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February 6, 2012

Training for the Honda LA Marathon: Runner learns walking now and then can be good

C.J. Lin, staff writer at the L.A. Daily News is training for her first marathon, the Honda LA Marathon.  You can follow C.J.’s day-to-day progress on her twitter page and watch for her stories in the Los Angeles Daily News.

By C.J. Lin,
Staff Writer Posted: 02/04/2012 06:13:27 PM PST
Updated: 02/04/2012 06:16:18 PM PST

“I don’t want to discourage you, but…” are not the words you want to hear from a marathon coach.

Still, that’s what the coach of a Pasadena marathon training group said to me when I told her that with 10 weeks left until the Honda LA Marathon, the farthest that I had run was eight miles. The group had already done 18.

I’d been out injured with plantar fasciitis since November, and the holidays hadn’t helped with my training.

But with a bit of time to heal, and with my resolve steeled by a new year, I was ready to get back into the game.

Still, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. So that’s when, at the suggestion of some readers, I decided to go with the run-walk method. (Please don’t judge me.)

Being new to this whole running thing, I hadn’t known that there was such a “method.” I always thought that you either ran the whole thing, or walked whenever you got tired.

With this approach, you take short walk breaks after running for a set amount of time, before you get so tired that you’re forced to walk. The technique actually helps runners record faster times because they don’t slow down at the end of a long run, according to Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 Olympic marathon team.

The method uses different sets of muscles, keeping the legs fresh and helping conserve energy, according to Galloway’s website.

“When a muscle group, such as your calf, is used continuously step by step, it fatigues relatively soon,” according to Galloway. “The weak areas get overused and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity.”

Louie Lopez, a Porter Ranch resident who, at 56, will be running his first marathon, is using the technique to cross the race off his bucket list.

Like me and most new runners, Lopez was facing a litany of aches and pains in his knees and hamstrings. And after a long run, it would take most of the week for him to recover, only for it to be time for another long run.

“I was to the point where I was really wondering if I could finish the marathon,” said Lopez, who slowed down to a pace of running for three minutes, and walking for one.

It’s done wonders for him. He ran 10 miles on his own on Thursday, came away with some light soreness, and will do a 13-miler this weekend.

“I’m able to complete the mileage for the day and not have any borderline injury,” Lopez said. “I recover much, much quicker.”

And for Bynette Hebert, who leads the fastest run-walk group – six minutes running, one minute walking – at L.A. Roadrunners in Westlake Village, the method also offers a mental break.

Instead of counting down to the 26th mile, it’s just a matter of looking forward to the next walk break.

“People don’t think they’re running straight through the entire thing,” said Hebert, of Agoura. “It’s not as stressful. It’s only six more minutes.

“It’s not like, `Oh my gosh, I have to keep this up for four more hours.”‘ And the group only finishes about five to 10 minutes after an 11:45 mile run group.

So for my first long run since my injury, I did 10 miles using a ratio of running for six minutes, and walking for one in January.

And I felt great.

I finished the 10 miles in a little more than two hours, and I think I surprised some of my companions that I was able to keep up. I definitely surprised myself. Hopefully, I surprised that coach.

But then last week, I tried the method during a 13-mile run with the L.A. Roadrunners – and I wanted to die.

That run was by far the worst of all the runs I had done. For the last five miles, all I wanted to do was walk the rest of the way. My soles hurt, my calf was cramping, I was cursing the sun, and every time I saw a pine cone, I would contemplate stepping on it and maybe breaking a leg so I wouldn’t have to run the damn marathon.

But I persisted. I had to walk mile 11, and part of 12 and 13, but I did it.

Afterwards, I found that my Achilles heel was bleeding because my shoe had been chafing, and my legs felt like they were imploding.

Maybe that coach wasn’t so far off. Still, I’m chalking it up to a stomach bug and working late during the week, stopping me from eating and training as well as I would have liked.

Discouraging? Definitely. Discouraged? Not yet.

January 24, 2012

Musings on Winter Marathon Training

Follow James’s day-to-day training on his Twitter and Facebook pages and read more of James and his exercise regimen at Chatelaine.
 
By, James Fell
 
See that picture on the left? That’s me running in -27ºC. I posted the pic to my Facebook fan page and the general consensus revealed in the comments is that I’m bat crap crazy!

I’m not though. At least, I don’t feel crazy. I suppose most crazy people don’t feel crazy, however.

