Runners are fascinating.
Non-runners question their sanity for participating in a seemingly monotonous, exhausting sport, but talk to a runner and their passion comes through immediately. It’s inspiring.
Lara-Rae Grant and Adrienne Marsh are anything but monotonous. They have been training since July for their first marathon, the 42 km Rock n’ Roll Marathon held in Las Vegas on November 17, where they will run along the Vegas strip with 38,000 other athletes —more than the population of the Yukon.
As far as marathons go, this is a wise choice for a rookie effort. One perk is that there will be a live band every mile of the race.
“The entertainment value is there, and it’s a distraction from the pain,” says Marsh
Pain aside, these ladies enjoy seeking new challenges, as you can tell by their recent list of athletic accomplishments: the Ultimate Warrior Challenge (Whitehorse), the Tough Mudder (Whistler) and the Klondike Road Relay to name a few.
They also started cross-country skiing last winter and shortly after they dove in, they competed in the 25 km Buckwheat Ski Loppet.
“Our technique could have probably used some work,” laughs Grant.
“Jumping into things is our thing,” says Marsh. “I also like to test my limits.”
It’s a good thing they have a positive attitude and lots of energy because their current training schedule keeps them busy.
On average, they run 3-4 times per week and put in a long run every weekend. Their “short” runs are a minimum of 10 km and their long runs average around 30 km and take three hours to complete.
Running for that length of times begs some questions — what do marathoners do when they need to “relieve” themselves? Are there bathrooms along the way? Do they resort to diapers?
“We’re not that competitive,” laughs Marsh. “We’ll stop for that and we’re always sure to have tissue close by.”
Fuelling their bodies to last for a full marathon has been a trial and error process. During training, each was able to figure out what they did wrong on a bad run and re-adjust for the next jaunt.
“The bad runs have actually been key to learning,” says Grant.
Shelley Gellatly, a local athletic therapist who also coaches and provides consultations for endurance athletes, is a staple on the local racing circuit, most notably on the Yukon Arctic Ultra — a tough endurance race held in the heart of the Yukon winter.
Her advice for new runners is simple: “have fun and don’t compare yourself to others. When you start running, your first goal should be to finish healthy and happy, wanting to do more.
“There is no right or wrong or perfect formula. Training will be based on your goals, time availability and what your body can tolerate.”
How do Marsh and Grant balance their lives and their training schedules?
“You just have to buckle down and find the time, make it part of your day,” explains Marsh. “We have been kind of selfish through this and couldn’t do it without the support of family, friends and our work places.”
“So many people doubt themselves and say ‘I can’t,’ but you really can do anything you put your mind to,” says Grant. “That’s something both of us have realized. We both have so many things going on, families and work and all these things going on but still we manage to get up at 5:00 a.m. and run 10 km. One week we ran 61 km.”
One might think continually finding the motivation would be a problem.
“There has been many days where we’ve both shown up, hoping the other would cancel but we just fight through it,” says Marsh. “We know that we have to run and that we are also going to feel great after it.”
They are now addicted to their training runs, which help them de-stress, as does the peacefulness of being “disconnected” from our increasingly connected world.
“It’s a good chance to totally check out, notes Grant. “There’s no answering of phones, just Zen moments of quiet.”
What advice would they give those new to running?
“When you think you can’t, you can,” says Grant. “You can get support anywhere in this town, just challenge yourself. Plus the health and mental benefits are awesome.”
“Start slowly, set a goal. Whether it’s a 5 km or more, start small and work your way up,” Marsh adds. “(And) get a buddy if you can, it really helps to keep motivated.”
Gellatly notes that “it’s important to learn to pay attention to your body so you can make the call whether you should not be running that day or if you are just not motivated.
“You need to rest, maybe go for a walk instead. Or go to a zumba class, or even go home and lie on the couch with a beer and some chips.”
With the date of the marathon creeping up fast, they both say they just want to finish the race and they hope their competitive spirit doesn’t get the best of them at the beginning of the race.
And after the race, what’s next?
“We’re not sure, it’s tough to keep up training — but who knows, maybe we’ll end up doing an ultra marathon,” says Grant.