Running a Marathon for Jumpstart

by Casey SalviettiCasey Salvietti, a long-term friend to Jumpstart, is a Senior Analyst at AccentHealth. In her spare time, she runs all over New York City.

On November 22, 2015, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in support of Jumpstart and the nearly 11,000 preschool children they serve each year.

Even though I have been running for four years, I would not consider myself “a runner.” I have never been fast, and never will be – running a 5K (3.1 miles) in 30 minutes is a very good time for me. Over the past five months, as I prepared to run my first ever marathon, I learned that given the right training and motivation, I could run 26.2 miles… and you can too!

The most important advice I have to offer to marathon runners is to first figure out what works best for you. Training for and running a marathon is a huge commitment, but finding the right motivation, such as supporting a good cause like Jumpstart, can make all of the difference.
Jumpstart made all the difference for me – and I hope you too can find your motivation. Here are a few things to think about as you consider running a marathon:

1. Nutrition

You are going to need to eat something during the race, and there are lots of options to try, including gels, chews, and sport beans. You should try out different types of nutrition and flavors during your long training runs. My favorite pick-me-up was an energy chew!

2. Gear

Training for a marathon takes a toll on your body, but you can minimize it with the right gear. Make sure you have the right shoes; I suggest going to a specialty running store for the initial purchase. Aside from shoes, you might need compression sleeves or supports. I ended up with ankle and knee pain, and compression sleeves really helped.

3. Group Runs

One of the best things I did was join a group for some of my longer training runs. It is pretty hard to wake up early on a Saturday morning to run 15 miles on your own, but it’s a little easier if you are meeting a group of people that are also training. Group runs will also take you on routes that you might not have thought to do on your own.

4. Entertainment

Even if you are fast, a marathon is likely to take 3–4 hours. For some people, myself included, running for that long stretch of time can get tedious. In my earlier training runs, I listened to music. That worked when I was doing 90 minute runs, but eventually, I needed something to take my mind off of the running. For my 10+ mile runs, I started listening to podcasts. I found a few that I really enjoyed, and it helped me get through those long run.

5. Support

The main thing that got me through the day of the Philadelphia Marathon was my support system. By mile 20, I was in a lot of pain, and I did not think I could finish. Every time I thought about giving up, I remembered all of the people that had supported me on this journey and why I was on this journey to begin with. I thought about my Mom who made the trip with me to Philadelphia and was waiting at the finish line. I remembered my Dad and friends who were tracking my progress from afar. Finally, I thought about everyone who had made a donation to Jumpstart on my behalf, each gift helping preschool children across the country enter kindergarten with the tools and skills needed to succeed.

In the end, it was the support and inspiration that got me over that finish line.

Running a marathon is not for everyone, but it is an incredibly rewarding experience, for many reasons. If you are interested in training for your first marathon, I would highly recommend finding a nonprofit organization or cause, like Jumpstart, to support at the same time. This added motivation makes your daily training not only about your personal best, but what each mile run does to impact the lives of others. With the right training and motivation, you can run a marathon. But, maybe start with a 5K first!

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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