Whatever, I just think of myself as motivated, and with good reason. First off, this is me walking the talk. In terms of talk, I have this article to live up to. Another part is the Theory of Planned Behaviour. I wrote this article for my Los Angeles Times column that explains how registering for a race can motivate you to train for it. Well, I’ve registered for the Honda LA Marathon this March 18th, so even if it’s hideously below zero, I need to get out there and train for it.

There is also the fact that I’ve gone public. This is called “extrinsic motivation.” What it means is: I’ve told you, my LA Times readers, and a bunch of friends that I’m running this marathon. My race time and story is going to be public knowledge for a few hundred thousand readers. Tell me that wouldn’t motivate you to train for a good time.

I’ll add a caveat here. I’m still experiencing some odd foot issues after torquing it on the pedal while riding my bike a few weeks ago. It has been somewhat interfering with my training, but fingers and other body parts are crossed that I’ll be able to recover soon. I’m taking rehabilitative steps.

Now, about this hideously cold run. It wasn’t bad at all for a couple of reasons. I’ve done this before, so I’m confident in my abilities, and I’ve got the gear. I know exactly what I need to wear to stay comfortable at that temperature.

It had been a while since I’d run in weather that cold and I forgot that you don’t want to wear sunglasses in such temperatures. One reason is that the metal frame conducts cold and will freeze the bridge of your nose, and the other is that within two minutes they fog up and you can’t see a damn thing. As a result, I whacked my head on a low-hanging branch and said, “To hell with the sunglasses!” I jammed them in a pocket next to my mylar space blanket that I take in case I fall and break something to prevent freezing to death before help arrives. And yes, I had my iPhone too. That’s how I took the picture.

Speaking of that photo, notice the frosty eyelashes? That was actually a good thing. I couldn’t wear sunglasses, but the frost coating did an amazing job of cutting out the sun’s glare. Excuse me if I think that’s cool.

January 23, 2012

Finally finding relief to knee injury, even without MRI

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/21/2012 06:13:54 AM PST

I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that I pretty much got brushed off by my insurance company when I wanted an MRI to diagnosis my knee.

The alternative (and by alternative, I mean cheapskate) plan was to throw me into physical therapy for a few weeks before reevaluating my injury to decide whether it was worth putting out the money for the MRI test.

If I were a professional athlete, the scenario would be a different story.

For one, I would have gotten an MRI on the same day I tweaked my knee – more than a month ago.

And who knows, maybe the scenario might have come along with some new groundbreaking medical treatment I could have been the first to try successfully.

But I’m obviously not a pro athlete, just a regular person.

And the last time I checked I didn’t see a medical express lane, so I’ve taken a service number and I’m waiting to be called.

Despite the runaround, I’ve managed to stay positive about my situation, and I’m definitely not out of the Honda L.A. Marathon yet.

I’m not a quitter – I’ve never been. I never will be.

And with my determination to remain optimistic, I’ve traded my training schedule for physical therapy sessions.

For nearly three weeks I’ve been going to therapy sessions twice a week. The hour treatment starts off with muscle stimulation therapy on my knee for 20 minutes, followed by ultrasound heat therapy and ending with several stretching and muscle strengthening exercises.

The therapy sessions are working so far. I have my good days and bad days with my left knee, but overall the recovery process is moving along steadily.

And finally, Jan. 18, I got an accurate diagnosis – without an MRI. According to my physical therapist, Patellar Tendonitis is the likely problem.

The discovery came after he examined my knee and realized I have a stiff knee.

Apparently, if you shift your knee cap towards the outside of your leg, it should be able to be flexible enough to move it over. Turns out that isn’t the case with my knee. My tendons are tight around the outside of my left knee, and they aren’t allowing it to budge much at all in that direction.

The discovery makes sense to me since I was twisting to my left when I got injured.

So now the specialized treatment begins. And oh man does it hurt!

I’ve really had to resist my natural instinct to slug my physical therapist – in a good way – as he’s doing treatment to loosen those stubborn tendons.

During last Friday’s treatment, I experienced the worst therapy pain I’ve had since I started going to physical therapy, but it’s been the most relief I’ve felt in my knee to date.

I appreciate all the treatment my physical therapist is doing since it’s now getting me closer to lacing up my running shoes again.

Another six to eight treatment sessions should do the trick, hopefully.

So I’ll be tough and endure all the pain.

