For marathon fitness, the readiness is all

Mon Nov 1, 2010 12:26pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As some 42,000 runners prepare to lap the miles of the 2010 New York City Marathon on Sunday, experts agree that there's nothing like long distance running for cardio vascular fitness.

But they caution that overall fitness is not built by running alone. Going the distance takes mindful training, whether you're an elite runner or a rookie on your maiden dash.

"If you can run a marathon you have a really good cardiovascular fitness level," said Dr. Henry Williford of the American College of Sports Medicine. "But unless you do some sort of resistance/weight training your muscle strength is not as good."

And building those fitness levels is a slow and steady business.

Williford, a professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, said a beginner may need at least six months of training to achieve the stamina to tackle Sunday's 26.2-mile run.

"But if you train well," he said, "you should thrive."

Dr. Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine physician with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, urges everyone to take on a marathon at some time in their life.

"You can do it walking," said Metzl, who will run, not walk, his 29th marathon on November 7. "On TV you see these really fast people, but that's not the majority."   Continued...

<p>A marathon runner acknowledges cheering spectators while running under a bridge close to the end of the Athens Classic Marathon October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>