Marathon and half marath.., p.1

Marathon and Half-Marathon, page 1


Marathon and Half-Marathon

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Marathon and Half-Marathon










  Douglas &Mclntyre Publishing Group


  Copyright © 2006 Sport Medicine Council of British Columbia and Marnie Caron

  06 07 08 09 10 5 4 3 2 1

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a license from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For a copyright license, visit or call toll free to 1-800-893-5777.

  Greystone Books

  A division of Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.

  2323 Quebec Street, Suite 201

  Vancouver, British Columbia

  Canada V5T 4S7

  Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

  Caron, Marnie

  Marathon and half marathon : the beginner’s guide / Marnie Caron and the Sport Medicine Council of British Columbia ; foreword by Jack Taunton.

  Includes index.

  ISBN-13: 978-1-55365-158-1

  ISBN-10: 1-55365-158-8

  ISBN-ebook: 978-1-926685-29-8

  1. Marathon running--Training. I. Sport Medicine Council of B.C. II. Title.

  GV1065.17.T73C37 2006 796.42'52 C2005-906669-5

  Library of Congress information is available upon request

  Editing by Jill Lambert

  Cover design by Jessica Sullivan

  Text design by Warren Clark

  Cover photograph by Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

  Printed and bound in Canada by Friesens

  Printed on acid-free paper that is forest friendly

  (100% post-consumer recycled paper) and has been processed chlorine free.

  Distributed in the U.S. by Publishers Group West

  We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) for our publishing activities.


  To my running companions,

  and to Brad: thank you for

  your generosity of spirit and

  for sharing in the belief that

  all things are possible.




  1 The Mystique of the Marathon

  2 Getting Started

  3 What’s Involved?

  4 Coaching Advice and the Programs

  5 Fueling the Athlete

  6 The Mental Side of the Marathon

  7 You’re a Runner!

  8 Including the Family

  9 Pitfalls and Potential Problems

  10 Final Preparations

  11 After the Finish Line

  Appendix A: Stretching Exercises

  Appendix B: PAR-Q and You

  Appendix C: Zero to Marathon or Half Marathon in 26 Weeks



  I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the many friends and members of the running community and sport medicine practitioners who provided direction, support, and inspiration, with special thanks to: Dr. Bryan Barootes, Lynda Cannell, Dr. Liz Joy, Lynn Kanuka, Rita King, Jill Lambert, Thom Lutes, Phil Moore, Dallas Parsons, Dr. Nicky Peterson, Dr. Trent Smith, Dr. Jack Taunton, and Dr. Whitney Sedgwick.


  RUNNING A HALF OR FULL MARATHON IS WITHIN MOST people’s reach, as long as they train correctly. Going the distance takes commitment and patience, and it requires a good training program accompanied by sound advice. Marathon and Half Marathon: The Beginner’s Guide will pilot a sedentary person from inactivity through to finishing a half marathon or full marathon in 26 weeks. It will also help those who have had a bit more experience and are looking for new challenges beyond the 10-kilometer distance.

  The Sport Medicine Council of British Columbia clearly understands the unique needs of the beginning runner. Using the principles developed by physicians at the Allan McGavin Sport Medicine Centre at the University of British Columbia, SportMedBC created programs and clinics to teach new runners and walkers how to train safely and effectively for a 10-kilometer event. Ten years and three editions later, The Beginning Runner’s Handbook is still on best-seller lists, and tens of thousands of people have benefited from training clinics or have used the programs to train on their own. I am pleased that in response to many requests, SportMedBC’s Beginner’s Guide series has evolved to include training for half and full marathons.

  The success of the Beginner’s Guide series is founded primarily on its training programs. A panel of distance-running experts, including Olympians, coaches, and running-clinic leaders, has developed sound training and coaching advice. Combined with injury-prevention tips from sport medicine specialists and nutrition advice from sport dietitians, the step-by-step plan laid out in this book is a road map for successfully completing your first half or full marathon.

  As a sport medicine physician, I highly recommend SportMedBC’s approach to training. The walk/run method is a safe and easy way for your body to adjust to the demands of running or jogging longer distances.

  Armed with this book, all you need to add is a desire to go the distance, willingness to follow the advice and tips, and a commitment to consistently stay with the prescribed training.

  Along the way, of course, the multiple benefits that will accrue from following the book’s principles are their own reward, whether or not you ever decide to run in an organized marathon event. But once you’re achieving your goals on a daily or weekly basis, you’ll probably find running a half or full marathon irresistible. Good luck with your training, and stick with it.

