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Marathon Madness

by Cathryn Majorossy

"The marathon is probably 5 percent physical and 95 percent psychological. If you think you can, you can."

~Runner's World

The traditional origin of the marathon dates as far back as the 5th century B.C. It is told that a Greek herald named Phidippides ran from Marathon, a small town about 26 miles from Athens, to Athens in order to announce a Greek victory on the battlefield. He died on the spot. Now that's commitment! The outcome of that first "marathon," however, need not be discouraging to the rest of us actual and potential marathoners.

Today, marathons are held all over the world--from Alabama to China, Alaska to Chile. And no matter what the personal goal is, whether it's to "finish" or to win the gold, whether running in the pouring rain, in 100 degree heat or on a crisp autumn afternoon, it is a 26.2 mile accomplishment for all. The mental as well as physical challenges pay off in reaping the personal rewards of accomplishment. Being a marathon "jogger" myself--I say that in regards to the 4 hourish marathons I've run--I've mustered up a few helpful hints for the upcoming fall marathon season:

Start Slow Yes, I know you are anxious. You have been training for this for at least a few months . . . hopefully. You want to break out of the pack and strut your stuff. Well, that's potentially going to lead to disaster. You know your pace and you know how you feel after a long run. So despite the adrenaline pumping through your ready-to-go body, start slow and steady. 20 miles later you and your legs will be very happy you did.

Hydrate...Hydrate...Hydrate! Get the point? Many marathons now have "pit stops" every couple of miles. Use them! Alternate a cup of water with a cup of a "replenishing" drink every 2 miles to help maintain your energy.

Gear What are you going to wear? to bring? Well a rule of thumb on the big day is NOTHING NEW! Wear clothes you have done long runs in, including sneakers, socks, shirts, jewelry...everything. The less and lighter the better. Plan ahead by finding out if your race will provide you with food stops, with Vaseline (to prevent chafing) and with music along the way. The lightest load is the the shortest road!

Cheers! During my first marathon the crowd was enormous! The cheers were incredible. As I was running along I began to notice everyone was cheering "Go-Monica...Go-Monica." It seemed as if everyone knew and was cheering for this Monica girl who was running next to me. I thought, " Wow" this girl has so many friends that have come to cheer her on! A couple of miles later I thought no way, no one knows that many people. I turned around and looked at her . . . she had her name in black duct tape across the front and back of her shirt. I began to notice a lot of people had done the same. Great idea . . . keep that in mind for extra cheering support!

Know Thy Course Try and find out as much as you can about the course while you are training so you can prepare yourself. Are there hills? Pit stops--with water? food? power drinks? Are there a lot of restrooms along the way? What is the temperature likely to be like?

Show Up Early!! No explanation needed!

The Days Before: Try and do your last long run at least 2-3 weeks before the marathon. Don't try to be a hero and run 20 miles the week before the marathon. Save your heroism for race day. Rest up the night before and don't eat anything new that may upset your digestion during the long haul!

The Days After: You've finished! Yeah! You're exhausted! Ahhhh! Though you may not feel up to it, try to walk or go for a light jog the next day or two to loosen up your sore muscles. Also, lightly stretch to help with cramping.

Non-Marathoners If you're not a runner, cheer for them! Nothing keeps marathoners more motivated than a crowd of cheering people!

**Good Luck to those participating in upcoming marathons. Break a Leg**

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