Under the weather

Under the weather

Shirley LeMay of Champaign had run several half-marathons when she decided to train for her first marathon in 2014. She signed up for Second Wind Running Club’s marathon training program and prepped with a group of runners getting ready for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.

“I knew I needed support with the long runs,” she said. “I’d never run more than 13.1 miles, so any training runs higher than that distance were filled with a bit of anxiety. But the pacing group and training group were very supportive. They help you through the entire run. You don’t have to worry about the course.

“When you’re running those long distances, having that support group is so important to keep you going,” especially training during the winter months for a spring marathon, LeMay said.

The program, which helps runners train for the half-marathon or marathon in late April, began in 2009, the same year the Illinois Marathon debuted. It provides a training plan, pacers who lead groups of varying speeds on Saturday runs each week starting in January, and a pre-race talk with the race directors.

Blog PhotoUnlike LeMay, Hanah Choi of Urbana didn’t really like running, but she worked out and she thought she could tackle a 10K run. Participating in one of the races at the Illinois Marathon was on her bucket list to complete while she was studying piano performance and literature at the University of Illinois.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Choi said.

Even so, she completed the 10K in 2016, and then she joined Second Wind Running Club and decided to train for the Illinois Marathon.

“I was a total newbie for running. I jumped from the 10K to the marathon, which is a little unusual,” she said.

Choi relied on the training program and its more experienced runners for advice and to help her through the long runs.

“With the pace groups, even though I’m super-slow, I don’t need to worry that I’m going to run alone,” she said.

Knowing other runners were showing up every Saturday for a long run helped get her out the door as the mileage increased.

“It was positive peer pressure that made me keep going,” Choi said

The routes for long runs often involved doing a shorter loop several times. That was helpful because she didn’t have to carry all her water and mid-run snacks with her. Breaking up a longer run into segments also made it easier mentally to get through the distance, she said.

After completing the Illinois Marathon this spring, Choi ran her second marathon in Indianapolis in early November. She’ll join the marathon training program again to train for the 2018 Illinois Marathon.

After LeMay ran her first marathon, she trained with the program again in 2015 to get ready for the marathon. Since 2016, she’s been a pace leader for the program, leading runners who are training at a 10-minute-per-mile pace. This year, she also became one of the program’s coordinators.

Blog PhotoThe training group pacers suggest strategies for new half-marathoners and marathoners to help them on race day. The groups run portions of the race course during training runs so participants become familiar with it.

David Ammermann of Champaign paces the 9-minute-per-mile group. He enjoys meeting new runners and helping to guide them, and he also likes the camaraderie of the group.

“You get to be with like-minded people, to get motivated to do more. It’s much easier to run those longer distances when you have people there that you know,” he said.

Ammermann began pacing half-marathon runners in 2016. This year he paced the marathon group, and in 2018 he’ll again pace the half-marathoners. He said pacing has been as helpful for him as it has been for the less-experienced runners he’s leading.

“I wanted something to help motivate me to go out and run longer distances on Saturday. If I sign up to be a pacer, that will force me because I have to show up to lead people,” he said. “Also, I learn from other more-experienced pacers and glean their knowledge to make myself a stronger runner.”

LeMay noted the benefits of the training group are not just support for weekend long runs. Participants get a training plan that includes suggested distances for weekday runs, and the fee for the program includes a yearlong membership to Second Wind Running Club, which organizes mid-week runs.

LeMay also made new friends through the training program.

“You get to know people really well when you spend three hours running with a person,” she said. “It’s really diverse group of people who you can get to know. It’s given me a lot of new friends I never would have connected with had it not been for the running club and specifically the training program.”


Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner, swimmer and triathlete. You can email her at jheckel@news-gazette.com, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.


On the web:

More information about Second Wind Running Club’s marathon and half-marathon training program and online registration can be found at http://secondwindrunningclub.org/marathontraining. There is also a link on the site for those interested in being pacers for the program.


Photos: Top, Philip Gable, David Meyer, Aldo Manfroi and Sarka Petrickova head through campus on a snowy training run as part of Second Wind Running Club’s marathon/half-marathon training program. Bottom, Jeff Haas and Andrea Stack run at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet during a training run. Photos provided by Shirley LeMay


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