Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

Marathon Training

For Faster of For Slower

Published December 17, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

It is 0600 hours at the Rooster Inn. The family descends on the kitchen for breakfast before scattering for the day. The cappuccino machine whistles, the microwave beeps, the fridge door thumps, and the toaster pops. The children sleep-walk among the various appliances. The dogs circle the table for unattended lunch bags.

We sit at the kitchen table to eat and talk. This chaotic family time provides a setting for my frequent proclamations, which start with: "Children! Marla and I have decided " The children wait in trepidation. My wife wonders in fear what she agreed to in her sleep.

So, when I proclaimed: "Children! Marla and I have decided to train for a fall marathon," her reaction came loud and swift. "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?" The children rolled their eyes, and continued eating. My partner took another sip of latte, and quickly blocked my retreat: "Count me in!"

Few events stress a marriage as much as marathon training. Raising three teen-agers becomes playtime in comparison. I held her hands and looked into her eyes. The children looked in disgust, ready to bring up their breakfasts. We repeated our vows: " for faster or for slower, in sickness and in health, until the starting canon do us 'part". We also pledged that if injury prevents one of us from running the marathon, she will run it for both of us.

We took care of the sickness-and-health part at noon, running to the doctor's office for flu shots. Then we dashed to the mall to buy new running shoes. The faster-and-slower part remained an issue. How can I go from zero to 26.2, when my long run is from the television to the telephone? The answer is: "slowly, very slowly." September is nine months away, giving us plenty of time to carry this marathon to term.

In past marathons, we successfully followed Jeff Galloway's training plan. In the winter months, we gradually built our base to 30 miles per week, and increased our weekly long run by 1 mile each week to 10 miles. In the second trimester, we practiced breathing in and breathing out, switched to bi-weekly long runs, and increased the distance by 2 miles each time. In the summer months, we aimed for three long runs in the 20-mile range, and then tapered off for race day.

We will follow the same game plan. We will also drink a gallon of water every day, eat high-energy low-oxalate foods, use real amaretto in the cappuccino, take a daily nap, sleep eight hours at night, enter one road race each month, buy another pair of running shoes and neon shorts at the start of the third trimester, pack our bags early, and keep a full tank of gas.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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