January 12, 2012

Marathons and marriage

Follow James’s day-to-day training on his Twitter and Facebook pages and read more of James and his exercise regimen at Chatelaine.
 
By, James Fell

I’m finally going to do it. I’ve registered to run my first ever marathon in Los Angeles this coming March 18. Of course, I needed to discuss this with my wife first.

To begin, this trip is going to cost about a thousand bucks, and I never spend more than a hundred without talking to my wife about it first. (Good thing that for me the whole trip is tax deductible.) But there is also the time issue.

When it comes to physical activity coupled with family life, tag-team parenting is essential. Two years ago, the six months leading up to my wife getting her black belt in karate were brutal for her. She was going hardcore all the time and it ate up a lot of her free time. She had this whole eye of the tiger thing going on where she was intensely focused on achieving her goal. She also had bruises over the rippling muscles. It was…kind of sexy.

I was a workout widow during this time. A lot of extra family duties fell on me because she was doing so much training. It also cost quite a bit of money to pay for the extra training. I didn’t mind at all because I knew this was something really important to her.

I’m not saying it’s payback time. Good marriages are about give and take, it just happens to be my turn to take, and for the next couple of months I’ll be dedicating extra time to longer runs and my wife is going to have to pick up the family slack. She’ll also be single parenting for the three days I’m down in LA for the race.

She’s okay with this because she knows how important it is for me, and because we talked about it beforehand. I didn’t just make the decision to do this on my own. She was a part of the whole decision-making process like I was for her when she was working so hard for her black belt.

So, the simple message is: when you’re married running a marathon is a team effort. There is someone who is going to need to pick up your slack, so make sure they’re on board. You need to communicate desires clearly and make sure your significant other has your back.

There is a limit, however.

I’ve got quite a few items on my exercise bucket list and running a marathon is only one of them. In the next few years I want to finish an Ironman triathlon, which is a 3.86K swim, followed by a 180K cycle, THEN followed by running a marathon. It makes marathon training seem like 5K training. Also, I’m going to need to spend a couple thousand on a new bike and I’ll need swimming lessons. Right now I suck at swimming.

I know this is going to be a major imposition on my wife, which is why I’ll only ever do it once (so long as I finish the race within the required 17 hours). I was talking to someone whose best friend’s husband was training for his eighth Ironman, and her friend was getting mighty sick of it. She felt like she was barely married to this guy anymore because he was always out training.

Yes, for six months when I do that Ironman training my wife is going to have to do a lot of extra work to cover for me. But I will make her this promise: As long as I finish in 16:59:59 or better, I’ll never do another.

And I’ll pay you back when you go for that second-degree black belt.

January 11, 2012

Injury Setback Causes Dismay

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/03/2012 03:55:01 PM PST

Three weeks ago I injured my knee, which consequently brought my marathon training to a halt. A simple twisting movement temporarily landed me on the disabled list.

I thought the most frustrating part about the mishap was the fact it occurred while doing an every-day thing and not while running.

But the frustration of the injury is small potatoes – and something I’m OK with now – compared to dealing with the annoyance of trying to get an MRI and medical answers about what the heck I did to my knee.

It’s killin’ me.

I went to see a doctor four days after I hurt my knee on Dec. 10, and it wasn’t until this past Thursday when I saw a physical therapist.

Phone calls and visits to the medical office didn’t seem to speed up the paperwork. And neither did letting them know I’m in the middle of training for a marathon.

I guess I’ll have to deal with the system until I’ve jumped through enough hoops.

And I’m still currently waiting to get an MRI so I can get the actual results of my injury.

An initial examination during my first visit led the doctor to suspect a torn meniscus or torn ligament. I got some Ace bandage and crutches out of that visit. The crutches didn’t last more than a week before they got tossed aside. I didn’t expect much out of my first appointment other than to get the process going for an MRI. What a disappointment.

But after getting evaluated by a physical therapist, the extent of my injury got downgraded to possible ligament or meniscus strain.

That was good news and I thought, “Good, I got the evaluation out of the way. Now I can get scheduled for an MRI.”

Nope.

Even after all the wait, there’s still more hoops ahead in the form of six pre-prescribed physical therapy treatments that came along with the visit to the specialist.

Gee. I should at least get a sticker or, better yet, a lollipop for all of the hoop hoppin’ I’m doing … with one good leg, might I add.

