Marathoning mojo 0
(QMI Agency file photo)
Malcolm Anderson left New Zealand to study geography in Canada. Twenty-five years later, he has run round the globe and interviewed more than 120 runners who have completed more than 100 marathons each. Why run so hard? Why run at all?
"Marathoning has become much more doable," says Anderson, who lives near Kingston, Ont., and is a health services researcher when he's not hitting the trails. His book The Messengers (check out runplaces.com) explores the shared passion of long-distance runners and conveys their inspirational messages to would-be runners.
Having already run 46 marathons himself, the 51-year-old hopes to run at least 100 before he hangs up his running shoes. His father died from a heart attack when Anderson was a boy, and so he says he wants to stay healthy for his own kids.
Marathoners run for a variety of reasons, he told me, everything from getting fit to losing weight to winning a bet. In his book, runners talk about their favourite runs (a rock 'n' roll marathon or one at the North Pole) and their obsessions (some run a marathon for every letter of the alphabet -- from Atlanta to Zurich, say; and one guy has run 250 marathons dressed as Superman).
But when asked why most people run, Anderson thinks it has to do with more than just achievement.
"You come to appreciate your own health, but you also build up such a social network of friends around the world."
Distance is one thing, but what about time?
"The more you run, the less time seems important," he says. "For your first marathon, don't try to focus on a fast time. Just get out and enjoy the day."
Whether it's a marathon or a fall fun run, it's less about time and more about personal achievement, says Edmonton's John Stanton, who at 64 is still running while managing The Running Room, the company he founded decades ago and which has encouraged millions of Canadian to run through its many clinics.
Having accomplished 60 marathons himself, he's convinced there's nothing like the empowerment that comes from crossing the finish line.
"I never get tired of the thrill of seeing people do it. You can't help but feel elated and inspired," says Stanton, whose company sponsors many of Canada's major runs, including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Run for the Cure on Oct. 4.
Anyone prepping for a fall run should try to vary their training routine, he says. And while it's a little late to prepare for a marathon, even a couch potato can be ready for a 5- or 10-kilometre run by mid or late fall. Joining a running group or planning your run around a fundraising goal can keep you motivated, he adds.
Don't jinx your first marathon by trying something you're not used to, says Anderson:
Don't eat strange food the night before, don't wear brand new running shoes, and don't wear new socks that might rub you the wrong way.
Running is a prescription for Canada's obesity epidemic, says Stanton.
"I'm personally convinced after 30 years of preaching this stuff that if you can get people into regular exercise there is a natural transition to healthy eating. It's when we are not active that we fall prey to the nachos."
Did You Know?
More people have climbed Mount Everest than have run 100 marathons.
Joggers live longer
Jogging was associated with a 44% reduction in the relative risk of death over 35 years compared with deaths among non-joggers, according to a recent Danish study published online in MedPage Today. That reduction translated into a longer life - 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women.
Ready, set, go
Running-book author Malcolm Anderson has already run four marathons this year. His tips on making the most of yours:
* Don't push yourself in the last week of training; think about staying healthy and stretching.
* The night before may not bring good sleep because of the excitement and anticipation of the race. "So two nights before your race, make sure you get a good night's sleep," he says.
* When you start your marathon, the temptation is to take off fast. But you'll get tired a lot sooner. "The last six will be very difficult if you don't pace yourself during the first 20!"
* For more on marathon preparation, check out Anderson's blog at runplaces.com.
You can do it
Today there are books, columns and clinics to help runners get started or get better, says The Running Room's John Stanton. It's never too late to start. Check out runningroom.com for a cross-Canada list of clinics and upcoming runs.