Once again, we have the pleasure of hearing from Courtney Manning, the 30-year-old half-marathoner embarking on her journey to run her first full marathon this November. Having lost 148 pounds to date, Courtney continues to set new goals for herself in order to keep her on the health and fitness path—this is her biggest new goal. The interview below is the first of many we will have with Courtney as she makes her way through her fall marathon training program.
Q: What prompted you to commit to running a full marathon?
I knew I wanted to run a full marathon the same way I wanted to run my first half-marathon. After running 13.1 miles and feeling great, a marathon seemed like the next step. When I watched the New York City Marathon in the past, I always found the runners inspiring; yet, I always left thinking that running a marathon is something I could never do. Running a half-marathon made it seem possible.
Q: What do you think your biggest hurdle will be?
Calming my nerves. I find when I have a good run, anything seems possible, but on days when a run is difficult, I start to question why I wanted to do this in the first place. The self-doubt can be overwhelming and can make a difficult training schedule that much harder.
Today I am feeling great, but I do know tomorrow I might feel completely different. I’m four weeks into my training and it really has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I have had some bad runs lately, mostly due to the heat, but I have also had some great runs. I try to hold onto the better days, because it makes my goal seem like something I can actually achieve.
Q: What excites you about the marathon distance?
Like a half-marathon, running a full is something I never thought I could do. When I ran my first mile a year ago, I was on top of the world. When I was presented with the idea of running a half-marathon, I was absolutely certain I could not do it. I have since run two half-marathons and I will be running my third half in a couple of weeks. Running a full marathon is about setting new goals and proving to myself that I can do this.
Q: What scares you?
Other than the long distance, getting injured. Running is a high-impact sport and getting injured is something that definitely scares me. I am completely committed to running a marathon, and the idea of an injury stopping me from achieving my goal of crossing the finish line is devastating. I try not to get too wrapped up in that though and take care of myself the best way I know how, by icing and following my schedule when it tells me to take a rest day.
Q: Speaking of your training schedule: what thoughts went through your head at first glance?
I wanted my half-marathon training schedule back! I was not expecting an extra day of running and semi-long runs in the middle of the week. After seeing the schedule, I definitely got nervous and probably regretted saying I would do this. Once I adjusted to what it called for, I began to get excited.
Sticking to the schedule has been easy. I see the schedule as my map to the marathon. It is what will prepare me for getting through the long distance. I have been training with a friend who I will be running the race with and we run most of our training runs together. It makes it easier to commit to the schedule and show up when you know that someone is expecting you to be there.
Q: What’s it like running through a heat wave?
Not fun. My first day of training fell on a day that was 103 degrees. The first week and a half of training felt like torture. The heat and humidity was exhausting and made running a miserable experience.
Q: What gets you out there on days that are incredibly hot to a point where it may be unsafe?
I’m really determined to stick to the schedule and would not feel comfortable skipping runs unless I absolutely have to. In the long run, running in this weather will help me. While I don’t expect it to be 103 degrees in November, the weather is unpredictable and it could be an unseasonably warm day. Training in all weather conditions including extreme heat is important because you never know what the weather will be like on race day. The way I adjusted to running in freezing temperatures and the snow, is the same way I will get used to running in the heat.
Q: Has your body changed from your half marathon to now? In what ways?
While the number on the scale has not moved too much since my first half-marathon, my clothes have definitely gotten bigger so I know there has been a change. More importantly, I have just been getting healthier. My diagnosis with sleep apnea 16 months ago was the driving force behind my need to lose weight. I had a follow-up exam a couple of months ago and the sleep apnea is gone. As upsetting as the initial diagnosis was for me, I am grateful for it. Without it, I would not have lost 148 pounds and I definitely would not be training for a marathon.
Kenley Ferrara is a certified personal trainer and running coach for Professional Personal Training Systems (PPTS) as well as a Pacer for Nike. Her website is www.pptswellness.com
Read previous stories about Courtney: