Joe A, Marathon Blogger

Joe A., our most experienced full marathon runner, shares more on his background and how he’s preparing for race day.

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Joe A.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

I’m 49 years old and came back to running a little bit later in life. I ran 5K and 10K races when I was in my late teens. While I’ve always done some sort of activity to stay in shape, I really got back into running after moving to our home in Crafton back in 2007. It started out with a couple of miles on the treadmill at the local gym after dropping my kids off to school each day. Then the gym I went to closed for good just about the time I realized that I really didn’t enjoy running on a treadmill. It’s fine for a couple of miles but that got old as I increased the distance I was running. There are a lot of great things about running but at the top of the list is the fact that all you need is a good pair of shoes (very important!) and some motivation.

A few weeks ago I ran the New Orleans Rock and Roll Marathon. I began training for that race back in October 2014. The plan I followed called for four days of running per week with some core strengthening exercises on two of the off days and a day of rest. I wanted to try something different from what I’d done to prepare for my previous four marathons. Those plans all called for three days per week of running. There were no core exercises involved. While I’d done fairly well, I wanted to see if I could improve my time, and maybe more importantly my enjoyment over the 26.2 miles of the marathon. Also, I figured that if I were stronger to begin with then the recovery period would be quicker.

Since I just finished the last race I’m going to take a break for a week or two. I’ve got some soreness in my right knee. I think it’s the typical “runner’s knee” injury. I’ve been stretching and icing it in order to keep on training for New Orleans. Now that the race is over I’m going to rest it.

The day after the race I started feeling some discomfort in my left foot. It’s something new that didn’t bother me during the race or even while walking around that afternoon and evening. I’m not 100% sure what’s causing the discomfort so I made an appointment to see my primary care physician, who is also an orthopedic specialist. Instead of checking Facebook and playing Words with Friends on my phone, I spent the time in the airport on my way home looking up what the problem might be based on my symptoms. We’re all internet MD’s, right? Haha!

Seriously, it’s important to me to have a good relationship with my doctor. Training for and running a marathon is a serious undertaking. I see little sense in spending hours or days worrying about this pain or that when a simple exam will reveal what the problem is.

Like I said above, injuries are always a challenge. Everyone has different tolerance for pain. While I’m not in any way saying that I’ve got a large threshold for pain, I will say that like most runners I’ve got a certain determination to stick to my training plan no matter what. This can be counterproductive. There are nagging pains that you can run through and then there are things that require decreased intensity or rest.

The first marathon I ran was Pittsburgh in 2013. I had a good race, meeting my goal time of 3:50. I was anxious to maintain my fitness because I’d worked so hard to get to that point. Despite the pain in my knees, I started back into training without any rest period. Eventually I had to take a break just to give myself a chance to feel better.

I’ve run five marathons in the last two years and I’ve learned some things along the way. One thing that’s clear is that what I actually know is a lot less than what I don’t know. So what I’ve done is to join a club. I joined the Steel City Road Runners, but really any of the clubs in our area offer great resources like coaches, training plans, and other runners to train with.

Interested in how others approach marathon training? View the introduction blog post from this series to meet all of our bloggers in the virtual running group.

Are you training for this year’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon or any of the other events? How do you prepare for distance running? We’d love to hear from you!

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