Saucony 26 Strong: Putting it in Perspective

26 Strong runners are halfway to their fall marathon goals

The Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony, pairs experienced marathoners (“vets”) with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals. Although running is an individual sport, these runners will exemplify how we are stronger as teams than alone.

Team 1 cadet Dale Arakawa had an experience that put everything in perspective for him. The 48-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., is training for his first marathon, the Long Beach Marathon on Oct. 13. Veteran runner Chris Spensley, 47, from Newport Beach, Calif., has been helping him increase is mileage for the big event.

“I’m just beginning to venture into those long runs,” says Dale, who’s longest race before this year was a 5K. “I’m optimistic that these planned longer runs will get me closer to that marathon level of running. But I’m aware I still have a lot of work to do.”

While the training is going as planned, Dale got a jolt last month that has helped him stay focused on his goal. “I attended the funeral of my friend’s daughter who was only 27 years old,” he says. “It was one of those that was well before its time—and it just didn’t make sense.

“The next day, I ran with Chris in Newport Beach. It was awesomely sunny, beautiful landscape and just overall a grand day,” he continues. “I guess sometimes death reminds you of life and it reminded me of how my running struggles and small ailments simply pale in comparison to those with REAL problems. For that reason, I am grateful to have this opportunity to put a notch in my belt and push myself beyond my own limits and chalk up 26.2 miles.

Dale’s longest run is 13 miles, just this past weekend. “He had a personal best—with a 10 percent grade hill thrown in at mile 9,” Chris says. Like lots of runners increasing their distance, Dale is finding that recovery is taking long that he’s used to.

“The toughest part for me has been finding large gaps of time to run and run and then recuperate,” he says. “A solid 1-plus hour run takes me about the same amount of time to cool down and recuperate. And then there’s the nap factor—it makes me darn tired!

“I realize everyone has their own obstacles (mine are kids, taxing job, house chores, social events, etc., but mine are no worse than anyone else. I just need to work thru it and find the balance and stay dedicated to the process.”

The full marathon length is still a bit intimidating to Dale (I try not to think about the 26 yet, and focus on the now”) but his coach his helping him through it.

“Chris has been a wealth of valuable information and motivation. I know he will ensure I get where i need to be,” Dale says.

Chris also shared with him one of his favorite quotes from Bill Rodgers:

“The long run puts the tiger in the cat”

“It’s now definitely one of my favorite quotes,” Dale says. “So true!”

To learn more about the Saucony 26 Strong program and its runners, visit www.26strong.com.

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