How to be a marathon runner

Stay Fit


Every year I hear of people signing up for programs to train for a marathon. Do you know anything about these programs? How far do you have to be running to start?

If you are thinking about the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon in the fall, you are smart to begin training now.

Last weekend, I caught up with Jim Adams, longtime Baltimore runner and owner of the Falls Road Running Store. Adams has coordinated the Baltimore Marathon's training programs for the past few years.

The Baltimore Running Coalition, a nonprofit group of runners and walkers, will sponsor a handful of training programs again this year, Adams says. The best source for a comprehensive list is the Baltimore Marathon Web site at

"Everyone will start training in the next few weeks," Adams says.

When you are looking for a group, think about your priorities. Many runners are motivated by groups such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training, which trains thousands of runners, cyclists and triathletes each year to compete across the country.

With this type of program, you will join a well-coached training team and pledge to raise money. Along the way, you will likely be introduced to at least one person suffering from (in this case) blood cancer, who can be helped by your efforts. "They have some very compelling stories and many people are moved by the experience," Adams says.

For this year's Team In Training schedule, visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Web site, Other nonprofit groups are listed on the Baltimore Marathon training site under charity teams.

A handful of running stores, including Falls Road (baltimorerun, Charm City Run ( and Baltimore Fleet Feet Sports ( also have programs. Falls Road and Charm City are gearing up in the next few weeks.

Fleet Feet, on Reisterstown Road, is handling Jeff Galloway's Training Program. Since you are a beginner, the Galloway Program, developed by Olympic runner Galloway in 1978, is something you might consider.

Galloway has written a handful of books, including the best-sellers Galloway's Book on Running and Marathon - You Can Do It!

His program encourages runners to train three days a week, cross-train three days and complete a long run on the weekends. During the long run, Galloway advocates a walk-run approach, with frequent stretches of walking during the run to recover.

Some competitive runners scoff at this approach, but Galloway has been effective at attracting many beginners and recreational runners to marathons.

Another possibility: regional running clubs. The Baltimore Road Runners Club (, Howard County Striders (strid and Annapolis Striders ( have programs to train for the half and full marathons in the fall. Tom Nasuta, president of the BRRC, says his group alternates between running on Baltimore County's NCR Trail and around Loch Raven Reservoir.

Now for the real question: How long do you have to be running to get started? It is amazing how much you can accomplish if you just get outside and start. Most programs, including Galloway's, start runners at 3 miles. So if you can jog that far, you should be able to jump on board with these beginning programs.

The BRRC starts runners even more slowly, following a program by running legend Amby Burfoot. Here you will start with 1.5 miles, three times a week, to build up to a 5-kilometer distance in seven weeks. Not bad. In fact, it's a lot easier than sitting on the couch, wondering if you can make the distance. Go for it.

Are you a Stay Fit success? If so, share your story. Please send details to, or via regular mail to Fitness Q&A, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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