LKc Style loves inspirational stories about normal guys doing amazing things. It’s the beginning of the year—resolution time—and we thought it’s a nice time to talk about getting fit and setting goals to get there. We interviewed our friend, Mark, about his personal struggles and triumphs in his marathon running career…and other manly stuff too:
TELL US WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING
My name is Mark Waller. In my day job, I’m a CPA who does tax work for nonprofit organizations. (Sounds thrilling, I know.) In my free time, I blog about all things pop culture, play music, and run marathons.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO RUNNING?
I was coerced into cross country in high school by friends of mine. When I got into college, I fell off the runners wagon big-time, but when I finished the CPA exam a year ago, I knew I needed to do something that wasn’t so…sedentary. And when I set a goal, I tend to set a totally crazy one. So, I decided to do the Twin Cities Marathon, despite having never competed in a race longer than a 5k.
WHAT IS YOUR TRAINING REGIMEN?
I try to have a few races in mind so I can train accordingly. For my first marathon, I used Hal Higdon’s 18 week marathon training course, and used his 12 week half marathon training course for the half I just completed. Most of this consists of progressively longer distances during the week and on weekends, along with some core strength training worked in. I also try to work in some yoga when I’m in the mood. I’m not always good about doing everything he asks me to do, but if I get 85-90% of it done I feel pretty accomplished.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO TRAIN MOST DAYS?
I won’t lie: it’s not always easy to get out the door and get my running shoes on. But there have been very, very few workouts where I felt worse than I did before that workout. The “runners high” that I get from running is probably my biggest inspiration.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF TRAINING AND RACING?
There is a definite “wall” that I hit in marathon training that was very hard to get through — somewhere after the midpoint of training but with 8 or 9 weeks left to go. I had to let myself rest a little more and be OK with that, which was hard to do. Racing is, generally, the reward I get out of training for a long time, but my first marathon was pure torture for the last six miles. Live and learn — the next time I do a marathon, I’ll make sure to conserve some energy for that last push. (Yes, I’m already thinking about my next marathon, despite just saying the last six miles were pure torture. Runners ARE insane.)
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF TRAINING AND RACING?
Feeling good in EVERY WAY possible in life is by far the most rewarding part about training. Things that used to stress me out roll off of me when I am training. (Dropping 25+ pounds and buying new skinny jeans that the wife likes is a nice bonus, too.) Racing is incredibly rewarding with the outpouring of love you get from your friends and family, spectators at races. Especially the TC Marathon, where over 300,000 spectators come to watch and LITERALLY are two rows deep of people for ALL 26.2 MILES! Seeing the finish line and crossing the finish line in any race is a huge reward unto itself. And at the end of most races, you get some neat swag, too!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT?
Stick with it! The hardest part of running is starting to run. Find a buddy who will start out with you. I originally started surrounded by friends, and I couldn’t imagine doing it without their support. It won’t always feel like fun, but it will definitely evolve into something great.
WHAT SHOES AND OTHER GEAR ARE YOU USING RIGHT NOW?
I wear Nike Air Plus Max shoes right now, which have gotten me 400+ miles so far and work out pretty well. For shorter workouts I’ll wear Target-brand clothes, and for longer runs I wear Brooks shorts/pants/shirts, Nike running tights, etc. And I always wear a headband, because I don’t have contacts and need something to keep my glasses on. Also, because I sweat a lot. (Gross.)
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RUNNING SONG?
In general, I listen to a lot more Top 40 while running than I do in, say, the office. But my favorite running song is probably “Let the Beat Build” by Lil Wayne. Cranking it on my iPod at the end of long runs gives me goosebumps.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY INJURIES SINCE YOU STARTED TRAINING?
I’ve been very lucky to never have had to face any major injuries since I started running again, although I did pass out in a race in Cross Country back in high school that resulted in some very worried parents, a 30 mile ambulance trip to the nearest hospital in Iowa, and some crazy hallucinations. As a result I tend to err on the over-hydrate side of training.
TELL US ABOUT SETTING GOALS AND HOW TO ACHIEVE THEM IN FITNESS. HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH THIS PERSONALLY OR WAS IT AN EASY FIT?
It is NEVER easy to set goals and achieve them, but as the adage goes, nothing worth doing is easy. Once you start setting fitness goals and start achieving, they are addictive. The more goals you set, and the more you accomplish, the more momentum you’ll have to achieve more.
Follow Mark on Twitter here for more running inspiration!
Do you have an inspirational story for us? Are you doing something great or have you overcome a great hardship? We’d love to hear from you to tell your story and be an inspiration to all of our readers. E-mail us!