How to become a successful marathon runner

Heart racing. Dripping with sweat. Feet getting weak. And there are still five miles to go. Those months of training paid off.

In addition to seven to eight months of physical preparation, successful marathon runners must also prepare mentally and psychologically.

Jennifer Lopez, senior communication studies major, who ran the ING 2010 Marathon said that much of running is mental.

“It really is mind over matter because when you hit that 22 miles,” Lopez said. “You, literally, feel like you want to die.”

Bryan Hagopian, head track and cross country coach and avid marathon runner, said that the first thing to do when training for a marathon is to get outside and start running.

“Running on the treadmill is not the same,” he said. “The body needs to know what the road feels like.”

Elizabeth Swann, ATC, athletic training program director, said that not training properly leads to what Swann calls DNF — Do not finish.

“You physiologically cannot finish,” Swann said. “Your body will shut down. It can even lead to heat stroke, which may result in death.”

Swann said it is important to stretch one’s legs, arms and shoulders before running. Beginner runners should also start running in intervals, jogging for a few minutes then walking for a minute. Swann said that gradual increase of intensity and mileage will decrease injury.

However, Swann says that to be safe, one should always see a physician before beginning training.

According to Hagopian, runners should change their shoes every 200 miles. He said that it is better to buy shoes at a specialty store like Runner’s Depot, where employees are more likely to be actual runners, and not a generic sports store. Hagopian believes New Bal-ance, Nike and ASICS, used by the NSU track team, are among the best brands. Shoes should have at least a thumb’s width of space at the top to accommodate for swelling. One should never run in new socks to prevent blisters.

Swann said that the Gatorade and Sports Science Institute suggests drinking eight ounces of fluid every 15 minutes of training.

Although Hagopian recom-mended eight to ten hours of sleep per night during training, he said that this would probably not be possible for a college student. Taking a 15-20 minute power nap is an alternative.

“While you’re training, stay away from alcohol and fast food,” Hagopian said. “Start lifting weights for 30 to 40 minutes two to three days a week. Since your legs will be getting stronger, you want to put your upper body in balance with curls, bench presses and sit ups every day until you reach 500 a day.”

Hagopian said that not eating before a race is an old wives’ tale. He said that since the body breaks starch down in 48 hours, a carbohydrate such as pasta can be eaten a day or two before the race. Dairy, however, should also be avoided before the race.

Hagopian recommends eating oranges and strawberries at stops along the marathon. The antioxidants in these fruits will maintain a high energy level.

Running a marathon gives one a feeling of accomplishment, but also gives health benefits.

“From a scientific perspective,” said Swann. “the endurance training of running improves bone density to decrease the risk of osteoporosis for women.”

Hagopian said that setting and accomplishing a goal a lleviates the disappointment of defeat.

Swann agrees.

“You have to have the mental stamina to keep yourself going,” she said. “You have to keep in mind, ‘I will finish.’”

Hollie Bonewit-Cron, head coach of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, who has run three half marathons and one marathon. She said that marathon running is for anyone looking to accomplish a goal and that nothing should stop one from doing so.

“The feeling of running across the finish line is a myriad of emotions,” said Bonewit-Cron. “The first of which is asking yourself if you really did finish the entire race. The second would be the elation of knowing that all the hard work did in fact pay off.”

Crossing the finishing line after a marathon is a special feeling; it provides a feeling of self accomplishment. Like a drug, marathon running becomes addictive and it’s easy to keep coming back for more.

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