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Is a marathon really 26.2 miles?

19 Mar

I’ve been jogging off and on for exercise for the past decade. My regular daily running habit began in the spring of 2004 when we adopted a six-month-old Border Collie who we named Buddy. This black and white dog has been my running motivation and inspiration for the last seven years. (Isn’t he handsome, dignified and almost regal-looking in this picture taken last fall.)

 Together, Buddy and I have jogged more than 5,000 miles. We both love it (except on cold dark mornings in December, January and February). And yet, even with ice and snow, or rain and sleet, we somehow manage to get out six days per week and jog for 30 minutes. Our pace isn’t impressive: about 2.5 miles per day or about a 12-minute mile. On days when I don’t really feel like going and want to blog, email, Facebook or reconcile my finances instead, Buddy kind of hangs around me and any time I shift positions, he thinks that maybe that means I’m getting ready to get on my jogging suit (which is black and white to match the dog — coincidentally) and grab the leash for our next jogging excursion. He’s not push or obnoxious, he just subtly lets me know that it would mean a great deal to him if we went out jogging together. And those kind and hopeful brown eyes really get the to me. So we’re pretty consistent.

However, while our leisurely daily jogs are nice, I’ve decided that it’s time for a stretch fitness goal; one that will really push me to the limit; one that will give me a chance to cross something off of my bucket list. A full marathon. Not a 5K, a 10K or even a half marathon. I’ve decided that I may as well go for the whole thing.

I started training in January and did four “long runs,” but for the past few weeks, I’ve stopped doing the long runs and focused on losing weight that will slow me down. That fat loss required some serious calorie restriction, so I haven’t had the energy to go on long runs. I’ve lost 25 pounds since January 1, reduced my gut size by 7 inches and lowered my body fat from 25.6% to 19.6%. I’m now ready to resume my marathon training in earnest. Yesterday, I committed myself financially by paying my entry fee to the Utah Valley Marathon on Saturday, June 11, 2011.

There’s a great video on the marathon at http://www.utahvalleymarathon.com/

I chose this particular course because it’s mostly downhill, but not too steep (from Wallsburg past Deer Creek Reservoir down Provo Canyon and ending in downtown Provo). So it’s a relatively easy marathon at a great time of the year. The race is 12 weeks from today. My goal is to finish, and do it under five hours. Sure, it’s not a particularly lofty time goal, but I’m starting to realize that just finishing is going to be pretty hard.

A few weeks ago, I ran 7.5 miles. It was hard and I was pretty sore afterwards. A marathon is more than three times that amount: 26.2 miles. I believe the name comes from Greek history in which a messenger ran 26.2 miles to deliver a message to Athens during the Battle of Marathon. According to the story I heard, the messenger ran that long distance, delivered the important information and then he keeled over and died. I hope that won’t be the case for me. I’m certain that the way to avoid injury and death is to do the proper training and nutrition. I’ve also been told I need the right shoes (which are not going to be cheap.)

So if any of you long-distance runners have any advice for me as a novice, please feel free to share.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2011 in Health

 

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