Written by Hannah Mladenovich
Ahhh, the New Year is upon us and we are all feeling motivated to be our best selves. But, if you are kind of over the same “New Year New Me Resolutions” year in and year out…we have some suggestions for you!
Ever thought about running a marathon? How about competing in a Triathlon? We promise, it is not as out of reach as you might think. Setting year-long accomplishments is becoming more and more popular because it takes commitment, a plan, and consistency which holds just as many benefits as the goal itself. Think back on something you were convinced you never were going to accomplish…how did it feel when you accomplished it? Not only is the success worth celebrating, but the journey itself…YOU did that!
“Now ZYN, this sounds great, but how am I supposed to get started?” We are glad you asked! We interviewed Katie Rey (known as Babies to Boston on Instagram) who is a hardworking mom that has taken the marathon races by storm year over year, and Tyler Tanko, a professional Triathlete who has consistently placed top finisher in some of the nation’s most elite triathlete events.
Runners On Your Mark: About Katie Rey
Katie Rey started running in her late 20s as a way to cope with some mental health challenges. It was during this transitional period in her life that she decided she was going to challenge herself to run a marathon. “The first year I had to literally teach myself how to run,” says Katie, “I had no idea how people ran more than just a few minutes, let alone 26.2 miles!” Katie goes on to share, “fast forward to my first marathon– it was a complete disaster. Many people thought I was going to swear off running after that point, but I couldn’t leave it like that.” Katie stuck with running and has since run 5 qualifying times for the Boston Marathon.
Katie lives by the saying never say never. “If you would have asked me to run a marathon 13 years ago, there is absolutely no way I would have done it, but here we are. I am now training for my 9th marathon well into my 30s.” Katie shares that her mantra in life is “everyone runs their own race.” She goes on to say, “ I am not on anyone’s time, I am not in competition with anyone. I am running at my own pace, for me, and to achieve my own goals. I am not competing against anyone but myself, which is also very fitting for the game of life as well.”
Get Set, Go! Getting Started With Marathons:
Starting off, Katie did much of her running on the treadmill or on a track. However, early on in her marathon journey, she found a local running group with runners at all different levels who became like her second family. “More and more people have found running to be therapeutic, helpful, and a way to achieve their personal goals” says Katie, “and because of that there is a rapidly growing community of runners who support each other within that process.” Finding like-minded people in local running groups or even online communities is a great way to get involved and learn.
Since having kids and a full-time job, Katie has had to balance marathon training within her core schedule. “I have to set my alarm really early in the morning to get a run in,” says Katie, “otherwise it just won’t get done. I had to train myself to get out of bed that early, and some days are harder than others–but it’s my time and that is important to prioritize. What I have learned is that I always feel better when I come back from a run. It has truly positively impacted my mood, my energy, and overall productivity during the day.”
The average time to devote to running during the week will differ depending on where you are at with your training schedule. Katie shares, “After having my second child, I was only running about 4 days a week to give my body rest especially as I was bouncing back into that type of physical activity. However, my training has evolved as I have evolved. Coming up on marathon week, I can run 5 or 6 days a week to prepare–it just depends.” On average, most runners complete roughly 30-40 miles a week to prep for a true full marathon. This training is done over the course of many months and is usually accompanied with specific rest times, nutrition and recovery tips, as well as support from fellow runners and coaches. Katie shares, “as a runner you have to respect the grind and the schedule, but also the downtime. Rest is important and should never be overlooked or taken for granted.”
Taking On Triathlons: About Tyler Tanko:
Tyler grew up with a love and passion for sports. He was super competitive and found a quick interest in pushing himself to intense competitive levels. “When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I started swimming and I quickly became very fond of the competitiveness that came with it. I competed in swim meets all throughout high school but decided to pursue my running career in college,” says Tyler. He also grew up with a love for running and was successful in doing both during his younger years, but decided on mastering running when it came time to compete at the collegiate level. Tyler had dabbled in triathlons a bit during the summer between high school and college. “I actually did better than I thought I would,” says Tyler, “I had the swimming and running background, and I just borrowed my dad’s bike and practiced for my first triathlon. I took a break from those types of competitions to focus on college, but it quickly came back into my life.”
When Tyler graduated from college, he saved up for his own bike and started to take triathlons more seriously. Tyler continues, “I put a lot of effort into my training to allow me to compete at some of the smaller triathlon competitions. As I continued to improve, I was able to progress to the national competitions which I was very proud of and ultimately that is how I got to where I am today.” In addition to triathlons, including the Ironman, Tyler continues to run marathons as a way to keep up with training and follow his love for running.
Training for a Triathlon:
Tyler also balances a full-time job and a family in addition to training full-time for triathlons and marathons. Tyler shares, “it is all about finding a balance and creating a schedule that is conducive to your priorities. If you need to map it out week by week to find where your gaps are, that is okay–as long as it gets done.” Typically, Tyler wakes up early in the morning and swims 4 days a week, the days that he can’t swim or chooses not to, he will run or bike weather permitting. In the afternoons he devotes another chunk of time to biking or running. On average, he trains about 4 to 5 times per week, twice per day, which comes to about 14 hours per week.
In addition to planning, which is a critical part to any long-term committed goal such as a marathon or a triathlon, logging your progression is also important. Tyler shares, “documenting your progress is not only to track improvements, but it also keeps you on top of your goals. If I know that I am coming up on a competition, I should be able to clearly see where I am at in my training process and what I need to continue to work on.” Another great tip is to hire a coach. Tyler mentions, “I personally don’t have a coach, but I have been looking into getting one. It offers a more structured schedule. Especially if you are new, they can help you with technique, exercises, specific training programs, and overall just more stability and structure to the whole training process. This can help avoid fatigue, injury, and ensure your body stays nourished throughout the process.”
The Year of YOU:
Regardless of what your goal is for next year, it is important to make it more than just a resolution. There are so many challenges and opportunities that will help grow you mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Completing a marathon or a triathlon is an accomplishment alone. And the best part? You are only competing against yourself. There is no pressure other than what your own personal goal is. So, as you decide what 2023 will have in store for you, consider challenging yourself beyond the norm.