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Advice for Your Next Marathon

Catherine Anderson ’23 describes the Boston Marathon as “fun and surreal.” The 18 year old prioritized seeing “family and friends along the way rather than running past everyone to try to hit my goal.” Offering sage advice for marathon hopefuls, she cautions, “know your limits” and suggests starting with a half marathon to gain “a sense of accomplishment as well as some reassurance that you can do all 26.2.”  Anderson believes it’s “100 percent possible” for anyone to run a marathon, and below she details her experience training for and running in the Patriots Day foot race.

Wow! A marathon at only 18! Was there something in your life that made you decide to do this?

Living in Boston, I grew up seeing people I know run the Boston Marathon and I always applauded their efforts and determination. Also, Boston has always shown a huge sense of community around the marathon and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.

How was training for a marathon? It takes months to build up the endurance, did you have to alter your daily schedule to find the time?

Training for a marathon was definitely time-consuming and I had to build a lot of time into my week for training. I ran a half marathon in November and I trained a little for that but I mostly relied on my free time during the weekends to fit in my long runs. Most of the time I would run right after school before going home to do my homework. Sometimes I would run during school if I had multiple free periods back to back. Most of my long runs were on Saturday mornings, which were challenging to wake up for, but worked conveniently for my school schedule. 

How has being a part of Winsor athletics influenced your training? 

The biggest thing I have learned from Winsor athletics is the importance of strength training and cross training while playing a sport. I developed a routine of strength training while in season, which kept me healthy and able to perform well. Although I tweaked my routine a little bit to allow for more running, the strength training I did helped keep me healthy and injury free throughout the whole training process.

Did you set a goal for yourself for the marathon?

I did set a general goal for myself of being close to four hours, but I also was not too hard on myself. One of the best things my coach told me was that I would have good runs and bad runs, which really helped keep me going during the training. Although I was a little bit over my goal, I focused more on enjoying the experience, so I stopped and talked to my family and friends along the way rather than running past everyone to try to hit my goal.

Was there any point in your training where you thought about taking a step back and not running the marathon?

There were some low points in my training where I would either be really tired and not want to go on a run, or have to skip something because of my training runs, and my initial thoughts would always be that I could just not run the marathon, but I quickly remembered why I chose to run. Not only was it a huge personal accomplishment that I wanted to reach, but I was now raising money and running for so many children who were not given the same opportunities as I grew up with. I immediately gained back my motivation and kept training.

You ran for the Corey Griffin Foundation. Could you tell us a little bit about their cause?

The Corey Griffin Foundation works to improve the lives of Boston-area children through education and healthcare. The foundation believes that every child should have the opportunity to succeed, irrespective of their financial or health circumstances. I was introduced to the Corey Griffin Foundation through my parents but I chose to run for them because of my interest in healthcare and education, especially for children. I loved working with the foundation and I am planning to continue volunteering and doing work with them.

Did you have a coach? Did anyone help you in this journey?

Running with the Corey Griffin Foundation, our whole group had a coach and he had a program for us to follow, which I definitely utilized. We ran with a bunch of different groups and I made friends who I would run with, so they definitely helped during the training. Also, my mom has run 13 marathons, so she helped me throughout the whole journey.

How did the marathon go? Any notable miles or fellow runners?

The marathon was so much fun and a surreal feeling. My favorite part was seeing people I knew who were cheering me on and a few who were also running. The first half was definitely harder mentally and easier physically, but once I hit mile 13 the crowds got bigger and I started to see so many people I knew that it became really fun!
What’s next? Are you going to continue running marathons? 

I hope to run another marathon in my lifetime but I definitely think that I will wait a few years to do so. I think that being in school and playing another sport on top of the training was an added challenge that I can hopefully avoid next time I decide to run a marathon. 

Do you have any advice for other Winsor athletes who want to run 26.2?

It is 100 percent possible to do, even with school and if you are playing another sport and doing activities—you just have to know your limits. Also, if you are doubting your abilities to run all 26.2, I suggest running a half marathon before because it gives you a sense of accomplishment as well as some reassurance that you can do all 26.2. Definitely find a group or a coach to run with and keep yourself accountable—show up for the runs and you will be capable of finishing.