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Runnin’ down a dream

It’s a little late to start training for this year’s Boston Marathon, but here’s how to get in shape for next year.

It is the pinnacle of fitness, endurance and achievement. In the coming days, the greatest runners in the world will descend on Boston for the 115th running of the Boston Marathon on April 18.

For every elite runner in the field, there will be thousands more running for personal pride, the culmination of training and sacrifice to reach what was once considered an impossible goal.

But with the proper training and support, those 26.2 miles can be among the easiest steps in the process.

Emerson’s cross-country coach, John Furey, offers a six-step guide for taking the first steps toward competing in — and completing — the Marathon, a process Furey says amateur runners should be implementing now to prepare for 2012.

The steps

» Start slowly. “Let the body gradually adapt to the impact,” Furey said. “Begin with a walk or jog maybe three times per week, with initial amounts of running only 15 minutes.”

» Get proper, comfortable shoes.

» Prevent injuries. “It’s the single most important piece of the training puzzle. Have a good, solid strength-training program. This [will] prevent running related injuries [and] improve performance.”

» Listen to your body. “Give your body a break from daily pounding. Adjust the plan as the season goes on based on how your body feels.”

» Diet properly. “Every pound over ideal weight costs 2.5 seconds per mile.”

» Build up to the 26.2. “Mix in some races — 5K, 10K, half-marathon — throughout the season to help set goals and also assist in determining what your predicted marathon pace may be.”

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