Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women

The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women by Dawn Dais
Copyright 2004
Seal Press - Non-fiction/Sports/Running
248 pages

The heel-to-toe method is supposed to absorb some of the shock and allow my knees to stay on my body until at least December. I have yet to figure out a method of absorbing the shock of getting out of bed at 6:30 am on a weekend, though. Any suggestions for remedying that jarring effect would be greatly appreciated.

[Note: The quote above is one of the journal entries interspersed throughout The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women]

My husband and I are doing so-so at marathon training, since neither of us really feels any overwhelming desire to run 26.2 miles, but we both still hope to at least be able to run a half-marathon, at some point. So, when Laura recommended The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On With Your Training, I looked it up. It sounded like my kind of book, I ordered a copy, and, boy, was I right. It's a hoot. My kind of book, definitely.

Dawn Dais decided to run a marathon on a whim, when she received a card in the mail about training to run a marathon with the proceeds going to the American Stroke Association. Dawn's grandfather had suffered a debilitating stroke and died not long before the card arrived. Raising money for the prevention of an illness that touched her personally was her motivation for signing up.

My husband and I were just discussing our motivation, tonight, and he said our goal was, "To get off the couch and stay off." I said, "Yeah, sort of. But, we don't have a couch." He muttered something about semantics and the fat leather chair and other stationary objects upon which to place one's behind and in the end we agreed that the point is that we're spending time together, getting in shape. Plus, someday we'll get our den floor back and buy a couch.

The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women is a nice reference but mostly it's just a really fun, raucous read. Dawn Dais is hilarious. I hope she writes more books. While I don't think everything you need to know is described in detail in this book, that's really beside the point (and she does touch on all the important topics). It's funny, inspiring, funny, helpful, and funny. And, did I mention it's funny? Her sense of humor is sarcastic and sometimes snarky writing irritates me, but it never grated on my nerves. I laughed so much, in fact, that I think I can safely say it's not a book you'll sleep through. The Non-Runner's Guide also a great starting point if you're considering marathon training or you've started and you need a little inspiration.

Dais includes training schedules for a half-marathon and full marathon. I was surprised to find that her schedules are quite different from the schedule we got for our marathon training group. They're much more intense, which is good. I've always thought our weekly workouts were a little on the wimpy side and that it was the lack of intensity during the week that made the Saturday group runs uncomfortably challenging. In fact, I like Dais' schedules so much that I photo-copied them to refer to.

Whether you'd like to run a marathon and need inspiration or just want to read something that will make you laugh, The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women is a great read, highly recommended.


  1. Sounds like a good one. I wrote up my experiences when I was training for my marathon but there's no advice in mine, just humor and embarrassing moments. And the only people who have seen it were on my e-mail list or the two folks who read my blog. Now that I'm considering training for another one (although probably a half this time), I should dig them out and re-read to remind myself what I'm in for. Sounds like this book would be the perfect companion as well.

  2. Kristen,

    It's definitely a good one -- part journal, part memoir, part advice. I'm finding I don't have all that much to say, myself. We're so far behind the rest of the group that we decided showing up for group runs is pointless and part of the entertainment was reading about her interaction with "Chatty Jen," her running buddy. Apart from the occasional spat with my husband, there's not much interaction worth noting! I'll bet your embarrassing moments would make for fun reading. ;)

  3. I think I might need to look into this. I don't really want to run a marathon, but I WOULD like to start running... maybe?

    Anyway, when I was in Rome last weekend there was a marathon going on around the Colosseum. It made me think of you.

    Keep at it, Nancy! Hey, maybe your reward for running your half marathon could be a trip to Italy?

  4. Nikki,

    If nothing else, it's a fun read, but it's also very inspiring. Have you ever run, in the past? I love running but this time has been rough. Apparently, I'm not as young as I used to be.

    Neato! You were in Rome and you thought of me! I wish you could have poofed me there.

