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A runner's diary: The secret to completing a marathon is mileage

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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

I've often thought there's no need to get too technical about training. But this time around, I want to see real results, so I'm focusing a lot more on the important workouts: hill repeats, intervals and the one I like best of all - the progression run. That's where you start out easy and build up to a fast finish. Despite the effort, progression runs always leave me feeling great; with a gradual buildup, I never feel like I'm struggling. It's also a good way to practise proper pacing for the marathon. There is a fantastic quote from Running Times senior editor Scott Douglas that I try to think about on race day: "In the first half of the race, don't be an idiot. In the second half, don't be a wimp."

I try my best to live up to that motto. But the secret to completing a marathon, however, is still mileage. Ask any fast marathoner how much they run and you are sure to get a response that seems nutty, like upward of 120 km a week. Some log even more, and I am not talking about elites either, just your average Joe who can run marathons in less than three hours. Unfortunately, we cannot just adapt that theory and start running 100 plus clicks a week. It takes time to progress from 35 km to 50, 60, 70 km etc. For the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I plan to get up to 90 to 95 km a week on average, with a maximum of about 110 km for a few weeks. As they say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I am no Einstein but I know that it's time to step it up. (My weekly mileage is currently about 85 km.)

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I'm excited to see if I can increase my mileage while still managing to stay healthy. Many times, I've trained running the long runs too slow or too fast, or not running speed intervals often enough. While we are still 13 weeks away from the STWM, that's not a lot of time in the marathon training world. I have 10 more long runs, then it'll be time to taper for the race and get rested. Until then there are many kilometres to be covered.

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