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September 13, 2022

Runcoach Success Story: Frank Marshall

Written by Josh Aufhauser
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Frank is celebrating the successful completion of the Ottawa Marathon '22 in 3 hours and 50 minutes. 
His story sheds some light on the journey to healthy running amidst a busy lifestyle.Frank Marshall jogging city streets

Major milestone: Ottawa Marathon 2022.  Completed in 03:50 (gun time was probably 03:45 because I finished on the line with the 03:45 pace bunny!).

What is the secret to your success?  Stretching, running, breathing, groceries, walking, more walking.  Having good routes.  I've been running a lot ever since I was 4, but walking and carrying big groceries has been the most stable and consistent thing that has kept my fitness regardless of my general running form or participation in events.  Having people who support you is massive, if you don't know anyone obvious in your vicinity, join a running club or a training program - even if you don't attend all the time, it gets you off the ground to independence at the very least, but can do a lot more as well (Runcoach certainly helped!).  Breathing rhythm is very important, it helps for just about anything that requires effort because it helps you maintain composure in a way I find little else does.

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?  Work and family commitments.  I took physical education as an elective in high school every year starting Grade 10, because I couldn't fit a club in to my packed schedule.  During my university years (2008-2020), I didn't always have the time to run much, so I just participated in a handful of small races (<15K).  But during terms, I walked with the patience of knowing that I'd be running again at the end of that testing period, and that would keep me fit enough to get going quickly out of the blocks upon resuming my running.  Running in this case meant playing soccer, long-distance runs, and tennis - all good, different forms of running.

What is the most rewarding part of training?  You feel very good after a tough run because of the adrenaline rush and subsequent clarity of mind, so that gives you the incentive to agonize for an hour.  The clarity of mind comes because your body is functioning well the rest of the day.  You need good eating habits, so that adds to your feeling well during the day.  The adrenaline rush helps you because without that it's hard to get from anywhere other than exercise; new movies don't come out at the cinema every day, sports events occur once a week, eating too much chocolate comes with lows later on because it does something bad to your digestion.  Racing is great because of the way the local community comes out just to see the runners - not to mention the rather tremendous good will you see from volunteers (this is really some of the best of society that you will ever see).  I should say: virtual races done solo are fantastic, though you should probably have at least one person there to provide you drinks and cheer you on for the day.  I ran my first half marathon in 2021 during lockdown.  Having a friend and my parents there made that day more or less as exciting for me as the 2022 in-person event a year later.

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?  Personal experience (differs between people, so might not apply to the reader): if you've never run before, don't run unless you've tried walking long distances (e.g., 5K).  Buy running shoes (that was my first mistake, and my foot let me know about it!).  Follow instructions of a coach/teacher or any other trainer (e.g., running partner) who knows more about running than you do.  Try different styles of running.  Absolutely, do 20 minutes of static stretching post-run, 10 minutes of dynamic stretching pre-run.  Eat not too much the night before a run, but have something to eat alongside you during the run.  On a hot day, drink more than you feel like consuming.  On a freezing day, bring gloves and run in loops rather than long stretches.  Try laps before running too far - that way, you calibrate how far your route should be.  Buy a book about running, better if it is a very detailed one, it's worth paying for.  Read a blog (Runcoach blog is amazing).  If you're running and don't feel in control, slow down.  The most important thing is to finish the assigned distance.  Even if the time ends up poor, long-distance running is often about just pushing yourself at this moment in time.  You don't look at people running in the morning and think they're slow or fast; you normally think, "That is someone pushing hard, good for them".  You don't go easy on yourself, though, you go as far as you can go without losing control in the sense that absolutely you must reach the finishing line and you'd rather avoid a bad time as a bonus.

Anything else you would like to share?  My family, my friends, and my teachers have all been important in starting me off, maintaining and developing my running activity throughout the years.  It is to them that I owe all of my achievements, the hard work I put in is largely a reflection of their remarkable efforts over many years.  The people of Runcoach who have provided those Hi-5's have offered brilliant support throughout my training, that is the kind of support that you think about when your legs feel like quitting.  Also, a word for Terry Fox, whose charity run is held in many places worldwide (or virtually, in the areas of some readers).  Look him up if you don't know his story, and try giving up on a hard run after you've read that.  That story gives me a lift sometimes when I feel that the effort is getting too much.  Also, thinking of how good the warm drink and meal back home are going to taste!

What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?  I began with Runcoach using the free trial offered in preparation for the 2021 virtual Ottawa Half Marathon event.  I started it in March 2021 as I began training, concerned from my previous experiences of physical-education courses that I'd be making novice errors during training for a distance >5K longer than my previous distance record.  This was the time of lockdowns and isolation, one that nobody likes looking back to.  Runcoach here was pivotal because it not only pushed me to new distances and raised my general health and performance standard, it helped me through Winter 2021 when lockdowns were in full force and cold conditions meant that indoors was more of a necessity.  I learnt a lot from my coach, he was there every time and punctual whenever I had questions.  The option of the log entries is terrific, and also the adaptation of the schedule after a goal has been reached always seems to work well for me, I rarely feel intimidated.
Last modified on September 13, 2022
Josh Aufhauser

Josh Aufhauser

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