Alec Ure details his will and commitment to running in the Los Angeles Marathon by his turbulent relationship with running itself.
The peak of my running career came about a year and a half ago. At that time, I was sixty pounds lighter and doing ten miles on the regular. However, at the end of last summer, I moved to Portland and started college. As my life became more hectic and school took more and more of my time, running fell by the wayside.
This summer, driven by a goal to run in the LA Marathon, I wanted to completely immerse myself in running and get back to peak shape. I had always been a street runner; sidewalks were my domain. Getting back to this type of running was fairly easy and achieved by slowly ramping up my mileage, with my body quickly returning to the swing of things. I wanted more. More would come in the form of trail running.
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Los Angeles is a city known for its trails and beautiful hiking destinations. This was something I most certainly had to take advantage of this summer. Picking up some running shoes with a more all-terrain tread pattern, I met my friend Paolo at the top of Victory trailhead. Paolo ran cross country through all four years of high school and as a result, he is still very adept to trail running. Even though we met at nine in the morning, the heat was already in the low 90s.
The beginning of the run was pretty solid. The consistency of the terrain helped me lock in and find my groove, at first. The trail suddenly became more uneven and I felt my breath becoming less steady as I ran further along. The sun beaming down on us eventually squeezed all the water out of my system and I was more than ready to turn around. I was only able to complete a four-mile circuit, of which I believe I only ran two miles properly. I didn’t want to feel discouraged by this so I assessed my performance and figured out the changes I could make to improve.
What needs to change?
The first thing I decided to adjust was my overall water intake. Instead of chugging down copious amounts of water after my workout, I started drinking water regularly throughout the course of my day. Staying hydrated throughout the day has improved my performance during runs and other physical activities. Bringing water with you is also extremely helpful, particularly when the temperature is pushing triple digits.
Though I’ve never stretched before a street run, I soon realized how useful it is to stretch before a trail run. Even a few minutes of basic, light stretching before hitting the trail can make all the difference when your body begins to feel tired. Keeping things loose is essential.
The third thing that I want to highlight is the importance of starting light. Don’t try to go too far right out the gate, don’t try to run in the afternoon heat, and don’t try to be the fastest person on the trail. All of these things can come with enough practice, but it’s important to start easy, assess where you are and whether you need to push yourself further, or take a step back.
I’m not exactly where I’d like to be at the moment. I’m not as fast as I’d like to be, nor can I go as far, but it’s getting easier and I’m feeling better when on the trail. I’ve realized that it’s not about the individual runs but about the evidence of progression and growth that matters. As long you’re improving, no matter how incrementally, you’re doing what you ought to be doing.
Written by Alec Ure