Each step of training involves either an increase in time or intensity. This challenges your body in new ways, making it necessary to learn to “read your body” and become aware of the subtle differences between discomfort and pain. If discomfort remains at a low level, or decreased during training, you may continue. While you may attempt to train through discomfort, do not run through pain.

One must realize that the training session is 25 percent perspiration and 75 percent determination. It is important to remember that the marathon really starts at the 20 mile mark and it’s the last 6.2 miles that really makes or breaks you. First time marathoners in training should run approximately 34-40 miles per week for at least six or seven weeks before the marathon building up to at least two 15-18 mile runs over this period. The last two weeks should be maintained with 25-30 miles each week and the final week prior to the marathon should be kept light.

Experienced marathoners should be running between 30-50 miles per week for the six-to-seven weeks prior to the marathon. There should be a long training run, at least one 20 miler, every other week in this period before the marathon.

No one should attempt to run the marathon distance during training as it could lower the body’s resistance to injury and influenza. The best method to improve speed is to do speed work by entering a 5K or 10K road race on recovery weekends.

Don’t think about what lies ahead: concentrate on maintaining your pace and keeping a strong psychological attitude right to the finish line.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a sports podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons, has a practice in Darien and resides in Westport. For more information visit his website at www.therunning doctor.net.