It’s been a letdown, but I really appreciate my physical therapist’s attempt to improve the situation, starting with having me do only three therapy sessions before putting in an urgent request for an MRI instead of waiting to see how my knee reacts after all six treatments.

I got one treatment out of the way during my physical therapy evaluation and I have two treatment appointments scheduled for this week.

At that point, I’ll have to rely on the paperwork processing. Again. Hopefully I won’t have too many more obstacles to face.

I might have to buy some Air Jordans just in case ’cause Lord knows I’ll need all the height I can get if I gotta jump through anymore hoops.

December 21, 2011

Sometimes a journey can have a bump in the road

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/17/2011 06:15:29 AM PST

I’m running the distance, 14 miles and counting now. But the distance will have to be put on hold.

I hit a speed bump in my marathon journey and it’s slowing me down – at least for the moment.

I tweaked my knee. Here’s the inside scoop: it wasn’t while running. In fact, it had nothing to do with running. I got injured doing nothing out of the ordinary.

Last Saturday I was clearing out my bookshelf. As I had a few books in my hands, I twisted to my left to set the books down, and bam! Pain hit my left knee instantly. The pain put me down for the count by the time the evening rolled around. I hobbled around for the rest of the weekend and unfortunately had to miss my first half-marathon race.

I was tempted to still try to make it to the race, figured that wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.

A few days passed, I gave in and finally went to the doctor to get my knee examined. The doctor suspects I may have torn a ligament or the meniscus in my knee after an initial examination.

I’ll have to see a specialist and get an MRI to know the actual results of the injury.

So for now, crutches are my ticket to getting around until I see the doctor again this week. I can’t stand the crutches. Thanks to them, now I have to deal with pain in my palms, arms and shoulders… and my original knee pain.

It’s not all bad though. I’ve turned my work chair into my daily wheelchair while I’m in the newsroom. It’s way better than the crutches, and a lot more fun. I’m just this little blur rolling by.

Also, I’ve always wanted to ride around in one of those motorized scooters at the store. Now I have a legitimate excuse.

Despite the injury, I’m hoping it won’t keep me out of my training for too long.

No running is allowed, but I hope to eventually get some training done in a swimming pool just to get me going.

But before I do that, I gotta go out and buy a wetsuit. I have a pool at my house, but there’s no way I’m going to train at 6 a.m. in a freezing pool without being bundled up.

Until I find out more about my knee, I’m going keep a positive attitude. There’s still plenty of time before the Honda L.A. Marathon – 91 days to be exact.

After all I have to remember: Life’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

December 14, 2011

Runner’s body rebels, but there’s still hope for a strong finish

You can follow C.J.’s day-to-day training on her twitter page and watch for her stories in the Los Angeles Daily News.


By C.J. Lin, Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 12/11/2011 01:00:00 AM PST

One step forward, two steps back.

Unfortunately, that’s not very helpful when you’re trying to run a marathon.

For the last few weeks, my training has been at a literal standstill.

I did eight miles one freezing morning about a month after I started running, and I guess I pushed too much too soon. What I thought was a lingering soreness in the arches of my feet was actually plantar fasciitis, where the tissue connecting the heel to toes becomes inflamed.

Oh, and somehow I blew out my knees, too.

Unfortunately, (again) these types of injuries are inevitable for runners, whether they be newbies or veterans, said Rayna Drago, coach of the L.A. Roadrunners marathon training group in Westlake Village.

“Marathon running is a real shock to your body,” Drago said. “Even if you’ve been athletic, it’s just something different for your body to take in all those miles. Your body is just waking up and saying, `Hello, what are we doing here?”‘

The most common injuries are shin splints, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and some type of foot fracture, according to Dr. John Pagliano, a Long Beach sports medicine podiatrist.

And there’s more bad news – they’ll probably keep popping up for the first year for new runners.

“Your body’s just kind of got to learn what’s coming,” Drago said. “But it does subside after the first year.”

I don’t have a year. I only have three more months until the L.A. Marathon.

Suffice it to say, I’m getting pretty nervous. The finish line always seemed just a bit out of my reach, but even more so now.

But, I (and you) shouldn’t be discouraged, Drago said.

“It’s more frustrating than anything,” Drago said. “But it’s good when it happens at the beginning of training rather than at the end.”

For these types of overuse injuries, it doesn’t take too long to heal and get back up to speed, Drago said.

