Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

Remember the back of the comic book promises? Just three short weeks to a new body, to luxurious hair, to rescue from the 98 pound weakling status? Well, in 18 weeks you can be a marathon runner. And this without box tops, selling magazines, or even mailing in the magazine cover with $5.98 plus postage. I’m serious. This is not about snake oil, fast twitch muscle replacement, nor serious steroids. You’ve missed a super opportunity in the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon, the but there is still time to train for and compete in (or complete in) the inaugural Leading Ladies’ Marathon on August 14th or the venerable Mount Rushmore Marathon in October.

If you are in reasonable shape now, that is, able to run at least three miles without stopping at least three days a week, you can begin the schedule following. This is minimal training, and not about winning the race or maybe not even your age group; but it is about finishing a marathon and living to tell the story. Interested? Read on.

First of all, why? Well, because it’s there, for one thing, and for two…the act of committing to, training for, and completing the marathon distance unleashes a power and personal strength that looks good on anybody’s resume’, and feels good to anybody’s psyche. The training alone develops solidarity within a group and new appreciation of oneself. Pretty hard to be down when you’ve just completed an 18 mile run, and it only gets better. So swiftly, slowly, walking, running; consider establishing the goal of owning the big M.

First, choose a race. There are these things to consider:
1. Size. The larger the event, the more fun stuff going on. More contestants, more excitement, and less opportunity to finish last. (Shouldn’t matter, but it kinda does).
2. Course. City courses have more crowd support, and the screaming fans are incredibly energizing. Vanity wins over fatigue most of the time. Country courses are beautiful, peaceful; have whole different personality.
3. Hills and altitude. If you live at a higher elevation, no biggie. But flatlanders who come to the Black Hills notice the lack of oxygen; and I love to run at sea level for the same reason. If you are going to a higher altitude, make it 2 weeks prior to the marathon, or just 48 hours.
4. Average temperature. Hot and humid make a big difference. You will feel 20 degrees warmer than the recorded temperature when you’re running.

Check out runnersworld.com, marathonguide.com, or allsportcentral.com for races and places, there are others, but these are great sources for marathon shopping. Pick a place you want to visit, a time you can go, and you’ll likely find a marathon to fit your needs.

So if you’re running comfortably for 30 minutes three or four times a week, you can begin serious training. It’s good to pick a race 5 months out leaving a few extra weeks in the plan to allow for set-backs. If you develop a cold or some other emergency interferes with your training, you have time to regroup and still comfortably train. Don’t “cram”, if you miss a long run don’t do the next longer one; pick up where you left off. If you miss a month or more…pick another option!

However, if you are in a hurry and want to experience either the Leading Ladies’ or Mount Rushmore Marathon, e-mail me at home and I’ll send you the shortened version. Two great races—at home---and in idyllic surroundings. The ‘Ladies’’ will be fast and the ‘Gentlemen’ a “Monumental Challenge” where they don’t take you for “granite.”

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