Before training for the Amica Marathon in Newport, RI, 23-year-old Samantha Grasso says that she could probably only run about 4 miles max. She was always a runner, but mostly a sprinter. After months of training, changing her diet, giving up weekends for long runs, and more, the idea of simply wanting to complete a marathon began to mean so much more; in fact, Sam believes that crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. Follow along to find out how you can start training for your very first marathon — because according to Sam, once you run one, it won’t be your last!
ES: How long ago did you start training? Were you running inside or outside?
Sam: “I started training for the October race back in March with my boyfriend. Most of our weekly runs, which consisted of 5-8 miles each, were outside. If it was raining, we’d run inside at the gym. But on the weekends, we completed our long runs, anywhere from 9-20 miles each, outside – rain or shine! My longest run was 20 miles prior to the race, so the marathon in Newport was the first time I actually finished 26.2 miles. It was amazing!”
ES: It couldn’t have all been easy. Was there ever a time during your training when you thought, “I just can’t do this?”
Sam: “YES!! About three weeks before my marathon, I found myself struggling to complete my runs. I was physically exhausted and contemplated giving up. However, my training partner/boyfriend pushed me through it. Once I realized how far I had come, and remembered all the hours I had put into training and all the Friday and Saturday nights I had given up, I knew I was going to finish. I wouldn’t quit.”
ES: Athlete-to-athlete, I have to ask. What was your pre-race meal?
Sam: “The night before the marathon, I had pasta and garlic bread. When I woke up the morning of, I had oatmeal mixed with peanut butter.”
ES: Sounds delicious! So tell us about the race. Did you feel ready for it?
Sam: “The race was full of so many energetic, supportive runners and spectators from start to finish. Everyone was cheering each other on, whether they were running or standing on the side line. It was unlike any atmosphere that I had ever experienced! I did feel like I was prepared. But at the same time, if I wasn’t, it was too late!”
ES: What was the hardest part?
Sam: “The hardest part of the race were miles 20-25. I felt like I ran into a brick wall and had to force myself to get through it, one mile at a time. Once I saw that mile 25 marker, I got a second wind and sprinted until the finish… or at least it felt like I was sprinting! It was such an amazing rush, both mentally and physically!
ES: What about the easiest?
Sam: “The easiest part of the race was the first 13 miles. I ran the this portion with my sister’s fiance, so we were able to talk and distract one another from constantly thinking about what mile we were on. Mile 26 was also easy. Once I saw the finish line, it was a mixture of feeling accomplished, proud, and wanting to just sit down.”
ES: Would you do it again?
Sam: “Not right now, because I have to give my knees some rest. But I think I would run another marathon sometime in the future. If you can do it once, you can do it again!”
ES: If you could give some words of advice to aspiring runners, what would you say?
Sam: “Make sure you focus on diet and stay positive! If you’re not hydrated or don’t have enough of carbohydrates in your system, it’s going to make the run seem impossible. Being positive will also build you up mentally! If you want to train for a marathon, I would also recommend training with someone. Having a running partner definitely helps when you’re running 15 miles at a time!”
ES: And last but not least, what did you divulge in post-race?
Sam: “After the race, I immediately ate a cliff bar and two pieces of pizza!”
Thank you, Sam, for sharing your inspirational story with all of us here at TwentyTweets!