The Journey Continues…

I’m a 54 male and started running 3 years ago. At the time, my life was pretty hectic. I was working on my master’s degree while working a full time job. As the stress levels increased, I found myself at the neighborhood bar a little more often than before. After one particularly ragged morning from a hard night of drinking, I decided I needed to find some other outlet to manage the pressure. A friend recommended that I try a little running.

Like a lot of people, running had a negative connotation for me. As a youngster in team sports, it was often used as punishment for not working hard enough in practice. Often times when I ran distances to get in shape for sports activities, I would develop shin splints. In general, it was at the bottom of my list of fun physical activities. However, I thought I would give it one more try.

Upon recommendations from a few friends, I looked into the C25K method to start running. It prescribed a very gradual increase in time and distance as well as alternating walking and running. After reading several articles on possible causes of shin splints, I also worked on changing my running stride from a long heel-striking stride to a short mid-foot stride. Most of my running was done on a treadmill at the gym. Surprisingly, after 3 months I had not developed shin splints and I could easily run 3 miles without feeling gassed – cool!

When I first started running I had no serious aspirations to compete in races. At most, I thought I would do an occasional 5K once or twice a year. My first 5K was a Color Run. No timing, pretty low key and no pressure. I had a fun time and felt a sense of accomplishment and thought maybe with a little more work and dedication I could work up to a 10K. I ran my first 10K three months later, finished second in my age group and I was hooked.

I ran five 10Ks the following year. I learned a lot that year. Some races went very well and a few I struggled in. Going out too fast, managing effort vs pace, nutrition and fueling, recovery and sleep and many other factors that go into a race and race preparation. Crazy how something as simple as running can be so challenging!

I finished my master’s degree at the end of 2013 and that opened up more time in 2014 for my new favorite hobby – running! I increased my weekly mileage and competed in 2 half marathons as well as a handful of 10Ks. I also got connected with a great running group through a friend of a friend. We meet Saturday mornings and do long runs together. Many of the group members have run half and full marathons and are a wealth of knowledge. It’s also quite social and makes the long runs go by quickly. The support and encouragement that we provide each other is invaluable.

After my second half marathon, I decided I wanted to further test my limits and race in a marathon. I had heard good things about the Green Bay marathon, so I and 3 other friends from my running group signed up for it. We have been training for it since January. The most challenging part for me has been managing fuel on the 15-20 mile long runs. I bonked during one of these runs and it was not a pleasant experience. I’ve found I need to focus on higher carb loading a few days before the run as well as take in more gels during the run. Good to discover this during training instead of race day! My goals for this first marathon are simple:
1) Finish the race
2) Run the entire distance
Anything else I achieve is icing on the cake. Looking forward to this race and hoping for a great experience!

Eric Strennen

1 thought on “The Journey Continues…

  1. Eric.. Your journey is much like myself. Except at an earlier time in my life. All the way down to the run group and the 3 of us that will be running our first marathon there in Green Bay! Cheers to you and let’s get to the finish line…

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