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Why I Ran a Half Marathon And Already Signed Up For A Marathon

I am not a “runner”.  Running was always a part of every sport I have ever played, but it was more of a means to an end. I ran because it meant I would score a touchdown, chase down a ground ball or get open for a three pointer.  I didn’t hate running, but I also never actively ran outside of a formal practice, strength and conditioning session or game. If I was running, it was because it served a purpose for my sport. I poked fun at people who ran miles on end and could never fathom their thought processes behind volitionally choosing to do so. This past weekend, my wife and  I ran the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Savannah, GA. Throughout the race and the training leading up to it, I discovered WHY so many people of all ages and experience levels flock to the sport. 

Fantasy Football and Running

The real reason I signed up for a half marathon was because of a fantasy football bet. Our beloved colleague, Doctor Cal, lost a fantasy football bet and his punishment was he had to run a half marathon. Myself and Steph Hamilton decided to sign up with him as it would be a fun team building experience. We originally signed up for the DC Rock N Roll event in March 2020, but it was cancelled due to COVID. Luckily, we were able to defer to another race so I chose Savannah, GA. We had never been there before and I thought it would be a fun place to visit with my wife. After I started training, so did she and we signed up to run it together! By together, I mean trying to keep up with her! But, this was my first revelation in the process of running, you can use it as an excuse to travel and see new places! 

Simplicity and Accessibility

Going through the training, I had several other revelations that came to mind. Two big ones being, the simplicity and accessibility of running. It is one of the most simplest forms of exercise to perform. Put clothes on, put shoes on, run. Simple. Run outside on a road, run on a trail, run on a treadmill, run by yourself, run with friends, run someone you’ve never been and enjoy the scenery or go to a familiar place where you can zone out and go. Run in a city or run through farms. The possibilities are endless which makes the barrier to entry for running very minimal. I love playing basketball and football. They will always be my favorite sport to play. But, it’s not the easiest thing to find other people who want to/are available to play, are your same skill level and have access to a court or field to play. To be able to do that consistently day after day and week after week is almost impossible. Throw in your kids school and extra curricular activities and now your options are even more limited. For this phase of life that my wife and I are currently in, running is a great fit to meet our schedules. 

Injury History

I played a lot of sports growing up and unfortunately I got hurt a lot. I tore my ACL, MCL and Meniscus TWICE in high school. I also managed to dislocate both of my shoulders resulting in rotator cuff and labrum tears in each shoulder. In January of 2020, I herniated a disc in my back and could barely stand,  let alone walk for a week or two. It took about 4 months to recover from the herniated disc and get back to a regular exercise routine. Because of the previous knee and shoulder injuries, I struggle to weight train with any sort of volume,frequency and intensity without something flaring up. Also, I don’t enjoy lifting heavy weights. I did it for years in high school and college because of sports,  but it no longer serves a purpose. I strength train to maintain a baseline level or strength, to be relatable to patients I encounter and to mix up my training. Running is something that I can do consistently at high effort levels and still feel good later that day and the following days. For me, it will allow to maintain high activity levels for a longer duration of time and through later stages of life, which is important to me. 

Out of Comfort Zone

The final note I will touch on is that running a half marathon and eventually a full marathon will take me out of my comfort zone, which I think is important to do for personal and professional growth. Physically and mentally, it takes me to places I haven’t been before and I always feel better and productive following these workouts.  Training for the half required me to be consistent and intentional with a training program. This also forced me to be more mindful of my diet, sleeping quality and how I structured the rest of my day. It ultimately led to better efficiency at work and at home because I was more intentional with use of my time. It also allows me to better relate to my patients who are endurance athletes. I now know what they go through during training and what is expected versus what may be out of the ordinary and require more attention. Getting out of my comfort zone and doing these events will help lasting affects of personal and professional development. 

In the end, I have discovered a new form of exercise that matches up to my personal needs, abilities and desires and I look forward to seeing how these upcoming races play out. My next blog will highlight the training program I utilized and the final blog will dive into what I learned and took away from the experience! 

Dr. Zach Baker, DPT, SCS

BLOG ENTRY #2 – His Training Program, READ NOW

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