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  • Why Not Walk a Marathon?

    By: Joann Bally CSCS

    If long distance walking is your favorite way to stay in shape, why not walk a marathon?

    Most large marathons welcome walkers. Boston is an exception. They have a minimum qualifying time which, with rare exceptions, can only be reached by runners. The Los Angeles Marathon has many walkers each year, and so does San Diego, which gives them an earlier starting time. The Portland Marathon is especially friendly to walkers, and so are many others, but you probably don't want to choose a small, out-of-the-way race for your first try, or you may get awfully lonely before you finish.

    The Training Methodology is Simular

    The marathon is 26.2 miles, whether you walk or run, so you can train similarly to the way runners do. Increase your mileage by no more than 10% per week. Your most important walk is one long one each week, or every second week, which most people do on the weekend. You can complete a marathon with 40-50 miles of training per week at the end of the training period.

    Choose a good training schedule set out for runners, and do the same mileage, but walk it. Don't choose a schedule that has you going for a certain amount of time--you won't be going as far as the runners if you do.

    There are a number of good books for marathon training. Jeff Galloway's is probably the most popular. You can also get good information from magazines such as Runner's World. If you're a newcomer to long distances, choose your marathon and give yourself about 6 months to train properly. If you're already walking 8 or 10 miles at a time, it won't take you as long to get ready.

    A True Hero

    Finishing a marathon is a great accomplishment, whether you run or walk. You don't have to do this kind of distance for optimum fitness although the training will certainly get you in good shape. The biggest benefit from the marathon itself is psychological, not physical.

    Like the runners, you will get a marathon shirt, a finisher's medal, and bragging rights over your sedentary friends.

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