  Jack Taunton, MD

  Allan McGavin Sport Medicine Centre

  University of British Columbia



  The Mystique of the Marathon

  YOU’RE DRIVING TO WORK, AND YOU WATCH FROM THE comfort of your car as the early morning light faintly illuminates three sinewy subjects. Little else is clear. One locks a bike to a tree, and two others emerge from their cars, each moving from different points toward a fountain, a meeting place for the ritual morning run. As the three women approach, their smiling faces shed light on much, much more about their characters.

  Some people feel best moving in a car or a train, others while riding a bike, and a special few find their joy in running. They are a rare breed, the runners who, with the grace of gazelles, win races, medals, and accolades. These whippet-like creatures are perfectly relaxed, while perfectly active.

  We’re not all gazelles, and many of us won’t win races. Running—especially distance running—for most of us is not something that is seamless. It is a mountain of hard work that takes patience, love, and, most of all, perseverance.

  You’ve never done a lot of running, or walking, for that matter, or perhaps it’s been a long time since you did. Either way, you’re finding yourself noticing runners out on the roads at all times of the day and night. You have a nagging question for yourself: “Am I crazy, or could I actually consider trying to be one of these people? Do I dare ask how or even consider the possibility of training for a half or a full marathon?”

  At one time
, completing a marathon was considered to be an almost Herculean endeavor. Today, many of us know someone who has completed a marathon, but training to run a half or full marathon continues to be an extraordinary achievement. Whether it is your sister-in-law who ran 26.2 miles (42.1 kilometers) in 3:30 hours to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon or your colleague who crossed the finish line in 5 hours with excitement lighting his face, it is an amazing accomplishment.

  With an effective program, training for and completing a distance event like the marathon in a safe and healthy manner could be a reality for you. The journey is not only a great way to improve your health and fitness but also will be an experience you will never regret.

  Common Questions

  What is the length of each event?

  The marathon is 26.2 miles, or 42.1 kilometers. The half marathon is half that distance at 13.1 miles, or 21.05 kilometers.

  Why choose distance running?

  Ask runners why they run and the most common reason cited is the simplicity of the activity. You can do it almost anywhere and at any time. It’s also one of the least expensive sports around. Once you find a good pair of running shoes, you’re basically done. Unlike running, the cost of golf, skiing, or tennis is a continuum of green fees, lift tickets, and court rentals. Also, distance running is a sport that can teach you a lot about yourself, show you your limitations, and give you the opportunity to overcome them. Distance running requires commitment, determination, desire, hard work, and a sense of self-worth. Consider how many other areas in your life would benefit from your having these attributes.

  What exactly is a marathon?

  A marathon is a running race over a distance officially set at 26.2 miles. It has an interesting history that dates back to 490 BC. According to Greek legend, a soldier ran to Athens from a battlefield near Marathon, Greece, to deliver the news of a Greek victory over the Persians. According to history books, he then collapsed and died of exhaustion. The story is fictionalized to some degree, but it inspired one of the world’s greatest and most prestigious sporting events: the marathon. The race remained obscure until the running boom of the late 1970s to early ’80s, when “fun runs” became increasingly popular.

  Why the half marathon?

  The half marathon is quickly becoming a popular event for distance runners around the world. Once thought of as merely a stepping-stone en route to the marathon, it is now a significant event in and of itself. According to a 2002 issue of Runner’s World magazine, race organizers across North America are seeing an increasing switch to the half marathon by runners who have previously completed marathons. Now, for various reasons, they don’t want to commit the time and effort required for the marathon, but they still want to challenge themselves to a distance event. The growing popularity of the half marathon can also be attributed to the huge increase in the numbers of walk/runners, people who intersperse running with walking. As well, a large number of walkers, commonly also referred to as striders, are participating in half marathons.

  Running for pleasure

  The health benefits of running are far reaching. Aerobic exercise improves your:

  • Heart rate

  • Cardiovascular system

  • Muscle tone

  • Weight control

  • Circulation

  • Sleep patterns

  What about walking?

  Walkers are just like runners in their quest to improve health and fitness by setting their minds on the goal of completing a half marathon. Walkers are not excluded from participating in marathons, although time demands for completing the event can be off-putting. Walkers usually take at least 7 hours to complete 26.2 miles. Most marathon courses are only open for approximately 7 hours. Consequently, walkers do not receive adequate support in the final hours of the event, when they need it the most. Without aid stations, volunteers directing and managing traffic, road closures, and little or no finish-line celebration, walking a marathon route can be dangerous and less enjoyable. Not to mention that even the fittest individual would find 7-plus hours of continuous exercise incredibly demanding. In contrast, the half marathon is more approachable, taking about 4 hours or less to complete.

  So who can do a half or full marathon?

