Friday, October 31, 2008

"Run Forest, Run"

As some of you long time readers know, I do a lot of running outside of soccer. I'm not a great runner, but I think I have very good fitness. What I mean is I'm not going to win many races (although I did win my age group in a duathlon last year!) but I'm very fit and I really enjoy running and cycling. This summer, I decided I really wanted to try to improve my running, so I registered for a 1/2 marathon in Philadelphia. A good friend of mine signed up as well. I found myself a training schedule on the web and followed the program pretty closely. We did well in the Philadelphia event, finishing in just over 2 hours. Again, we are not talking about any world records here, but I was pretty happy with that time. If you've never done an event like this, I encourage you to consider it. Not only is the concentration on running great for your referee fitness, but these events can be great fun as well! We had a great time!
After finishing the 1/2 marathon, I had all this fitness and nothing to do with it, so I did the natural thing: I signed up for a full marathon! Yes, I must have been out of my mind. On November 15th, I'll be running the Suntrust Richmond Marathon.
For those of you that don't know much about marathon training, most programs are 15-20 weeks in length and involve some sort of regular increase in mileage up to about 3 weeks before the event. One then tapers their mileage to allow the body to heal from training and rest for the upcoming effort. Most marathon training schedules have you peak at a long run of 20 miles. I did my 20+ mile run last weekend. Being complete honest, it was easily the hardest thing I've ever done, although I managed to average 9:45 per mile. I felt pretty good up to about 17 miles, but beyond that, it was tough. I've asked around and apparently this is completely normal for all first-time marathoners. Now I'm tapering my mileage for the event. I hope to get under 4:30, but in reality, I just want to finish it.
The biggest hurdle for most long distance runners seems to be trying to stay healthy. Injury is a real threat with any running endeavor and long distance running in particular. I struggled with shin splints for a few weeks. I've had persistent plantar fasciitis as well. Along with these issues, I've had all kinds of interesting aches and pains that come and go, but all of this seems to be part of being a real runner. As I taper for the event, many of these issues are starting to fade and I'm hoping all will go well in the marathon. Wish me luck! I'm probably going to need it.

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