Toledo native pens marathon training guideWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | email@example.com
David Levine made a lot of mistakes training for his first marathon. Now he helps others avoid his errors.
The Toledo-area native is a certified marathon coach who recently co-authored his first book, “The Complete Idiots Guide to Marathon Training.”
“There are so many things about endurance athletics that are completely contrary to what one might think,” said Levine, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I can honestly say I was an idiot about everything. Oh God, there were so many things. I know people who have done 20 marathons and they are still completely ignorant of how to train for a marathon.”
Levine got involved with the book project through his day job in the finance department at Sony Pictures Entertainment, when co-author Paula Petrella, a friend from Sony and fellow runner, needed a coach to address the technical aspects.
The lessons from his first marathon experience were the start of the training program Levine developed, which appears in the book.
The method, backed by the success of college and elite runners who follow it, emphasizes logging weeks of low heart rate, low-intensity miles before ramping up workouts.
“The biggest mistake is people think they need to beat themselves up to do a marathon. You need to build yourself up, not beat yourself up,” Levine said. “If you find yourself struggling mentally, something is physiologically wrong. It’s really just your mind telling you you started wrong.”
Starting slowly builds an important physiological foundation most runners never get, Levine said.
“First you have to become efficient, then start raising the bar,” Levine said. “Speedwork later in the season is essential and of crucial importance, but you’re never going to be as fast or as strong until you have the aerobic, low heart rate base first.”
Levine said most people have the ability to run a marathon.
“I could take almost anyone and get them to a finish line,” he said. “The only reason I say it’s not for everyone is people tend to beat themselves up over it or just get bored with it or say it’s just not for me. It’s more of a psychological thing rather than a physical or physiological thing.”
The 55-year-old Levine, who graduated from Sylvania High School and the University of Cincinnati, was in college before he started distance running and was 41 when he ran his first marathon, prompted by a former girlfriend.
“She ran one and stopped; I kept going. I could help her a lot now,” said Levine, who has now run 13 marathons with plans for No. 14 this fall. He has also completed three Iron Man races — a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride followed by a marathon.
He has come a long way from his early mistakes.
“I had brand new, very nice shoes,” Levine said of his first marathon. “I had worn them in, like I had heard, but then I get to starting line and everyone had the dirtiest, torn, worn, blood-stained, loathsome shoes and mine were beaming white.”
He also realized the shoes were tied too tightly just as the signal came to start the race. Not wanting to lose time, he started running anyway.
Crossing the finish line hours later, he had tears in his eyes — because he had accomplished his goal but also because his feet were throbbing.
“I love the simplicity of filling my lungs with air and breathing and feeling alive,” Levine said. “Crossing a finish line is not the easiest, but it’s the quickest victory you can have in life. And I love the camaraderie. There is such a community in running and it’s a fun community to be part of.”
His No. 1 rule is to have fun.
“When you find yourself saying ‘Oh my God, when is this going to end?’ you are going too far, too fast, or are doing the wrong workout,” Levine said. “Rule No. 2 is if you’re not having fun, fix it so you’re having fun.”
He never tires of witnessing lives transformed by crossing the marathon finish line.
“They get the idea in their head that if I could do this thing I never thought I could do before, what are the other things I thought I never could do? And suddenly they are doing them,” Levine said. “They get a new heightened sense of anything’s possible.”