  Most people with proper training can successfully walk/run 13.1 or 26.2 miles. But first you might want to consider what your goals are and what they are likely to become in the future. Very few people in their first couple of years of running run a marathon without encountering some sort of injury. Second, before you start a training program for a half or full marathon, remember that it’s your health and your body we’re talking about. You want to be sure that you are physically and mentally up for the challenge. The following few chapters provide you with information that will help you in establishing your distance-running goals.

  I’m still interested. What else do I need to think about?

  1. Can I make the commitment?

  It takes a huge amount of time to prepare properly. In this book we suggest 26 weeks to prepare for either the full or half marathon, with three workout sessions per week, one of which may eventually require several hours to complete.

  2. Will I have support?

  This kind of commitment is without doubt a lifestyle change, and those people important in your life will be part of it and affected by it.

  3. Do I have limiting health concerns?

  If you have, or have had, any injuries or illnesses that may interfere with your program, you need to be realistic and honest with yourself now to avoid disappointment. Check with a sport medicine physician and explain your health care concerns before establishing your distance-running goals. It may be, for example, that you need a longer buildup to a half marathon than we recommend in the 26-week program, or possibly you should first work toward a 5- or 10-kilometer (3.1- or 6.2- mile) event.



  Marty is a 45 -year-old, single career woman who loves every kind of sport. An athletic girl from an early age, her first passion was softball. She was perfect for the sport, strong and agile, with great hand-eye coordination. Marty played varsity softball for a division 1 school in California and later played for the United States’ National team. But after dislocating her shoulder and suffering ongoing wrist problems from years as a catcher, she decided to end her softball career. Initially, Marty kept busy with work and friends, but over the years she found herself increasingly withdrawn, choosing to spend most of her free time alone. She started to wonder if she was in more than just a funk. After sharing her concerns with a close friend, she realized that a key difference in her life was an almost complete lack of fitness. Besides the occasional walk, she was pretty sedentary, and since her softball days she hadn’t experienced that post-exercise high that she loved so much. Fitness had always been a huge part of her life, so it’s not surprising that she didn’t feel like herself without it.

  Marty’s friend encouraged her to take up running. Marty agreed, and she was hooked almost instantly. Before long she found herself signing up for a half-marathon training clinic. She definitely wanted to do a full marathon one day, but given that she was new to running, she felt a slow and gradual approach was best. The clinic was close to Marty’s home and she really liked her assigned training group. Unfortunately, in her second month of training she caught a terrible cold that forced her to miss 2 weeks of training. When she returned, she found the pace of her training group to be too challenging. Initially, she was discouraged and questioned her desire to train and to run a half marathon. She liked running, but she wondered if she would be happier just scrapping the half-marathon goal and running on her own. Ultimately, she chose not to make a snap decision and instead opted to train with a slower group for a week, after which time she would make a decision about the marathon. After only a couple of training sessions with her new group, Marty was more committed than ever to her half-marathon goal. In her time away while ill, she had forgotten how much she lov
ed the comradery of sharing a common goal and a passion for her newfound sport.

  4. Am I prepared to take care of myself?

  You are embarking on a very demanding exercise program, and you’ll need to ensure all aspects of your life stay on a healthy track; everything from nutrition to hydration and good sleeping patterns plays a part in a sound training program.

  5. Am I mentally strong enough to physically make this happen?

  The psychological barriers of the distance-running journey can be the greatest obstacles to overcome. But if you are up for the challenge, and persevere through the mental challenges of a 26-week walk/run program, you will be stronger, wiser, and know yourself a little bit better than before you started the journey.

  The benefits of marathon running

  • Improved health

  • Increased energy

  • Improved self-esteem

  • Time with friends

  • Quality time outdoors

  • Stress relief

  • Weight control

  • Character building


  Getting Started

  “GO BIG OR GO HOME!” “THE MARATHON IS TO RUNNERS what Everest is to climbers!” These are just a couple of the images or comparisons that come to mind when deciding between the goal of a half or full marathon. The marathon is, without question, the granddaddy of running races. It is an achievement that bestows serious bragging rights over the water cooler at work. But you have to ask yourself if this single reason—permission to boast—is enough to motivate you through 26 weeks of relentless training. This is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although blisters, chafing, and fatigue are all elements of half- and full-marathon training, the demands are significantly different.

  A Safe and Effective Approach to Distance Running

  From couch potato to 26.2 or 13.1 miles (42 or 21 kilometers) in 26 weeks. Sport medicine experts strongly suggest that people complete at least a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race and be running regularly for at least 6 to 12 months before considering a half marathon, and 12 months is the recommended time frame for a full-marathon goal. The body (muscles, bones, and ligaments) needs time to adapt to the stresses of running 26.2 miles. Many of you, however, probably have a friend, colleague, or family member who was a non-runner and who after only a few short months of training crossed the marathon or half-marathon finish line.

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