Without a doubt the marathon is the distance that has the highest number of ill-prepared entrants.Something happened many years ago that led to this distance becoming the be all end all for runners.Whether it was Runner's World or people like Jeff Galloway, or the programs that seemed to appear overnight that said they could get you from zero miles to the starting line in 6 or 8 months,the marathon experienced a huge increase in participants. By appealing to people's desire to climb a type of personal Mt. Everest we saw the emergence of "coaches" only to willing to help them on their journey while making money in the process.
If you are a thinking,discerning runner you recognize that racing,as well as running a marathon, is something that should be done only after years of preparation. I know that flies in the face of those who believe that there is always a better, faster way, but, if you want to do it right and have a long running career, then you must be patient.Nothing can speed up the benefits your muscles,tendons and joints get from seasons of mileage and time out on your feet.Years ago everyone was shocked when Carlos Lopes,at age 37,won the gold medal in the Olympic marathon.When asked what was the secret for this success at such an age,he said that his whole distance running career had prepared him for the marathon.
While we're on the subject of age,far too many young promising runners,those in their 20's, prematurely begin racing the marathon. They either ignore or are unaware of the fact that as we age the drop off in performance times lessen as the distance lengthens. So what's the hurry?
I say ignore the marathon hype,race a variety of distances over different terrains and settings,see what you can do,find your ideal distance,then,when you've put in the time,laid the foundation,make the move to the marathon.