In my last post, I shared my running story. Today I’m sharing my husband’s running story, which, in my opinion, is much more interesting and inspiring.
What I find inspiring about T as a runner is that he didn’t have a background in running and started running in his late 30s. Yet, through hard work and consistency, he’s made tremendous strides (pun intended, haha!)
T ran a 20k in 2009 and a half marathon in 2015, however it wasn’t until 2017 when he really got into running and races. He ran 17 races in 2017 and 14 in 2018. To date, he’s run a full marathon, seven half marathons and 20ks and numerous 5ks and 10ks.
Time isn’t everything when it comes to running but it can be a very valuable measurement tool. I’m including a list of where T started with his race times along with his current personal records (PRs) because I feel they accurately illustrate just how far he has come with his running.
Start: 6:52 – (Oct 2017)
Current PR: 5:57 – (Sept 2018)
*Improved time by: 55 seconds
Start: 25:37 (8:32 pace) – (May 2017)
Current PR: 21:16 (6:51 pace) – (Nov 2018)
*Improved time by: 4 minutes 21 seconds
Start: 54:00 (8:41 pace) – (May 2017)
Current PR: 45:22 (7:18 pace) – (May 2018)
*Improved time by: 8 minutes 38 seconds
Start: 2:24:56 (11:40 pace) – (Jun 2009)
Current PR: 1:40:19 (8:04 pace) – (Jun 2018)
*Improved time by: 44 minutes 37 seconds
Start: 2:17:16 (10:29 pace) – (Oct 2015)
Current PR: 1:38:50 (7:33 pace) – (Oct 2018)
*Improved time by: 38 minutes 26 seconds
3:49:00 (8:44 pace) – (Jan 2019)
I hope that by seeing these times, it might encourage others to see what’s possible. In T’s words:
“I’m a very average athlete but have learned about the power of consistent training. If I can make improvements like these, anyone can!”
Read on to learn about T’s best running advice, how it works with me being his running coach and his running YouTube channel!
You mentioned in 25 Random Facts About My Husband you became an avid runner in your late 30’s. Did you run at all before that?
I had a few relatively short stretches of running earlier in life. I remember running a little on campus at Iowa State and back in my hometown during college. Then another time in my late 20’s I got in to it. It didn’t stick then though.
So, why did you decide to start running?
I got inspired by you. You got into running before I did. I went to support you at your races and eventually decided I wanted what you and all the other people running races were experiencing. I had gotten enough of a taste of it from my earlier little stints of running that I knew it was something I enjoyed, and I was definitely realizing that my overall fitness had been slipping away from me as my trips to the gym were no longer happening.
I’m your running coach, meaning I write your training plans for races, give my input, etc. Talk about that dynamic and how it has worked out.
It was a complete game changer for me. Exactly what I needed to take the next step as a runner. I didn’t have to think. I just had to execute the plan you laid out before me. As I began to do that I immediately saw results which just reinforced my trust in what you were having me do. I honestly couldn’t have imagined posting some of the times I had, but you knew it was possible and had a path and plan to get me there. Its been a blast!
What are your favorite and least favorite types of training runs?
My favorite type of run is the long run. As a part of training the purpose of them is just to get used to covering a distance and staying on your feet for a long period of time. That means the pain is pretty minimal. I’ve called long runs my “celebration of life.” I just enjoy the fresh air and scenery while listening to a great podcast or some of my favorite tunes. My least favorite would be the tempo run. Those involve some pain that is endured for a fairly long period of time. Those are also the ones that really make you feel like your doing something, though, so you feel the most rewarded when they’re done. That doesn’t mean I ever look forward to them. Haha!
Favorite place to run in Des Moines?
We used to live in the Western Gateway Park area [of Des Moines] and I started running a downtown route then that I really fell in love with. I’d go down to the river and then back west to Greenwood Park and sometimes over to Gray’s Lake. There’s some traffic to deal with, but it’s worth it for the scenery and the energy you get from a downtown run.
Any interesting or funny training memories?
I’ve gotten startled by a few deer and at least one raccoon. Haha! Also, I stepped on a large rock on the sidewalk and tumbled head over heels. That one actually wasn’t so funny at the time.
You’ve run a full marathon, seven half marathons and 20ks and numerous 5ks and 10ks. What is your favorite race distance and why?
I’m gonna go with the half marathon. It’s a very challenging distance, but not the semi-torture of the full marathon. Because it’s a long race it’s essential to keep a reasonable pace so the first eight to nine miles are relatively comfortable allowing you to enjoy the spectacle of it all. The 5k is work from start to finish and with the 10k I’m always questioning whether I’m pushing it too hard or not hard enough.
Any interesting or funny race memories?
The one that sticks out is from the Drake Relays 5k in 2018. We decided to go to the awards presentation after because I had a decent time. They called my name for finishing third in my age group and awarded me this sweet Drake Relays baton. I was feeling really good about myself walking around with that thing. Then on the way home you were looking at the results more closely. Turns out they had been mistaken. I was fourth and not third. That was not actually my baton after all. Haha! (Click HERE to watch the video of this).
What was your most memorable race experience?
That would be the Des Moines Half Marathon in 2018. You and I set a fairly aggressive goal to finish under 1 hour and 40 minutes (7:37 per mile pace), and we achieved it. There was a small added challenge as well. My watch didn’t work for the first few miles which meant I was guessing on my pace. When you’ve been training with a watch and doing tempo runs at a very specific pace that is an extremely uncomfortable position to be in. Luckily, I guessed right and had just the right amount left at the end.