    A trip to Italy would definitely be motivating. The marathon the author trained for was held in Hawaii. She kept saying she had pineapple drinks and beaches to look forward to. Well, shucks. I've been to Hawaii, but Italy . . .

  5. I remember Laura talking about this book and really liking it, but she's a much better runner than I am. I'd like to be a runner but my feet are bad, which makes my ankles hurt, then my knees, then my hips. I'm happy to be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes now, but I can't seem to push myself over that limit to run 4 miles (have only run that far once--ever!). I really need to find a copy of this book.

    How long are your Saturday runs? I wish hubby would run with me, but he hates it. And I've thought about running with Laura, but she would kick my butt then laugh at me. Haha--ok, maybe not laugh at me, but perhaps giggle a bit. :P

  6. I am not a runner but this does sound like a good book. :)

  7. Trish,

    You should borrow Laura's copy, if she still has it. Maybe it would give you some ideas or at least make you feel better about the idea of Laura running off ahead of you. The author's running buddy just ran on ahead. I don't think of that as being a very good buddy, myself, but it made me feel better about one or the other of us walking or running faster/farther if we feel like it.

    We're no longer doing the Saturday runs, but the group is now up to 11-12 miles. We decided we didn't like running in town, so we're doing our own walks/runs in the park, where we don't have to worry about loose dogs and people lurking in doorways (even my husband thought that was too creepy) and we're still stuck at 6 miles but still exercising, so we're happy. What's the problem with your feet? I have plantar fasciitis. It's a total nuisance.

    The most I've ever run is 7 miles but that was in 2002. I can still only run by minutes instead of miles.


    It's a really fun read.

  8. you point out counting by minutes rather than miles and I have just made the switch (really noticed yesterday). We are doing this 100 mile challenge at work so if I'm running, my distance counts more than the time. Walking/running inside or out is mile for mile. Any other type of workout such as step or biking or weights, etc. 1 mile per 20 minutes. For example, yesterday I ran 1 mile then did a 60 minute step/weight class so I totaled out at 4 miles. BUTTTTTT, the point is, I used to watch the clock when I ran but now I'm so focused on getting my three running miles that I don't care about time as much. 30 minutes goes by so much quicker than it used to and the only reason I look at the time is to beat my previous time (yes, very competitive Trish). :)

    I have bunions. Correction--I have one bunion and one removed 10 years ago. My operated foot doesn't bother me hardly at all but the other one is awful. Of course, I say all this while I'm wearing 3.5 inch heels. :P When I was a baby I was really pigeon-toed and had to wear "magic" shoes with the bar in between while I slept. I think a lot of my feet problems and how I walk stems from my being pigeon-toed as a child. My "bad" foot rolls in when I walk and after 3 miles I'm done (even doing step yesterday was pretty painful after 60 minutes). Need to get it operated on, but it is my driving foot. :(

    LOL--probably WAY more than you wanted to know. I'm in a chatty mood!

  9. Trish,

    Goodness, that's confusing. LOL We're pretty much back to basics because I was having so much trouble with asthma, for a while -- trying to stretch out the length of our running intervals. Sometimes, we don't bother looking at the clock/timer and I do think it goes a little faster, then. We just run till we can't go any farther. LOL Let me tell you, running in a misty rain when it's pouring right behind you and you don't want to get soaked so you're hurrying back to the park entrance is very, very motivating!!! My longest stretch was run like that, last week.

    Oh, bunions. I haven't had that problem. I did have a foot that turned inward, though -- I refused to wear corrective shoes as a kid, so I was still spraining my ankle in my 20's. Then, I read somewhere that bones stay soft well into adulthood and can still be corrected. With that in mind, I started forcing my bad foot straight. It was really painful, but it only took about a year to get the foot to naturally fall straight. If you're up to that, it's cheaper and easier than surgery, but it still hurts.

    I love it when you're in a chatty mood. :)

  10. This sounds like a good book. I am terrible at running, jogging or anything like it. My lungs just aren't in shape to run for any distance (halfway around the track and then I have to walk).

