Former Collegiate Runner Targets First Marathon to Get Back in Shape

Kevin Sule

This guest post is from Kevin Sule, a pricing actuary at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Last May, when I and other Blues employees moved to downtown Detroit from our Southfield location, I started getting back into running.

Years ago I ran an average of 50-70 miles a week, which paled in comparison to some of my collegiate teammates at Central Michigan University who would put in more than 100 miles a week. I was driven, but not as much as I should have been to succeed at that level. I ran on the track and cross country teams from 2000-2004, but I decided to pursue other interests as I focused on school, work, and getting a higher education degree.

When I got the opportunity to come downtown Detroit for work, I joined the fitness center in the RenCen. At lunches, I started going out and jogging down the RiverWalk. I would explore different parts of the city each day, running through different neighborhoods.

Back At It

Starting out was difficult. I could barely run for more than 20 minutes before I felt like stopping. It was frustrating at first to get back into shape because it had been about five years since I last ran consistently. I was also 30 pounds heavier than I had been in college.

In those five years, I would sometimes get the urge to go out and run. My legs would get an anxious feeling every so often. I would get some short-term motivation and continue on for a couple of weeks, but nothing permanent. I didn’t have enough inertia to continue on with the lifestyle change.

Last May, I made up my mind to start running again. I persisted through the difficultly by starting slow and pacing myself. I knew that it would take a while until I started feeling comfortable. A few months went by and I started losing pounds and getting trim. I had more energy throughout the day than I did when I wasn’t exercising. At the end of the summer, once I started getting in shape, I ran a few road races. A few co-workers and I started a running club. We collaborated and set a race schedule and I was hooked again. I was running with a purpose — not only to get back into shape, but to share experiences with others and get them involved as well.

Aiming Higher

I always wanted to run a marathon, and I will run my first one — the Lansing Marathon — in two weeks. I have been training for about three months anticipating the race on April 22. It’s the first ever Lansing marathon and Blue Cross is the featured sponsor. There is a full marathon and a half marathon, and at least 30 employees from Blue Cross are going to participate.

For the past three months I have putting in more miles and runner longer. I have been getting a lot stronger and I feel that all the work I put in over the winter months is starting to pay off. I found a training plan online through Hansons running shop that has helped me create a schedule to get ready for this race and others throughout the summer. I have had my aches and pains, but I would always rest when I needed and let my body recover, even if the schedule said otherwise.

I think it’s been important for me both to get in a long run each week, but not have too much mileage. My mileage has been between 30 and 50 miles per week. I am following the intermediate training schedule, but I improvise when needed. I did my first-ever 20-miler recently, and that will be my longest run before the actual marathon.

The hardest part for me has been to set aside time through a busy work schedule. Over the past few months, I’ve woken up as early as 4:45 in the morning a few times, battled the rain and snow, and even run twice a day to get my mileage built up to sustain the 26.2-mile race. Having a race scheduled makes it a lot easier for me to focus on the end goal.

I have two more weeks until my event, so I still have plenty of training to do. Once I finish, I plan on taking a week of rest, and then focusing on the next race (sometime in June).

I’ll report back here after the race. In the meantime, anyone have advice for someone running their first marathon?

Looking to run a marathon in Michigan this year? Check out our Events calendar.

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