10 Tips to Master the Marathon

Finding a marathoner with more experience than Doug Kurtis is like locating an unoccupied port-a-potty five minutes before the start of a big race—it's extremely rare, if not impossible.

Kurtis, 62, a writer and race director from Livonia, Michigan, has run 205 marathons in the last 40 years, finishing 200 of those in less than three hours. His 200th sub-3:00, last October's Detroit Free Press Marathon, made him one of 33 people to beat that mark in five separate decades.

Despite the high volume, Kurtis avoided burnout and injury by training smart—running slowly most of the time, varying his routes and training companions, and taking rest days when he felt he needed them. Still, he estimates he wore out about 700 pairs of shoes over the course of his career. Since Detroit in October, he hasn't run another marathon, and he says he may not again (although we don't really believe him).

"Two hundred at sub-3:00 was a nice place to stop," he says. "I had a long career because I had fun doing it. There's something really special about running a marathon."

Here, Kurtis shares how you, too, can master the marathon.

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Having a concrete goal is motivating—especially when you've paid for it—and the earlier you can get motivated, the better. Even if something comes up and you can't run the race, the entry fee is a worthwhile investment if it gets you out the door for a few months, Kurtis says.

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Run Most of Your Miles Easy

Kurtis's training plan calls for just one fast run—speedwork, a marathon-pace run, or a race—each week. The rest of the time, he advises running comfortably. Why? "A marathon is all about endurance, not speed," Kurtis says. "Speed comes from putting the miles in."

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