The instant I decided to run the Deseret News marathon I felt better about myself. The idea that I - a non-runner - would undertake the self-improving project of preparing for and accomplishing the marathon helped my self-esteem.

It is an accomplishment I have always envied and had planned to do "sometime" in my life. But this year I looked over my summer calendar - and the growing love handles around my middle that aren't even functional for a single guy like me - and decided that now is the time.The first time I laced up my almost-new running shoes and hit the pavement, I could feel my self-image rise. Setting a goal and working toward it gave my life an immediate boost. I suppose the day this column hits the newsstands, and Mom and others see my resolution in print, I will have taken another step toward that commitment.

I am physically active in sports, including basketball, indoor soccer and softball - but none of those prepare a body for the marathon. So I knew I needed to hit the library and do some homework as much as I needed to hit the streets to do some roadwork.

The more I read the more I wanted to read. There are lots of opinions and plans of attack and training schedules, and I wasn't sure which was right for me. I wanted to push myself, but I also wanted to avoid being injured by the sudden increased pounding that my ankles, knees and other joints would soon be taking.

The only way to prepare the body for long miles is to run long miles, but the real question was how many and how soon? I decided that my body would be my guide, and I began a routine of playing more soccer and stretching. Along the way I decided to eat better, to sleep better and to plan my days bet-ter.

Using information from my research, I started with one to five miles on my short runs, depending on how much time I had and how much time had passed since I last ran. On Saturdays, I planned to do something more and push for as many as six to 10 miles at the start of my program, gradually moving the distances up.

Mainly, I would listen to myself and see how I felt. Pain was to be expected, but damage to my body could not be tolerated.

What I didn't plan on was soccer temporarily damaging my ankle and setting me back. Not wanting the injury to linger I decided to totally rest it, using ice, anti-inflammatories and elevation . . . but I couldn't resist playing soccer again.

Wouldn't you know it - I reinjured the darned hoof again. So, suddenly I was faced with two months to prepare, resting a bum foot, with not many miles behind me and vacation scheduled at the wrong time.

Still, I am determined to work harder and faster, and I am feeling the beneficial side effects of working toward a goal. The smallest tastes of success have been sweet.

There are some who say I have taken on too large a task, that I should try the 10K on the same day.

They could be right.

But I like to remember the words of George Eliot: "Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds."

I want the marathon.