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February 26, 2008

When we sat down with Dr.Romanov to write yet another article for the Tuesday's spotlight, I expected a standard conversation where Dr. normally starts with: "Well to do this or that" or "It is all very simple"... So when I asked "What would you say to someone preparing to do their first marathon? What do you suggest they do?" and Dr.Romanov replied "Stop! What are you doing? Please, regain consciousness!" I almost fell off the chair laughing and had to ask again "No, seriously!". Dr.Romanov stopped laughing and repeated his words. My next logical question was "What do you mean?"

Well, let's see. What is a marathon? It is a long distance running event of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles 385 yards). The name marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, who was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the Senate, exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won' or 'We are victorious') before collapsing and dying of exhaustion. [Source: wikipedia]

Everybody who knows a bit of history of the Olympic Games, also knows that an event called a "marathon" was created and added to Olympic Games when they were revived in 1896 in Athens. The only reason for the creation of a marathon as an event, was a marketing ploy to attract more people to come see the first modern Olympic Games. At least Greeks knew more about marketing and promotion then, because in 2004 it looked like there were no Olympic Games in Athens.

Anyway, while other Olympic events are about "who is faster?" or "who is better?", the marathon seems to be more about "who can handle this?" It's an ego boosting or breaking event. It serves well for some to be able to say "I ran a marathon". Not "I won!" but simply "I did it".

So you're basically trying to change your image in your own eyes and in the minds of your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. You're looking to change your own perception of yourself. You know there are other ways to do it, instead of subjecting yourself to artificially created circumstances with a potential to incur a serious injury, when you're not in distress and you don't have an urgent message to deliver?

Since this is obviously a matter of a personal opinion, and everybody is entitled to do what their heart desires, and you feel you simply must run a marathon, here's what Dr.Romanov suggests to help you get through it and with better results.

  1. CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION OF SELF AND THE MARATHON. That's first and foremost. What does that have to do with running a marathon? Everything. We all have the ability to run a marathon, so it's really only a question of "how fast?". But majority "naturally" assumes that it's impossible. If you're entering simply to try to finish you already shoot yourself in the foot before you even started. Your mind is already set on not being able to do it, and your task now becomes a "task of overcoming that perception" instead of focusing on running. Here's just one historical example that change in perception changes everything and breaks many barriers - Roger Bannister and the mile. The impossibility of running a mile at 4 minutes or under was a myth created by somebody not qualified to make that judgment and it had no scientific or any other basis. How can you say that you can't do something only because someone else hasn't done it yet? After Bannister there were thousands that breathed through the mile, so you are welcome to wait for another Bannister to give you the green light or you can do it yourself.
  2. DO NOT RUN A MARATHON WHILE PREPARING FOR ONE. That's another myth buster for you. Training for a marathon requires a specific training regimen, but running miles and miles is not part of it. Contrary to the popular belief, Dr.Romanov recommends to not do high mileage. Why? Because it is not needed, there are no real benefits, as a matter of fact high mileage opens up miles and miles of opportunities to get injured. Why do many think it helps to run a lot of miles? Because it supposedly helps one to train the body to deal with such a long distance, so basically you're working on changing your perception... please, read #1. Maybe you don't realize it, but 99% of people have issues with legs giving out, not any other part of the body. Well that brings us to the last point for this article...
  3. WORK ON YOUR RUNNING TECHNIQUE - IT WILL SAVE YOU. As mentioned above, preparing for the marathon requires a specific approach and training, simply running more won't do it. Since not everyone can afford a training program and not everybody wants one, the next best and smart thing you can do is work on your running technique. Having a good handle on your technique will give you confidence which in turn will eliminate your insecurities and fears and that, like a domino effect, will work wonders. Believe it.

Article by Dr. Nicholas Romanov
Composed by L. Romanov

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