I did it! I ran a marathon. Well, kind of. I ran a cumulative 26.2 miles over the course of a month, logging my miles each time I ran. Running is not my preferred exercise or even my preferred cardio, but I had become bored of my routine and sought a new challenge after I heard about the OrangeTheory Fitness Marathon Challenge. Luckily, I was able to rope a few family members into joining me on this adventure. We shared our successful days and weeks, as well as our failures.  This challenge pushed us to reconsider how we thought about running a marathon and exercise in general.

We’d like to share a few key lessons we learned during our marathon challenge:

  • Accountability
    • Completing the running challenge in a group held us accountable to our goal. We supported each other and celebrated our milestones, literally.
  • Health Benefits
    • It’s no secret that exercise like running benefits our health. We don’t need to devote hours a day to exercise to experience these benefits. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, plus strength exercises at least 2 days per week.
    • For many people, exercise supports mental health. Running can be a way to relieve stress and focus on yourself. Completing runs for a marathon challenge is a great time to listen to podcasts or a new playlist.
  • Individuality
    • All of us like to run in different ways. For example, I prefer to run short distances on the treadmill while some of my family members only like to run long distances outside. We all ran at different paces and during different times of days as well.
    • Although we all worked toward the same goal, the marathon challenge can be adapted to your needs and preferences.
  • Safety
    • Safety is paramount. Before starting an exercise routine, speak to your doctor.
    • Fuel and hydrate properly.
      • Energy needs depend on the individual, type of activity, etc. Talk to a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition about pre- and post-workout snacks. Try this no-cook snack for fueling physical activity: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

  • Hydrate with water, seltzer, and unsweetened tea. Aim to drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces over the course of the day. Here is an excellent article on hydration during physical activity written by colleague Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN.

Be sure to stay hydrated, especially on warmer days

  • Before your run, stretch and warm-up. Examples of warm-ups include a 5-10 minute jog or 5-10 minutes on the elliptical, Stairmaster, or rowing machine.
  • Ensure that you have the proper equipment to begin a running challenge.
    • Buy well-fitting running shoes.
    • If running outside during the day, bring sunblock.
    • If running outside at night, wear protective equipment like a reflective vest.

Overall, it was exhilarating to challenge ourselves physically and mentally. Marathons shouldn’t be reserved for elite athletes. Start by jogging, or even walking, and begin logging those marathon miles!

Written by: Emilia Sochovka, MS, CPT [and RD-to-be]