Diary of a Fit Patriot: A Journey Into Running a Marathon
By: Alison M. Hall, MS, CPT
High School Me could not run. In gym class we had to “jog the straights and walk the curves” of the track, and I struggled to do that. I was active, I played a few recreational sports, but I couldn’t imagine running just for the sake of running. I felt that way for a long time. I even tried multiple times to go for a run, but I never lasted long. Of course it didn’t help that I had no idea what I was doing, had the wrong shoes, and no plan.
One day it all changed. I still had no plan and still had the wrong shoes, but I ran and didn’t hate it. I went out again and didn’t hate it again. I kept at it and made it a little farther each time. I decided I wanted to run the Race for the Cure, so I worked my way up to running 3.1 miles. I finished my first 5K feeling great about myself. I was a runner! I continued to run relatively short distances and ran the Race for the Cure again. My friend saw me running, and she asked if I wanted to run the Army Ten Miler with her. “Um, no!” was my first response. She kept at me, and finally she convinced me to register. We still hadn’t discovered the magic of a training plan or proper running shoes—we just gradually increased how long we ran. When race day came, we decided we would not take walk breaks other than for water stations. We met our goal and sprinted to the finish line. On the way home, we said things like “I couldn’t have done it without your motivation” and “maybe, just maybe I could do a half marathon but never a marathon.”
Fast forward two years to the start line of the Marine Corps Marathon. Yep, that’s me, about to run my first marathon. After that Army Ten Miler race, I kept on running, and I joined two different running groups. It turns out marathon running is contagious. Someone starts talking about marathons on a run, and thoughts go to “could I really do that?” Yes. If you are physically able, have a doctor’s clearance, and can put the time in to train properly, you really can do that. I researched training plans, found a good novice one, and went for it. I finished my first marathon and went on to run four more. Since my last marathon I’ve run 20 shorter distance races, but next year, as long as I can keep injury free, I’m going to finish marathon number six.
As for my friend, it took her a little longer to get bit by the marathon bug, but she joined me in marathon number 5, and she’s run a few on her own since. How did I get her to finally give in? I agreed to do an IronMan 70.3 (half iron distance) triathlon with her. I’ll write about that crazy adventure later this month!
If you want to start running, there are many great plans out there. Couch To 5K is one of the most popular. It is a 9-week program that starts you with a mix of running and walking and gets you to running the full 5K (3.1 miles). Once you’re hooked, if running a marathon appeals to you, go for it. Seriously, you can do it!