It seems like just yesterday that I started this journey toward the Akron Half Marathon, yet in less than three weeks I’ll take to the National Interstate 8k course to complete the first race of Akron’s summer trilogy.

With coaching from Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series Race Director Brian Polen, I’ve gone from walking a mile to run/walking six miles. Earlier today, I put in a 5k workout in honor of Global Running Day.

Until today, I hadn’t run on two consecutive days, and my legs didn’t let me forget about it. The first half of the 3.1 mile workout went well, but I could tell that doing the whole thing without walking any of it was going to be a challenge. I wound up having to walk about a half mile in all.

While the workout didn’t quite go as I planned, I couldn’t help but think back to February when I did that very first mile walk. At that time, I would have called you crazy if you said I would be doing anything close to a 5k. It’s amazing how far you can come with a little time and a little effort.

Stick and Ball Sport

Yes, you read that right. Sticks and balls do have a place in running.

A few weeks ago after putting in my first six mile run, I noticed a sharp pain in my right lower leg that wouldn’t go away. When I was sitting or standing it didn’t hurt, but anytime I tried to walk it was painful. The issue didn’t go away as the days went on, so I wound up not running for nearly a week.

Eventually I met with Brian to talk through what was going on. He told me the pain in my shin was likely because the rest of my leg was tight. He suggested two pieces of recovery equipment that got me back running the very next day.

The Stick is exactly what the name suggests: A long, flexible stick with handles on each end. Eight plastic rings surround the stick and act as massagers. It's basically a rolling pin for tight, sore muscles. Along with a foam massaging ball called The Orb (apparently they don’t spend much time coming up with names for these things) and a plan to rotate shoes between the support shoes I was wearing with a more neutral pair, I was able to get back to my training program.

Three Weeks To Go

It seems like it has come up fast, but the National Interstate 8k and 1 Mile is three weeks from Saturday on June 30. Because I serve as the race announcer for that race, I’ll be running the course on Monday, June 25. For anyone looking to get a taste of the course before race day, the Blue Line Beginners are planning a test run on Saturday, June 16.

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"Slow down to go faster."

As a fan of auto racing, I've heard that phrase a lot. Don't be so aggressive on certain parts of the race track and your lap times will actually get faster. It turns out the same is true in running.

Over the last couple of weeks, Akron Marathon race director Brian Polen has been slowly adding more running to the run/walks in my training program. At first, I was running as fast as I could for the one minute at a time. Needless to say, "fast as I could" wasn't so fast by the end. For the first mile or so I felt fine, but after that I would notice my running pace falling off. By about the 1.5 mile marker, my walking pace was completely gone as well. As the two mile mark approached, I wasn't sure how I was going to get to the end of the workout.

It took a few times running myself into the ground to realize that I had better back off my pace a bit so I could make it as far as I was supposed to go. But once I did, not only did I feel better but I saw noticeable improvement in my overall pace.

Lt. Dan wasn't lying

In the film Forrest Gump, Lt. Dan reminds Forrest and Bubba about the importance of socks. He was talking about the Vietnam War, of course, but I've found that socks really do make a big difference in running too. When I was trying on shoes at Vertical Runner of Wooster, I couldn't get anything to fit right and not slide around too much until I had on compression socks. There are a bunch of different brands, but the best ones are designed to help people avoid blisters and wick away moisture. The ones I bought cost around $15 per pair, but it was worth it. 

Better with friends

In talking to people about my plan to run the Akron Half Marathon, I frequently hear things like "how can you run for that long by yourself? won't it get boring?"

I can't answer that question yet, but I can tell you it's a lot more fun when you get to run with other people. I did my longest workout yet (3.5 miles) with Brian Polen and Lauren Toole from the Marathon staff. Being able to talk with people during the run helped me forget how much work was ahead of me, and I actually felt better than I had at the end of most of my runs in spite of the distance.

Not too late to start

If you still want to get involved with this year's Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series but haven't started training yet, that's okay! This is week one of the Blue Line Beginners program for 2018, and the workouts consist only of 15-20 minute walks, run/walks, or runs. The group will be meeting Saturday at 8:00 a.m. at Botzum Trailhead, 2928 Riverview Road, Akron, for their weekly group run. Members of the Akron Marathon staff are usually in attendance, and there are frequent guest speakers to address various topics related to running.

Follow Jasen's journey on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Strava. For more information or to register for the races, go to www.akronmarathon.org.

Published in Jasen Sokol

I'm well into my second week of training for the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series. While I'm nowhere near ready to hit the Blue Line yet, I've already made a few observations:

  • The right pair of shoes helps. Brian Polen, the race director for the Akron Marathon and my running coach, brought me to his store to get fitted for a proper pair of running shoes. At Vertical Runner of Wooster, Brian was able to watch how I walk and recommend shoes that would correct my stride. That said, if you have a pair of athletic shoes already you have all you need to get started. Which brings me to my next point...
  • Just get moving. I had to tell myself that a few times this week. To say the weather this week was less than ideal is an understatement. I've only had one workout so far that didn't involve snow or ice. It's been in the 30s or lower for most of the last week. But if you wear a few layers, the cold isn't so bad. I figure I'll be missing this weather when it's 90 degrees in August.
  • Start slow. Slow and steady might not win the race, but I'm just trying to get to the finish line so I'm fine with that! I have yet to do a workout that actually involves running. Instead, Brian has me doing brisk walks at increasing distances. Despite that, my pace is still getting quicker each time out.
  • We're lucky to be in Akron. I live halfway up a pretty steep hill, so my options for places to run close to home that don't involve a ridiculous climb are a bit limited. Luckily we have the Towpath Trail, the jogging trail in the Sand Run Metro Park, and a bunch of other great places to run in Akron that are not only less hilly, but also absolutely beautiful.

We're less than 200 days away from the Akron Marathon, but that doesn't mean it's too late to get started on your own Blue Line journey! One of the cool things about the Akron Marathon Race Series is that they have different distances at different races throughout the summer, so if a half marathon or a relay leg seems too daunting you can start with something as short as a 1 mile and work your way up from there.

The week ahead: Two more brisk walks at longer distances... hopefully with less snow!

Follow Jasen's journey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Strava. For more information or to register for the races, go to www.akronmarathon.org.

 

Published in Jasen Sokol