My evolution as a runner

My evolution as a runner

by Aaron A.

Looking back I’ve been an athlete for many years.  I did cross country, swimming, and track in high school and continued swimming/running on my own in college and the years beyond.

About four years ago, I decided to take my running to the next level and signed up for Cardio Run with Coach Joe.  This was the first time that I had ever done any real heart rate interval training.  Joe helped me learn how to recognize and maintain heart rates zones and that there was more to training than just logging in the miles.  Over the next two years I completed three half marathons and a few 10/5K’s and felt that I had made some solid improvements in my ability but was not always consistent in my races.  In particular, I struggled in the second part of my races.

So in the May of 2010 I moved to personal coaching with Joe with my eyes set on the 2010 Batavia Half Marathon and the 2010 Chicago Marathon.   Leading up to these races Joe taught me consistency in my workouts and the importance of not only doing the run but cross training and stretching.  So after five months of training, over Labor Day weekend I had an awesome day at the Batavia half, 1:40:02, and felt ready to take on the marathon.

As October approached I stepped things up with longer runs.  Then on Sunday, 10-10-10, I learned what it really meant to be a runner.  With temperatures reaching into the mid 80’s, I was able to push through the wall at 18 miles keeping in mind the words from Coach Joe.  “No matter what happens you finish.  Unless they are dragging you out in an ambulance you keep going.”  I finished up with time of 4:31 and spent the next few hours dehydrated but so proud that I had finally tackled the marathon.

During the following months, I had a new challenge: injury.  The marathon had really impacted my legs.  I also slipped on the steps of my house in December and bruised up my right foot pretty bad.  Feeling drained and not sure I wanted to keep running, it was time for Coach Joe to teach me a new lesson: how to recover and train through an injury.  So in the winter and into the spring of 2011, Joe and I focused on cross training and getting back my endurance.  However, I did not sign up for any spring half marathons.

I still wanted to do the marathon so I signed up again for Chicago 2011 and lined up a small 5K over the Fourth of July to get some racing in but not over do it.  Leading up to this race I also had some problems with my calf muscles but after 14 months of training with Joe consistency was on my side.  I knocked out the 5K with one of my fastest times in the last four years, 20:53.  Feeling pretty good, I thought I was ready to take on Chicago again.

In September after my three hour run, I started to have problems with injuries again.  I felt pain in my right knee which turned out to be some bones out of alignment.  I quickly went to see my chiropractor and he was able to work out some of the issues but I was growing scared that I wouldn’t be able to do this year’s marathon.

In the days prior to the marathon my anxiety grew.  So it was time for another lesson from Coach Joe. “How to fight your anxiety and make the best of things on race day.”  So on Sunday morning, 10-9-11, not feeling 100% in my knees I laced up my shoes and lined up for my second marathon… and Joe was right.  I was able to get through the marathon despite not being 100%.  My overall time was 4:49, which all things considered was a great way to end the race season.

So my evolution as a runner is….

  • Exposure to running in high school
  • Being an Occasional runner
  • Learning to Train in your Heart Rate Zones
  • Obtaining consistency in your workouts and the importance of cross training
  • Recovery, training through injuries and dealing with race day anxiety.

Next up, Mental Toughness…

Race Season 2012, here I come!

Click here to enjoy all the photos from our day at the 2011 Chicago Marathon

Share this post

  • Thanks Aaron for sharing your journey and insights.  I’m certain it will inspire others to step up their run game.  It was awesome to see you out there pushing to that finish line at the marathon.  Congrats!!

  • Drew Repoza

    Aaron, it sounds like you’ve already got that Mental Toughness you are talking about, if you did the marathon despite the knee pain!  Great story, and congratulations on all the progress you’ve made!

  • Marge

    Great job Aaron!  Remember, less than 1% of the world’s population even attempt to run a marathon.  You trained through injury…ran, and finished.  That makes you ELITE in my world!  Congratulations:-)

  • Sarah F.

    Aaron, congratulations on staying mentally strong despite your injuries, and congrats to Joe on helping you get to the finish line so successfully!  =)  I’m sure you’ll find your 2012 season to be successful too, no matter what curveballs life throws your way!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your journey Aaron! You are an awesome runner and I look forward to watching to reach new heights in 2012!

  • Kevin

    I know a little about training thru an injury as I’m currently doing it right now.  I’m glad you finished and had a good experience in the process!!!  You the Man!!!

  • Jim Riga

    Your story really talks to the character that reside in you and the perseverance you showed completing the Chicago Marathon. Its really an honor to be associated with people like you that never give up. Thanks for the inspiration.