Congratulations on wanting to start a marathon program. You should get as much pleasure out of your training and your improvements in speed and distance as you will when the race official finally puts a finisher's metal around your neck!
Be aware, however, that marathons can be dangerous. At last year's Marine Corps Marathon, one experienced marathoner died from a heart attack.
Now for the good news--many organizations are ready to help you. Here are a few:
* Hal Higdon (www.halhigdon.com) offers an on-line program. Higdon recommends that you begin his program only after you have established a running base. That base consists of one year of running, the ability to run for 3 to 6 miles, weekly training of 3 to 5 running days, and weekly totals of 15 to 25 miles. With that base, Higdon offers an 18-week marathon training program.
* USA Fit (www.usafit.com) will train a novice in 6 months. Their program is available in many cities for about $75. In some cities, the first lesson begins with a 2-mile fun run.
* Jeff Galloway (www.jeffgalloway.com) offers training in many cities. Galloway is famous as an advocate of a run/walk approach to marathons. Marathoners in his program run for a mile, then walk briefly, then repeat for each additional mile.
Marathons typically close their courses in one of two ways. Some start at the beginning, and close a mile every given time period. For example, a race may open the first mile to traffic after, say, 14 minutes, the second mile after 28 minutes, etc. The other way is to close the entire course after a certain number of hours. For example, a race may remove all the police, aid stations, clocks, and finish line after, say, 5 to 7 hours.
Very few marathons have qualifications. To enter the Boston Marathon, registrants must run a recent marathon in less than an age-graded maximum time. Other marathons just ask that you self-certify your physical preparedness to endure their race.
Based on your mother's experience, the two of you might want to prepare for a Fall 2002 marathon. This summer, you could train. This fall, you could enter some 5k and 10k races. Then go back to training only in the winter. Next spring, register for a fall marathon, enroll in a training program, and enter some 15k, 10 mile, and 13.1 mile races. In fall 2002, run your race together, mother and daughter!
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