will find a shoe that fits you well. He or she will recommend socks. LISTEN TO YOUR SALESMAN. Your feet will swell by 1/2 size during a marathon. Sizing your shoe is very important. Also important is the amount of cushion you need. Heavy runners such as myself require a lot of shock support in the heel. Inside almost every running shoe is a last - a removable piece that goes right underneath your sole, that adds a great deal of shock. Heavy runners will add some sorbothane heel pieces underneath the last so that we can get even more shock absorption. If your feet pronate, specially designed running shoes correct for that.

Your running shorts should be nice and lightweight. Avoid the running shorts with the seams between your thighs. This is an area which normally chafes after you begin doing runs half an hour or longer. If your shorts have seams where your thighs rub together, the chafes will get very bad. So buy smart, and let a runner help select shorts for you. A small pocket is nice to hold your house key.

Running tops are less important. The most comfortable ones are made of Coolmax, or some synthetic material that wicks away water when you sweat, and you will in those summer months. Boy will you sweat. I've seen running tops made for men that must have been designed by aliens, because they have seams running across the nipple line. ARE THEY INSANE? These people should be taken out and shot, or better yet, forced to run a marathon in their own tops. Nipples will chafe after a nice ten miler, and I can't even imagine how this would feel with a designer seam there. Oochie mamma.

A stopwatch will be required for the first few months of your workouts. I like the Timex Ironman wristwatch. Get something simple with easy to press buttons for START and STOP. The Ironman has many variants. The high end ones, ostensibly for marathoners, are so confusing to use and have such poorly designed user interfaces that they're totally worthless. The low-end ones are the easiest to use.

You'll need an alarm clock that rings like a motherfucker to get your fat ass out of bed every morning. My fat ass can easily get other parts of the body to turn off the alarm clock, but I have to admit that when the alarm clock first makes its telltale click, announcing to the world that one second later it's going to ring like a firehouse bell, some FLASH PRIORITY INTERRUPT goes right from my ears to all of my muscles, bypassing the brain entirely, and all of its dreamstate machinations, and it causes the body to leap straight out of bed, hover there for a second, twist like a cat in midair, and SLAM that alarm clock bell down before it makes the Big Sound. I then try to restore my state of slumber, but it's no use; the damage has been done, and I'm now fully awake. Actually, I am beyond fully awake. I am in some hyperconscious state, like a patient dosed with two big syringes of adrenaline. Now I have no choice but to get out and run. This, of course, is what you want in an alarm clock. Something big, something brutish, something that makes such a horrendous noise that your neighbors will complain.

Running Schedule

If you've never run a marathon before, or you've never run a 10K (6.2 miles) before, start easy.

The first day, do zero (0) minutes.

The second day, run for one (1) minute.

The third day, run for two (2) minutes.

You get the picture. Every day add a minute to your running time. Don't run for distance, run for time. The distance will add up eventually.

You can run as slow as you want. Just run. You will begin enjoying running if you just get out there into the elements and begin your training regimen.

Your running schedule will evolve over time. Some time in the next month or two I'll write something on making a mid-course correction to your running schedule. But for right now, until you run about a half an hour to an hour every day, follow this plan: Run every day, and add a minute to yesterday's run time.

Early Morning Routine

Let's face it: 5:00 a.m. is pretty early. Soldiers call this time Oh-dark-hundred. It's somewhere between night and morning, but it's closer to night.

If you're like me, you like to sleep in. When you do wake up, you're confused, you have bed head, you smell bad, and you want someone to shoot you. No, don't do that. Instead, make the morning routine as uncomplicated as possible. Have your running gear laid out right next to your bed, fireman style. When that darned alarm clock wakes up, you leap out of bed, heart-a-pounding, jump into your clothes, and out you go. The sooner you leave, the sooner you can get into that shower. It's all about rewarding yourself.

Happy trails!


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