Meet Joel who is training for his first half marathon in years, the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. Joel ran through high school and college, but stopped for nearly 20 years and enjoyed cycling. Now he is training for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon on October 22. Joel’s marathon revival will be defying age and a long hiatus. Let’s chat with Joel.
How did you start running?
I started running very young, like 5-6. And when I say running, it was running the kid’s mile at the races my mother did. She started running late in life. She wasn’t fast and only placed when three or fewer were in her age group. I was never pushed to run; honestly, I wasn’t perfect. I kept up like this, graduating to running 5 K’s until around age 13 when I just stopped.
A Detour through Football: Injury and Rediscovery
When I went to high school, I had the dumb idea of playing football and promptly got injured and off the team before the first game. Even with that, I was still the most athletic person in my family by a wide margin. At the end of my freshman year of high school, I went out for the track team but planned to do discus and shot put. I was equally bad at these, but at the end of the year, there was a freshman/sophomore meet, and the guys were short a runner for the distance medley (1200,400,800,1600), and I said, why not and did the 1200 leg. We didn’t win but came in 3rd and we all got medals. Maybe it was the medal or not being awful, but that moment sparked my love of running.
After that, I went out for the cross country team(my favorite running form). That year, I ran a 19:03 5K and came 2nd in a JV race. From then on, I was always among my school’s top 7 distance runners. Going to state my senior year in XC and made it to sectionals in the 3200 m’s. After all that, I went to college and joined the XC team, but before the season started, I got significant shin splints that restricted my running. Still, my coach said as soon I was cleared to run, I’d go right back to the total mileage I knew would injure me again, so I hung up my running shoes, joined a fraternity, and gave up until I was 27/28.
From Injury to Biking: A Different Path
A co-worker said hey let’s run a half marathon, so I was like sure. With no coaches or actual knowledge, we started. This is where I learned that you have to replace your shoes and because I didn’t I injured my leg. The doctor told me I shouldn’t run for six months and that I could swim or ride a bike instead. My running partner said, “Hey, I ride bikes, and there is this thing called the MS150 we could do,” which led to riding throughout most of my life.
I decided to see if I could run again at age 46. Two years ago, I struggled to string together a run /walk mile while watching my 18-year-old son ran 4.3 miles without trouble. One night I decided to try a 10K on a whim. I ran it pretty fast and without much struggle, so I thought back to that last half marathon from decades ago. I wondered, so I began planning a training program without telling anyone besides you and my son.
Since you’ll ask, I would use a real coach. I thought maybe I’d ask chatGPT(no, really) to create one, but when a running influencer I follow mentioned three different marathon training programs, one being “run with Hal,” which is unrestricted, I decided that is what I will try. So I picked a half that isn’t very big that my girlfriend is already planning on doing.
How does your job affect your running?
My job is in cybersecurity for Nike, so yes, my job affects my training positively, as my company fully supports its employees working out and exercising. Everyone at work is super supportive, which is nice.
What do you think the most challenging thing about training for the half marathon will be?
The hardest thing about training is being consistent but listening to my body and running slower when it’s called for. Then I will need to balance my training with my riding.
What does training currently look like for you?
Right now, I am in the base building phase. I recently started my training plan and it has me running about 1.5 miles and slowly increasing. Right now I’m still cycling a lot and have averaged at least 150 miles per week. I’m beginning to increase my running mileage slowly so I don’t injure myself.
How did you choose your race?
I looked at a list of races my girlfriend was doing and picked one that I felt had sufficient training time and wasn’t too big. No other logic than that! I planned to do the MO Cowbell Half Marathon, which I thought was late October but it’s actually October 1st. Luckily, I was able to sign up for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon on October 22nd.
We can’t wait to follow Joel’s journey to the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon!