Time to Train for Your First Marathon

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Join the crowd and start training for the fall marathon season. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

You’ve been telling yourself for years that you’re going to do it. This is going to be the year that you finally put foot to pavement. You will run a marathon.

It’s a promise I’ve been making to myself for nearly two decades, but every year I never seem to get around to making good on it. As a former high school athlete and recreational runner, running a marathon was always on my “to-do” list. Then I got busy with work and family, gained enough weight to make even a jog uncomfortable and soon, running became something I used to do. Now I’m so out of shape and achy that my muscles have no memory of running for either sport or pleasure.

But for me, this is the year that I will run a fall marathon. And I hope it will be your year too. Now is the time to not only begin your training but to pick your race. I’ve already signed up for the New York City marathon lottery, and I plan to raise money with a charity team to ensure I get a slot in the Nov. 1 event. And if the New York City marathon isn’t right for you, there are countless other great fall marathons — Philadelphia, Berlin and Chicago to name a few.

Every weekday for the next five and a half months, the Well blog will highlight a daily Run Well feature to help all of us get marathon ready. Run Well will offer coaching advice and training plans from top running experts, insights from elite runners and stories of the people who make marathons the memorable, inspirational events that they are.

Are you, like me, basically a new runner just getting off the couch? We’ll have training advice from former Olympian Jeff Galloway, who is offering a weekly coaching plan that uses his walk-run method to help you train for your first marathon without getting injured.

Would you rather run your first marathon with a time goal in mind? Or are you a middle-of-the-pack runner looking for a traditional training plan? Tune in to Run Well for advice from top running coaches about how to calculate your marathon pace and safely train for the big day.

Are you an older runner who is concerned about the rigors of training for a marathon with an aging body? Marathoner Bill Rodgers, multiple-winner of both the Boston and New York marathons and still amazing at 61, is here for you, with training advice and tips to keep you running strong at any age.

Whether you are running your first marathon or are already an experienced runner, you’ll find useful advice for any level of fitness. In the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to the coaches and elite athletes who have joined Run Well to support your fall marathon training. And beginning in June, you can sign up for a free tracking tool that will allow you to choose from among several free, 16- to 20-week training plans and monitor your progress until race day.

A number of my colleagues have also signed up to help. Over at the Gadgetwise blog, Danielle Belopotosky is offering weekly Friday reviews of various gadgets designed to cater to the unique needs of runners. (She’s planning on running her first marathon this fall too.) Reporter Liz Robbins, author of “A Race Like No Other’’ (HarperCollins, 2008), which celebrates the stories that make up the New York City marathon, will write a weekly column chronicling the people and culture of the marathon. Andy Lehren, who lists two Boston marathons among his nine-marathon tally, will give readers a unique view of the running experience, with his analyses of running trends, courses and races. Web producer Karen Barrow will share tales of both ordinary and extraordinary runners in a new Running Voices multimedia feature. And health reporter Gina Kolata, who this year hopes to run her first marathon, will continue to offer fitness insights from her regular Personal Best column.

And in the coming weeks, the Well blog will introduce other tools, links and features to help with your training and inspire you to stay the course. So let’s get started. The Web site www.marathonguide.com has an exhaustive list of all marathons around the world. And the clock is already ticking on the June 1 deadline to enter the lottery for the New York City marathon.

And be sure to check in with the Well blog every weekday for new information about fall marathon training. Coming up, we’ve got an interview with elite runner Kara Goucher about her first marathon, the debut of our Running Voices series, a list of our favorite fall marathons, Liz Robbins weighing in on why the marathon is a race like no other, and a Gadgetwise review of the Nike Sensor + iPod for tracking workouts.

See you on the run!