How can you determine if you are ready to start training for the marathon? Marathoning is not for the beginning runner. You should have been running for at least 6 months and be running over 20 miles per week if you want to run a marathon 6 months from now. If you already have a good mileage base or have run previous marathons, then you're definitely ready to begin a training program designed to help you reach your top performance.
You should already have a good level of fitness and have consulted with your physician concerning any medical problems. The training programs described in this book are conservative with emphasis on injury prevention and adequate rest.
We heartily concur with the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children before puberty should not run the marathon. We've seen too many children suffer psychological burnout and physical problems to feel otherwise.
There is no difference in marathon training between men and women except when women are pregnant. Fitness running (30 minutes, 3 times/week) has been shown to be beneficial for pregnant women; more exercise than this may be harmful to the baby.
Are there special considerations for the older runner? We are both in our 50's and feel we have a long years of competitive running ahead of us. Clive Davies, a friend and this book's illustrator, and still set age groups records at the marathon and lesser distances going into his 70s. Studies of middle aged marathoners showed that they compared favorably with runners in their 20's in high aerobic capacity, high efficiency of energy, low percentage of body fat and ability to exercise at a high percentage of their aerobic capacity. When this book was written in 1986 the current world best for the marathon was held by Carlos Lopes at age 38. However, as you get older, you may find that you need more time to recover. You may have to run fewer miles and run those miles at a slower pace. Supplemental and cross training may also be more important.
The first step in any program is to define goals. The term goals is used in the plural sense because a series of goals should be set: long, medium and short range. A long range goal may be to finish your first marathon, or to improve your time from a previous marathon best. Shorter term goals may include running several 20 mile training runs and increasing your weekly training mileage.
The value of goals results from the fact that the higher standards you set for yourself, the higher your attainment. The setting of performance goals does not in itself produce achievement. The motivational effect of goal setting most likely results from self- reinforcement. After the goal has been set, self-approval is based on reaching that goal which makes you work harder to keep from disappointing yourself. Once goal performance has been achieved, you are no longer content and then make self reward contingent on progressively more difficult accomplishments. Motivation then results from seeking out and conquering challenges and achieving goals which are optimal for you, neither too difficult nor too easy.
The setting of goals must be accompanied by commitment. In life, to excel you must use your abilities to the fullest capacity. To excel in the marathon, you must be physically and psychologically fit. You must believe in your own capabilities and fully commit yourself to their fullest development. Commitment is a major key to the psychological attributes necessary for excellence. Peak performance comes from assuming active responsibility for your own success. We can show you the necessary tools, but you must use them. The level of your commitment to the marathon is your choice.
Volition or willpower is the core of the self. Willpower decides what is to be done, applies the means to do the task and persists in the task in the face of all obstacles. Learn to identify volition by identifying your personal needs and the experiences that strengthen you. Volition affects mental performance, thoughts, feelings and physical parameters such as strength, responsiveness and the desire to succeed.
A part of commitment is "mission" or your personal reasons for pursuing a particular goal. While your goal may be to finish, your mission may be to be in command of your body and push it to its limits.
One way to help achieve a day to day level of commitment is to formulate a plan and keep track of your progress. Start now by writing down your long range goal (i.e. running the marathon in some time). In the following chapters we'll show you what medium range goals (training milestones) will support this. If you follow the points set out here, you will be able to devise a week by week, day by day training plan. This technique will yield a systematic approach to achieving your long term goal via a series of small and achievable steps leading from where you are now to to where you want to go. Each step can be used to assess progress toward the long term goal.
Run The Planet thanks Patti & Warren Finke and Team Oregon for the permission to reprint the complete online version of the first edition of the book Marathoning Start to Finish (Hypertext Version 1.02) by Patti & Warren Finke. © 1986, 1996 wY'east Consulting, All Rights reserved.