Be sure to ice anything that hurts and rest. But the key is to keep moving, just not in high-impact exercises.

“It’s also for your mental balance, that if you’re not running, at least I’m doing something,” she said.

Take a break by hopping on a bike, getting on the elliptical, going for a walk, swimming laps or even jogging in the pool, Drago said.

Take ibuprofen for the pain, and make sure you stretch sufficiently.

You’ll want to build up the muscles around the knee by doing strength training such as squats and lunges to help support you on those long miles, according to experts.

Pagliano recommends strength workouts three times a week on alternate days, which should include upper body strengthening.

And if the pain lingers for more than two weeks, that’s when you should go see someone.

Some tips to avoid running injuries include: shortening your stride, running on even surfaces, cross-training, and getting shoes fitted to your gait at a specialty running store, according to Runners’ World magazine.

So, there’s hope yet. I just have to take it easy for a couple of weeks.

“It’s possible to get right back out there and get back on it,” Drago said.

“And your body will just come along for the ride.”

December 7, 2011

A support system can go a long way

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/04/2011 06:37:06 PM PST

It’s official. I ran a half marathon. Well, a half marathon length (13.1miles) in my training, not a race.

But it still counts. It’s definitely a major breakthrough.

My training group even rewarded me with a chocolate medal of excellence for my accomplishment, which I ate shortly after showing it off.

Hunger and a desire for a chocolate treat are to blame. It was my first running award … darn!

My photo instincts managed to kick in just in time to snap a memorable photo before it was too late.

It’s the little things keeping me running. I’ve gotten so used to having a support group behind me through this experience.

And there’s nothing better than training with a group to top it all off.

Each Saturday, 200 of my closest running buddies from the Inland Empire L.A. Roadrunners and I run together, encouraging one another to keep up the training and stay focused on our marathon goal.

The program has become an automatic reliance to keep my training consistent. The extra bonuses with being a part of a running group are all the water stations that keep me hydrated along the routes and the complimentary treats table to enjoy after a long run with everybody.

I don’t have to worry about a thing when I stick with the group.

However, I faced a big hurdle when I had to complete the 13-mile-training. I had to do it alone and had no idea what to expect. Without my accustomed “safety net,” I prepared myself for a lonely half marathon in the Northern California countryside in the middle of nowhere.

It was a thrill knowing I’d reach the half marathon point, but nerve-wracking to face the reality I wouldn’t have anyone talk to or train with during the run.

It was a long run – a two hour and 52 minute run/walk to be exact (it took a little longer because I kept slowing down to take photos). But it flew by.

And the best part was I still had my support group interacting with me via social media. I got the pleasure of sharing my experience of running in the boonies with others.

It helps that I’ve somewhat learned how to tweet while running … when it’s safe.

My first half marathon experience was an unusual accomplishment in my training process. It never felt like the lonely 13.1 miles I expected.

So to all my running mates, followers and readers out there, thanks for your continued support in my endeavor.

I’m nearly halfway through it and at the rate I’m going, I think it’s safe to say I’m going to stick around to see how my adventure ends.

November 22, 2011

2 heart attack survivors share a new interest in running

C.J. Lin is a staff writer for the Daily News and is training with our newest LA Roadrunners program in Westlake Village. C.J. will be sharing her experience training for her first Honda LA Marathon, as well as featuring the runners from her group as they journey together to completing 26.2 miles.

By C.J. Lin, Daily News Staff Writer
Updated: 11/21/2011 07:34:02 PM PST

Six years ago, Barry Zweben and Michael Moline never thought they’d be training for their first-ever L.A. Marathon.

The two men, both now 54, became close friends through a shared, but unfortunate, set of circumstances: They both had heart attacks. Zweben underwent a quadruple bypass surgery and Moline had a six-way bypass surgery at Tarzana Medical Center.

“When they cracked open my chest, the pain was so bad,” said Moline of Agoura Hills. “I’m just afraid of ever having that pain again. I remember consciously, being in my hospital bed, really believing that I’m going to be living minute to minute. Slowly that evolved hour to hour.”

They met while at a cardiac rehab gym in Tarzana and have been working out four to five days a week since.

And now, they’re healthier than ever. What better time to tackle the daunting 26.2 miles of the marathon?

Which is probably why they’ve decided to take on the task after joking about it for years. Moline had always asked Zweben when he was going to do the marathon, and Zweben would laugh it off. But this year, Zweben told him: “I’ll do it if you do it.”

