In the 1980’s Jim Fixx and I were giving a pre-race clinic for a cancer charity. Fixx is the author of the best seller “The Complete Book of Running.” Together we agreed upon speaking about methods for marathon training.

The main goal in training for the marathon is to finish the 26-mile, 385-yard race with no injuries. The most efficient method of doing this is to gradually increase the long run to a distance of at least 20-22 miles.

About two to three months prior to the marathon, increase your run a few miles every 10 days to two weeks. The long runs should be taken every other week. On the off weeks, run about one-half of your long run distance. It is important to run slower and enjoy the longer distance.

If necessary, take breaks by jogging or walking when needed. The main objective is to finish feeling comfortable—not exhausted.

This method teaches both your body and mind to “gear-up” for the marathon distance. Not every runner can recover from a run of this distance every week. A fatigue build-up week after week could result in staleness or possibly injury which may hurt your chances for the marathon. Forget the total mileage practice….it is the long run that will give you the endurance to run the marathon.

The normal and standard weekly mileage training practiced for so long will only guarantee that you can run that number of miles per week, not that you can run the long distance of a marathon. The problem with runners who follow the training method of running a certain number of miles per week is that even those who survive the high weekly mileage will hit the wall at 18-20 miles because they have not trained for the longer distance. Our bodies can only do what they have been trained to do. If your longest run is 15 miles, it is possible that this will be your endurance level.

It is very important to have an easy day’s run before the long run, and also the day after. If your body is still tired several days after, it is a sign that you need more rest. The long run is the most important factor to prepare your body for the marathon.

On the day of the marathon itself, take one cup of water at each water station. On a hot day, you may need two cups. Be sure to drink water before the race. When you take the water, it is wise to walk a few yards to avoid choking.

The first-time marathoner should run to finish and not for time. After you have had the experience of a few marathons, then you can try for a projected finish time. Remember when training for a marathon the key to success would be the long runs.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons & has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.

For info visit his Web site at www.stamford, and find a Physician-Dr. Robert F. Weiss.