I have a dream...

...to run in a marathon, but how do I train properly?

Tel Aviv Marathon, Yarkon Park 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv Marathon, Yarkon Park 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I am a 35-year-old man and like to walk, but I have a dream of participating in this year’s Tel Aviv Marathon on March 15. As I don’t have experience, I wanted to hear from an expert how to prepare myself for the 10-kilometer race.
B.T., Tel Aviv 
Ran Shilon, chief trainer of Get Ready run training groups, replies: If you train properly, you are likely to complete the race successfully even if it’s the first time you’ve participated. The most important factors in training are physical fitness (how many bodily systems are ready for the effort); technique (in a 10-kilometer race, you begin to see the difference among participants in this regard about two kilometers from the starting line.
Efficient runners glide along, but those with a poor technique huff and puff); tactics (how to invest time in training and how to compete, where to be conservative and where to start giving all you’ve got); and mental strength (how many risks you are willing to take in training and while running and how much to leave your comfort zone).
Consult a sports medicine expert or your doctor to ensure that you are physically able to go through with it. Most runners are unaware of the complexity of training for a marathon and just concern themselves with extending their distances and running times.
First, you must prepare your body for the physical effort by strengthening not only leg muscles but also shoulder muscles and others in the body. This is important, but many avoid this because they don’t enjoy muscle building. But this is the most important part of marathon training.
To strengthen muscles and improve stability, stand on one foot at a time for 30 to 60 seconds about three to five times for each foot. This can be performed as many times as you like. Films showing this exercise can easily be found on the Internet. You can also swim, ride a bike or do other sports to raise muscle strength.
To improve your aerobic system – the internal burning of energy and the supply of oxygen and glycogen to the muscle – you must eat well and improve your heart function, blood circulation and breathing. One doesn’t have to run rapidly at high gear for this, just run slowly and steadily.
To improve your breathing, run with your mouth closed and breathe through the nose. Since the amount of air coming through the nose is limited, this training strengthens the breathing muscles. It can also improve the abilities of people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
It’s important to know how to ensure that your feet land properly. You should not land on your heel; rather, land on the cushion behind your toes. Ideally, you should not hear the impact at all. The best running pace, for professionals and amateurs and whatever their height, is 180 steps per minute. If you want to run more slowly, shorten the distance between paces.
Most new runners prefer a much shorter pace, but this makes their running less efficient and “noisier.”
You should run three times a week to prepare yourself, but if you can add one or two more, even if they’re short, you will benefit. If you run three times weekly, two of the workouts can be slow, calm and long, while one should be short and speedy. During the last two or three weeks before the race, you should run the opposite – one long and slow run and two faster ones. This enables runners to divide their exertion and learn how fast they can really run successfully. Also add one or two muscle-strengthening exercises of 20 to 30 minutes per week.
The Tel Aviv Municipality and the Adidas company are for the second year holding Get Ready group training programs for first-time and experienced runners.
You can join and participate at no cost. The lessons are being held at the Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv Port and at parks in Herzliya, Ra’anana, Beersheba, Netanya and others.
I stayed in a youth hostel recently and, a week later when I got home, I noticed little red insect bites on my back. I was told they were bedbugs. Are these creatures common in Israel, and what can I do to disinfect myself, my bedclothes and anything else? 
R.A., Ashkelon 
Dr. Kosta Mumcuoglu of the Hebrew University’s parasitology department replies: It is likely that we will hear more and more about bedbugs in Israel, as these parasites are becoming more common around the world, including Israel and other Western countries. Lately, I had a phone call from a woman who said she was so desperate about the bedbug infestation in her house that she had considered suicide. She was suffering so much, and treatments by exterminators were not effective.
But she is fine now after accepting my advice.
Cities and towns with many foreign tourists and a heterogeneous local population are more susceptible to bedbug infestations. The tiny brown bugs hide in cloth and small cracks in wooden furniture (mainly beds), so be careful when buying second-hand clothing and furniture.
The bugs feed on human blood and like warmth. As they sleep during the day and are active at night, they feed on people sleeping in their beds. And like mosquitoes, they bite and inject their saliva, which contains chemicals that hide pain and keep the blood flowing.
Second-hand clothing should be stored in a plastic bag after purchase and then popped into the washing machine, with water as hot as can safely be used to prevent harm to the cloth, and then left in the sun or put in a hot clothes dryer to kill the bugs.
Before using second-hand furniture, a suitable insecticide must be sprayed in addition to a varnish or sealant or new paint to prevent any bedbugs from emerging. When you go to a (usually cheap) youth hostel or hotel, check the mattress, sheets and blankets for signs of the small bugs, or for bloodstains.
Don’t stay on the premises if you find such evidence.
At home, to get rid of bedbugs, get assistance from a registered pest-control specialist and wash, dry clean or vacuum cloth.
Learning that you have been bitten by bedbugs is psychologically and physically very unpleasant, as exemplified by the extreme reaction of the woman who contemplated suicide. Bedbug bites are very unpleasant and can last up to 10 days. If over-thecounter creams to treat itching do not improve your situation, go to your personal physician or dermatologist for a more effective prescription product. The ultimate goal, however, is to get rid of the bugs.   
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to jsiegel@jpost.com, giving your initials, age and place of residence.