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Dave Emilio runs along the boardwalk in the Beach in Toronto, June 23, 2011.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Dave Emilio is documenting his training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 16.

My original goal when I started to run was merely to get fit and feel better. I made some lifestyle changes that included eating better and running with a friend who was regularly heading out for a four-kilometre loop around our neighbourhood. I was immediately hooked and determined to run this route faster each time. I remember how good my very first race felt, hurting near the finish but wanting to carry on and not slow down. Over the years, I have continued to get faster and have lost much more weight than I originally set out to.

I still run for weight management and the health benefits, but also because I find it very gratifying to cover as much ground in as little time as I can. I also love to enter races to run among hundreds or thousands of other like-minded people testing our mettle over the marathon distance or our speed in a five-kilometre race.

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I'm now at my favourite point in training. A few runs a week, I now focus on marathon-specific workouts to become even faster.

Some runners are happy to don ratty old shorts and get out the door for an hour to be at one with nature with no concern for how far or fast they go. I have no issue with that. But what gets me back out there is the need for speed. Some days call for easier runs, which are still very enjoyable and a big part of marathon training. But far and away, my favourite runs are those that leave me dripping in sweat, heart pounding and feeling the burn in my lungs and legs, knowing I have completed a workout or a race having given it my all. It makes me feel so alive.

As I approach the age at which my times are going to start to slow, I enjoy them all the more and I accept that the speed will leave me. As long as I still get to feel the burn.

Special to the Globe and Mail

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