So the two train with the L.A. Roadrunners in Westlake Village on Saturdays. They’re not doing the race at a full-out run for fear of injury or overburdening their hearts. They’re heading into it with a fast walk that should see them finish in a little more than six hours.

Time isn’t an issue for them; it’s completing the race and getting a second chance to cross it off their bucket list.

That, and hopefully inspiring others as ambassadors for heart health by encouraging a good diet and lots of exercise.

“Our story might give others, who find themselves in similar circumstances, the encouragement to try this as well,” said Zweben, who’s from Chatsworth.

“I know what it’s like to rediscover what it felt like when I was younger,” said Moline. “It would allow me to tell people if you do this, you can run a marathon.”

They’re so lucky that they have each other to train with and then run the race with. The long miles zip by faster when you have someone to chat with, keep your mind off the pain and tell you to keep going because they know you can.

“It’s much easier when you have a friend with you,” Zweben said. “Because it motivates you to keep going.”

Don’t I know it.

I’m supposed to be running three to five miles every other day, but more often than not, that “run” is more of a “walk.”

It’s not that I can’t physically do it. It’s just that I don’t want to for some reason. I guess it could just be my natural dislike for running.

But I recently ran and actually finished my first-ever race, the Race for Rescues at the Rose Bowl to raise money for animal shelters. It was only a 10K – 6 miles. I couldn’t have done it without my buddy Mike Tang. He kept my snail’s pace with me, and made the six miles much easier to bear.

I need someone to train with, someone whose presence alone will shame me out of my laziness and secretly embarrass me into doing my best.

Someone like Moline is to Zweben, or Zweben is to Moline, although they don’t need any extra motivation. They’ve already been through the wringer, and are happy that they’re even able to be doing this.

Which I guess does shame me a bit, now that I think about it. I guess I just need to just shut up and run.

November 22, 2011

Marathon training with an early start

Follow Rachel’s day-to-day training on her twitter and facebook pages and read more of Rachel’s marathon experience every other Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

 

By Rachel Luna, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/19/2011 06:09:58 AM PST

 

Allow me to wipe away the sleep from my eyes as I begin my fourth marathon installment. My days are starting a whole lot earlier since I’ve begun my training, and waking up is the toughest part about it.

So much thought went into my decision to take on this adventure: all the running I’d have to endure, the healthy diet to adapt, and the commitment to a six-month training schedule.

But none of it steered me away.

Not even the “Are you sure you want to do this?” questions I received from others made me rethink my decision.

In fact, it excited me to know training for a marathon would lead to a healthier lifestyle. That pretty much sealed the deal.

I had it all figured out. Or so I thought.

But the one thing I overlooked was the change in my sleep-wake schedule.

On the first Saturday run with my L.A. Roadrunners training group, I rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and two things became evident that morning. First, that the San Gabriel Valley continues to functions before the sun is up (something I’ve hardly witnessed before). And second, I would be forced to completely change my sleep cycle if I wanted to follow through on my latest adventure.

It’s been a major adjustment.

In addition to my Saturday sessions with the Roadrunners, I’m running two to three times a week on my own for nearly 45 minutes.

Now, it’s bedtime by 8:30 p.m., then rise and shine around 5 a.m. to get out the door for my early runs. Okay, it’s really more like 5:30 a.m., but only because it’s so cold in the mornings and I like to hit the snooze button a few times, and I’ve never been much of an early bird before.

But it’s getting easier to wake up early. And sticking with my sleep-wake routine is just as important to my marathon goal as everything else, if not more.

Published running studies present evidence that lack of sleep interferes with the metabolism of glucose, which muscles use for recovery. The immune system also can deteriorate because of a lack of sleep.

I tend to get sick easily when I’m sleep-deprived, and it’s never fun being sick.

I prefer running in the morning to running in the evenings because I can get it out of the way without feeling chained all day to my marathon training.

The day goes by faster after running and eventually I barely remember running at all.

And no, it’s not because I’m still half asleep. There’s only been a couple of occasions where my recollection was fuzzy.

The sleep-wake schedule adjustment has become the unlikely component to make all of my training possible.

It’s nice to know my need for a full night’s sleep – even if I have to wake up early – is no longer just for my beauty rest. It’s a major necessity to staying healthy during my training process.

All I have to do is wake up.

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