From triathlons to marathons, endurance sports have become a popular challenge for celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Oprah Winfrey. Of course it helps to have a top-notch coach to guide you. Wes Okerson has trained and run with some of Hollywood's brightest stars, including Katie Holmes, who he prepared for last year's New York City Marathon. He tells us how he gets his famous clients ready for race day and what you can do to accomplish your training goals.
Q. How do you prepare clients for marathons?
A. "I've dealt with people who have little or no experience in long distance running, which is the first challenge. When you prepare for a marathon, it's mainly about building up mileage to a point where your body—and mind—can handle 26 miles. After a couple months of increasing your mileage, I recommend doing two short runs (4 to 5 miles), two intermediate runs (6 to 8 miles) and one long run (10 to eventually 18 miles) per week. Completing 40 to 50 miles a week puts you on track."
Q. What suggestions do you have for fitting training into a busy schedule?
A. "Mapping out a schedule each week is crucial. Pick a day of the week when you know you're not busy and make that when you'll do your long run. Sunday is usually good because people are off from work. Make an effort to fit in short or intermediate runs before or after work, but be sure to space them out so you're not running late in the evening and then early the next morning. You want to give your body about 24 hours to recover between sessions."
Q. What do you say to those who don't think they can finish a marathon?
A. "It is doable. For first-timers, running 26 miles sounds like an eternity, but your body gets to the point where running becomes second nature. If you're healthy and willing to train for it, you can do it."