The thought of running 26.2 miles, like people will be doing in the Belleville Main Street Marathon on Sept. 24, boggles my mind.
Not that I will be doing it, if for no other reason than it starts at 7 a.m., way before I am up. But also because I have never even walked more than 20 miles at a time and that was back in high school before I had any sense.
Anyway, Mike Toolen, owner of Toolen’s Running Start in Green Mount Crossing at Shiloh, said marathons are an interesting mix of mental and physical toughness.
“I’ve only done 35,” he said. That includes the Boston Marathon four times.
He helps runners who want to try one learn how to train. Sort of like the Belleville Running Club’s couch to 5K program, only with a lot more Ks.
“The key is to take it slow and easy,” Toolen said.
He said the program would run 18 weeks and about 10 people were into the third week of it.
“The toughest part of a marathon is getting through the 18 weeks of training,” Toolen said. “Be smart. Don’t try to do too much too soon. It’s important to avoid injuries. If you get injured, then it’s like starting over again mentally as well as physically.”
He said 90 percent of a marathon is mental.
The toughest part of a marathon is getting through the 18 weeks of training. Be smart. Don’t try to do too much too soon.
Mike Toolen, owner of Toolen’s Running Start
I’m thinking that would be the big part where your brain is trying to tell you how crazy it would be to try. Training with other people can provide support for when good sense starts to kick in and you think about quitting, apparently.
His group runs on Tuesday night for speed training which I never even considered you would need in a marathon. They run an 800-meter race, then cool down by jogging 400 meters. Then they run another 800, etc., up to eight or 10 times.
“That’s crazy,” I said, without even thinking.
“A lot of people say that,” he said.
Then he got into what I call marathon math.
“We take a long run and do half the distance the day before the race,” he said.
That’s 13 miles or so, right? No, that’s 20 miles. How does that figure?
“Twenty miles is really where the race starts,” Toolen said. “The toughest part, mentally and physically, is the last 6.2 miles. I want them to be able to get through that.”
In addition to getting people ready to run, Toolen said, race organizers have sent off an application to have the race certified to allow runners to use their times to qualify for other races like the Boston Marathon. That involved measuring the course by bicycle several times to determine it is at least 26.2 miles long. The tolerances are very small.
“We had to move the starting line back 22 inches,” he said.
For more information, go online to bellevillemarathon.com.