One of the best things about have a blog about running, something I love, is connecting with others who share the same passion. When I signed up for the Pittsburgh Marathon and started blabbing it all over social media, I was instantly connecting with other runners who were also signed up to run May 4th. It’s been great being able to share experiences, trials, errors and accomplishments with a variety of people from all over the US. And it’s especially amazing to know that we’ll all be toeing the line together and running in each others footsteps come race day. Cool, right?
I thought sharing their stories and journey’s on this blog would be a great way for other Pittsburgh Marathon runners to connect with them as well.
Meet Ethan from New York. Ethan will be “Running Home” this May and Pittsburgh will be his first marathon. I encourage you to follow Ethan on his journey where he blogs over at Spiritual Creaminess.
When did you first become interested in running?
When I was a kid, my mother ran the NYC Marathon. Her training and race experience were inspiring and planted a seed in my head. Now in my 30’s, I started paying attention to fitness and nutrition to reverse the effects of some bad habits from my 20’s.
At the very beginning of our transformation from couch potatoes to athletes, my wife and I got into a friendly debate about what type exercise to do. She was an advocate for High Impact Interval Training, while I clung to running as the way to go, so it was actually stubborn spite that pushed me out the door to become a runner.
The beautiful thing is that after the initial debate subsided, we ultimately inspired each other and now we both run AND do interval training. Funny how life works out sometimes.
What do you love most about running?
Being alone outside with Mother Nature, a form of meditation where I retreat into my mind and mentally follow my nose. Some days I force out all external thoughts and just concentrate on my body and the experience. Other days I take stress from my day and vent the energy through my shoes and into the road. Sometimes my imagination takes over and I create vivid visions of music videos or a story line for a book. I indulge the neglected introvert side of my personality.
Will this be your first full marathon?
Yes! I ran my first half marathon at the Mighty Niagara in September 2013. I was on such a runner’s high following that race, I knew that day that I wanted to do a full. The sense of accomplishment from the half was amazing, but all the stories I read about a full marathon, and The Wall, and that magical transformation that happens around miles 18-20, I knew I wanted to conquer it.
Why did you choose Pittsburgh as your spring marathon? Do you have special ties to Pittsburgh that bring you here?
- Time of year. I caught the marathon bug too late to do a fall race, so I looked for something early in the year.
- Location. Just a short road trip from Buffalo.
- Friends. One of our friends recently moved home to Pittsburgh, so it’s a great excuse to visit her.
- Energy. I read lots of stories about the amazing energy from the neighborhood residents in the city on race day.
What is your favorite aspect of training so far?
- Connecting with the community of other people training for spring marathons, and especially the Pittsburgh race. The interesting stories, the varied approaches to accomplish the same goal, the support through tough patches.
- Making a plan and sticking to it. Sometimes I like to look at the full calendar and the months ahead, other times that feels overwhelming so I look at today’s run only. Each run fits together like a puzzle.
What is the most difficult part about training so far?
- This winter has been especially tough, given the abnormally cold / windy / snowy conditions. I’ve learned that snow itself isn’t too bad to run on and you can bundle up against the cold. The rough stuff is the black ice that hides in plain sight to twist your ankle or knock you off your feet.
- Early in the training plan, I was pushing myself too hard. Overtraining was burning me out, where I mentally struggled to get out the door. Once I noticed it, I lowered the intensity to a healthy level and quickly returned to loving my runs.
- Keeping up with laundry and hunger. My washing machine deserves a gold medal, and the workers in the produce section of my grocery store are getting to know me by name.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new runner, what would it be?
If you are a man, embrace tights. I was a hold out, but once I tried a pair, the experience was liberating. Women have had a monopoly on tights for far too long, time to share.
On a more serious note, compete with yourself, and only yourself. Everybody has their own speed, their own distances, their own goals, and their own lives that surround running. Friendly competition is a good thing, but comparing yourself to others can quickly lead to negativity or even unhealthy behavior.