What was the most challenging race of your life?
I’m going to cheat and give two. The marathon is definitely one. That distance is just no joke. I started to hit quite a wall around 19 miles and knowing that you have another 10k left at that point is quite daunting from a mental standpoint. The other would be my first-ever Dam to Dam way back in 2009 and that’s because I was completely unprepared. I went out too fast and walk/ran at least the last half of it. It was exhausting and demoralizing and at the same time.
Will you ever run another marathon?
I certainly hope so! I am nowhere close to being able to do that right now, but it’s definitely in my mind. In fact my tentative goal (with health being the variable I can’t necessarily control) is to run a full marathon at 50, and then (if God so allows it) another one at 60. Gotta think big right?!
Will you ever run an ultramarathon?
The saying goes “never say never” but… I have not for even one second ever considered the idea of the ultra.
Any bucket list race(s)?
I’m gonna say the New York City Marathon. I’ve never even been to the city so what a better way to explore it for the first time right? We always watch it on TV and the energy of it looks incredible!
You have a running YouTube channel! Why?
You and I thought it would be a fun thing to do and it has been. You like to take video at my races and love YouTube and I have the ability to edit them given my background in video. It’s also a great way to really document this fun and gratifying little journey we’ve taken together. I’m sure our daughter will have fun watching them one day.
RELATED: T Runs YouTube Channel
You haven’t posted a running video since January 31, 2019. Why?
It’s a combination of two things. One, we had a baby and I haven’t devoted as much time to training and races and two, COVID-19 happened which pretty much derailed all in-person races this past running season. I never stopped running, though. I just haven’t done any dedicated training for races.
How did you achieve your last goal of a running a sub-1:40 half marathon? Same goes for the rest of your time improvements.
Having a plan that was designed to make me run faster for longer was the key. That plan was devised by you – my coach/wife – so you deserve at least as much credit as me. The biggest thing from me was consistency. I was able to practice discipline that surprised even myself. Instead of looking for excuses (like I often have in the past) for skipping a workout, I became determined to get my work done no matter what the circumstances. I decided that if nothing else there was always 4:30 am.
What advice do you have for someone looking to start running?
The main thing is just get out there and start running. Focus on running for a set amount of time at first and don’t worry about the distance you’re covering. (Also don’t worry if you have to walk some intermittently). Go every other day at first and after a few weeks string back-to-back days together. About that time is when you may start to notice some magic happening.
What advice do you have for someone who starts running later in life?
Be easy on yourself. You’ll probably have a few more body pains and they may last a little longer than they would have when you were 23. Also be sure to stretch (I should practice what I preach there) after runs and try to incorporate a little strength training for injury prevention. Just easy stuff like body weight squats and lunges as well as glute exercises like various leg lifts while on all fours.
JUST FOR FUN
Running shoe of choice?
I’m a Brooks guy all the way. I wear Brooks Glycerins and just get the latest version each year. When it comes to shoes you find a brand that works for you and stick with them! I also replace the factory insoles with Superfeet Blue ones.
Aside from running shoes, what are some of your must-have running items?
I always use a Garmin watch to track my pace and distance. Running-specific socks are essential to avoid blisters. Wireless headphones are a must as I love to have my podcasts/music in my ears always. And Body Glide is something that saves me when my runs get over eight miles or so. Cumulative friction can cause some pains in certain areas when runs get long.
Morning or evening run?
I’m typically an early morning runner. Lately, with a little one at home, it’s been whenever I can carve out time to get one in.
Worst injury and how you got over it?
About a month before my first full marathon I started having knee pain. It was bad enough that I stopped running in fear of it getting worse and derailing the race. I went to a running-specific PT/chiropractor and he confirmed it was inflammation resulting from unbalanced hips. My glutes were weak and the compensation left me with the knee thing. He did some therapeutic stuff (massage, compression, kinetic tape) and told me to increase my cadence as much as I could during the race. Although I was still feeling it just a little on race day it turned out to be a non-factor. Thanks Dr. Andy!
Do you listen to anything while you run or prefer silence?
I definitely listen to podcasts and music. I’m not a fan of running in silence. When I do that I end up playing some annoying song or repeating some weird mantra over and over in my head. (Weird, I know). I like the idea of just enjoying the sounds of nature but I’ve never really been able to put that to practice.
Favorite pre-run food?
The night before my go-to has been HuHot (stir-fry noodles and veggies). The day of I keep it very light. Maybe a breakfast bar or some toast.
Favorite post-run ritual?
Pig out, baby! A big ‘ole burger and a basket full of fries is always a good choice. If there’s a good ballgame to sit back and enjoy that’s a bonus!
Would you rather run in hot and humid conditions or cold and blustery conditions?
Wow, those two present completely different challenges. Hot and humid isn’t that bad until your body quickly gasses out. In cold weather you feel like you can run forever until you lose feelings in your extremities or just get tired of being attacked in the face by the wind. I’m going to say I prefer hot and humid.
If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ll say Hawaii simply because that means we’d actually be in Hawaii. It’s somewhere you and I are very much looking forward to visiting one day.
If you could go on a run with anyone famous, who would it be?
Casey Neistat. He’s a famous YouTuber and an avid runner. I know he’d pick out a great route and we’d have some interesting conversation. He’d have to slow down for me, though.
*Click HERE to read more of T’s Guest Posts.