    We're thinking about getting a treadmill though so that I can work on running further without walking in between. Part of the problem is that I would love to go out jogging but I have my kids with me (too big for strollers, too small to be jogging themselves, and they don't know how to ride bikes yet).

    Also, I live in Oregon, so it's always rainy, and I have a hard time getting motivated to run in the rain (that would be when I actually have time away from the kids - I'd rather be reading or going out to the movies, etc.).

    I've got so many good excuses. :) So, I'm hoping a treadmill will get me in good enough shape that when my kids are bigger I can actually go out and run. Maybe someday even run a mini-marathon with my husband or something. I'm not ready to even imagine committing to a full marathon at this point.

  11. Alyce,

    It takes time to build up lung capacity and muscle. When I first decided I wanted to be a runner (in my early 20's), it took me about 7 months to work my way up to about 4 miles of running. Taking your time to build up helps prevent injuries, so you'll want to go slowly. Most marathon training programs start out pretty easy, for that reason -- to allow your muscles and bones to strengthen before you begin to work on the running part. The book is good. I'm going to read another one, soon, so I'll compare the two and see which one I think is likely most helpful for beginners.

    I understand the difficulty of trying to fit in exercise with little ones. My husband travels and I was in charge for many years. We couldn't find a reliable babysitter, so I just didn't get to go anywhere without children -- unless they were at school (since I was a stay-at home).

    We've thought about getting a treadmill, too, although it would be tough finding a place to put it because our house is quite small. I used to get Runner's World magazine and from that I know that some people train for marathons entirely on a treadmill. So, it's every bit as good as outdoor running and you don't have to deal with rain. The only thing I dislike about treadmills is that they're boring. I could never stand the treadmill at our YMCA because I like movies and they had the TVs tuned to soap operas, talk shows and news -- ugh -- and there were commercials. When I exercise (on Nordic Track or recumbent bike) at home, I always pop in a movie. During commercials, I go nuts -- no regular TV for me!

    I hope you do get a treadmill, actually. I've always wanted one. We got the Nordic Track because we just don't have the space, but a treadmill would be better, IMHO.

  12. Yay! I'm so glad you liked this and found it to be as funny as I did! One of the things I liked so much was just reading about someone else out there who had the same kinds of problems with running as I do!

    To correct Trish, I am a terrible runner. I have to really really force myself to ever get past the 3 mile mark. I'm pretty slow too. But, I keep making myself run because if I don't, I'll gain weight...yuck! I've run a couple of half marathons, and I know I should run one this year, but I just can't seem to get up the willpower to start training again. glad you read this, and good luck with your training! I think you should write some posts about how you are doing...I'm guessing they would be pretty entertaining! :)

  13. Laura,

    I'm sooooo glad you recommended this book. I absolutely loved it for exactly the same reasons you mentioned -- it's hilarious and it makes you feel a little less alone with all those aches. My biggest problem seems to be fighting the low-potassium issue. Since my potassium level crashed in 2002, I've always had trouble getting back to running.

    A half-marathon is terrific! I can't convince myself there's any value to running 26 miles, no matter how hard I try. Maybe if it meant a trip somewhere fantastic . . . but, probably not. I think we're going to skip right over our half-marathon in June and see if we can do a half rather than a full marathon by October. If not, there's always next year, but yeah -- I just love the feeling of having muscles and being able to eat foods I like.

    I've got a blog called Runfoolery but I'm not writing on it much. So far, I don't feel like there's been much to say.

  14. Don't believe Laura--I can't imagine that she truly is a horrible runner. And I know she's faster than I am! :P

  15. Trish,

    Bookfool is giggling, covering her eyes and saying, "You both run faster than me! You're both brilliant! Truce???" :)

  16. I just asked you about this one! So sorry I sent the email before I caught up on my RSS reader. I'm set to start training for my triathalon and this should be helpful. Thanks!

  17. Lisa,

    That's okay! I'm glad you found it! I'm reading Slow Fat Triathlete, now. It's funny, also. :)


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