Jason's March to the Marathon - Feb. 1: the numbers game

Jason's March to the Marathon - Feb. 1: the numbers game

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Slow and steady wins the race.

That saying goes back to the story of the tortoise and the hare. Which are you? The steadiest athletes or "tortoises" often have the best performances.

It's fun and manly to go fast, but speed really only matters if you're trying to win a 5K or any other race, as the member of a track or cross country or Olympic team.

Yes, I have goals of how fast I want to finish my first marathon – 4 hours and 20-50 minutes, or at least break 5 hours. That means I'll need to average 10 or 11 minutes per mile over those 26.2 miles.

My main goal is not about speed or time, but to finish the Nashville marathon in April, running almost continuously, only stopping several times at water checkpoints along the route.

Our WTVM supervising producer Jay McSlarrow tells me he made a deal with God that if his Alabama football team won the National Championship, he would train for a half marathon.

I won't say "Roll Tide," but I'm glad Jay is now taking this journey. He ran a few miles, and was hobbling all weekend, so here's some of the "slow and steady" advice I gave him:

You will get the best results, not be sore, and have lower chance of injury if you ease your way back into running, and not try to be a he-man. Start over. Get the free C25K (Couch to 5K) app for your phone, an 8 or 9-week program, with 3 sessions per week. First month will seem easy, but stick with it.

It's kind of a numbers game too. When I first went through C25K in 2013, I was only running 45 minutes or 1 hour per week. That was about 4-6 miles. I eventually increased the miles and worked my way up to a 10K, a 6.2 mile race.

Eventually, my training for a half marathon started with 4 weekly runs, about 2 hours worth or running about 12 miles each week. That number jumped to 20-22 miles in the final weeks before the race.

Another co-worker, WTVM client services coordinator Whitney Wingate just ran the Callaway Gardens half marathon in 2 hours, 25 minutes – 5 minutes faster than her goal – and told me, "I felt positive and energized the whole race and relied on my training to get me through."

I ran 70 miles in the first month of 2016, but that number will go up. In preparation for my first marathon, I've started with 15-20 miles per week, but I'll be running more than 30 miles per week just one month from now.

I would be lying if I told you I was looking forward to those 3+ hour runs, but I am enjoying the journey and look forward to pushing my body where it hasn't gone before. The accomplishment will be worth it.

After running nearly 400 miles in my running shoes, it's time to put those in the garage for mowing the lawn. Experts have told me to replace those in 6 months time or when you've put 300-500 miles on the shoes, whether it's running or walking.

It's time to be steady - like the tortoise - in my marathon training, and break in these new running shoes.

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