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Q&A: Can I Run a Marathon?

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Q: If I can barely run two miles, is it a realistic goal to want to run a marathon? – Lynn, Ann Arbor, Michigan

A: It's a fantastic goal. The only thing that can make it potentially unrealistic is the timeframe. It's like wanting to lose 100 lbs—over the course of a year to 18 months, it's very doable. 18 days? Not so much.

So your first goal should be to work on interval training on a “jog:walk” basis until you can run 2-3 miles. Here’s how: Alternate between a 1-minute jog and 5-minute walk for 3 miles, three times per week. Each week, cut 30 seconds from the walk and add it to the jog until you've reversed the “work:rest” or “jog:walk” interval (i.e. you're jogging 5 minutes and walking for one minute). This will take about nine weeks. At this point, you'll switch to jogging for distance and gradually build up the mileage.

Basically, the plan is to take the next nine to 10 weeks to build up to 3 miles (or about a 5k). Then we'll work on a plan to turn that 5K into a 10K over the next three to six months. Then up to a half a marathon, and so on.

So your goal is a good one and very admirable, but based on where you are at right now, we're realistically looking at 12 to 18 months to achieve marathon status.

Alwyn Cosgrove is renowned for his fat loss training programs and for being a dynamic and educational speaker. He’s the owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California and the author of The New Rules of Lifting. Learn more at AlwynCosgrove.com.

Tags: Training, Cardio, Running, Conditioning, Q&A, Energy System Development