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Training for long race paying off

West end perspective

August 5, 2012
JOHANNA?BOYLE - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

There are 28 days left until Sept. 1.

That means roughly a month until the Ringside Fitness Marquette Half Marathon. And it's starting to get rough indeed.

I started training at the end of May in preparation for running the 13.1-mile race with really only a vague idea of what I was getting myself into. Sure I'd been running for about a year at that point and I'd done some races, but the only way to know what you feel like after running 13 miles is to go ahead and do it.

Not that I've gotten that far yet.

My most recent long run - and likely the one I am completing today as you read this column - is a loop on the Marquette bike path that I originally thought was 10 miles. After running it for two long runs in a row, I double checked the distance using a run mapping feature I found online and discovered that loop is actually 10.94 miles, which simultaneously explains why it was so hard to get through and makes me feel much better about my time.

If I can run almost 11 miles in 2 hours and 9 minutes, that means I should be able to do the full half marathon in just under 3 hours, provided my pace stays the same. I didn't start my training with a solid time goal in mind, but I was kind of fantasizing about finishing in two-and-a-half hours.

Even knowing I won't make that - knowing I'm not a fast runner isn't news to me - I'm feeling increasingly confident I will finish.

The trick is to get lost in my own thoughts so I don't notice that I'm running. Unfortunately, I don't like running with earphones in, because it makes me feel too cut off from what's going on around me, so music isn't an option. But there's still a lot to do to keep mentally occupied around Marquette, like admiring the lake or staring in awe at the runners who pass me looking like their easy run pace is double what my flat-out sprint is.


As much as this training plan has been about gradually building up the time and distance I'm able to run, it's about more than just putting one foot in front of the other.

Especially now that I'm running what can be considered long distances, training has transitioned from just the time I start running to include the time that I don't spend running as well.

In addition to running, I'm also training how I eat, making sure I have enough fuel to get me through long runs and eating enough to recover afterwards. Keeping hydrated is also not as simple as just guzzling half a bottle whenever I feel like it, as too much water makes me feel just as gross as not enough.

It's a lot about paying attention to how I'm feeling while trying to ignore how tired my legs are.

But it will all be worth it when I stand at the starting line knowing that I did everything I could to finish what I started, when I can keep going even though I'm tired, when I make it up that last hill around Presque Isle Park and know it's all downhill from there.

The best part of all this though, apart from the guilt-free eating of copious amounts of ice cream post race, is knowing I'm capable of doing something I previously couldn't.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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