Peppercomm’s marathon man

Ray Carroll is far more than Peppercomm’s administrative coordinator. He’s also a member of PepperRunners, our very own running team. Unlike most other PepperRunners, though, Ray is something of a rookie. But, oh my, what a rookie.

color runIn just a year, Ray (pictured strutting his stuff with other PepperRunners) has gone from being a non-runner to a serious competitor, who has finished a 5K and two half marathons. In an effort to find out what makes Ray run (and how his approach might help other late-adopters), I slowed down our resident Marathon Man long enough to ask how he does that thing he does so well.  Check out his answers. There’s some great advice here.

1.) You’ve run a number of races in the past few months and seem to be getting more and involved in fitness.  What initially prompted your decision?  
My motivation is the desire to live a long, healthy life. So I signed up for my first organized run – NYC Half Marathon – with a group of coworkers. We helped each other and raised money for a good cause.  Immediately after I finished the race, I signed up for the San Francisco Half and booked vacation around that.

2.) Have you also changed your diet? If not, do you intend to?
Diet is half the battle of weigh control, so I discussed my eating habits with a nutritionist. I’ve always known which foods I should be eating, and consultation showed that my portion control as well as dietary inconsistency could be improved… A strict regimen is what I need and, honestly, that’s still a work in progress.

3.) What was the most difficult thing about starting a long-distance running regimen? What was the easiest?
Getting started is the most difficult part especially when you can’t run very far.  I never enjoyed running, so I planned ways to keep interest – scenic runs are always good – and found ways to overcome psychological aspects.  The races were goals that I set and I needed to keep myself going, so I’d drive to a friend’s house – about 12 miles away – and I’d run/jog/walk my way home.  There’s no skipping laps that way.  Also, watching others run with ease tapped into my competitive nature.  I’d try my best to keep up with them and eventually become a better runner.

4.) What has running taught you about yourself?
Completing any race provides a great sense of accomplishment and I cannot explain the wave of emotions that rushed over me after completing an organized long-distance run.  I always knew I could do whatever I set my mind to, but I had a hard time picturing myself run a half marathon.  It feels great mentally and physically, and has boosted my ego in so many ways.

5.) What are your personal fitness goals for the future? And, are there other fitness activities (i.e. swimming, cycling, etc.) that you might add to your overall routine?
I hope to defy nature and keep getting healthier as I grow older.  I was riding my bike to work last year, and will start that up again soon.  It’s a great cardiovascular exercise, and I even saved some money while sparing myself a stressful subway ride.  I think it’s best to incorporate exercise into your daily routine whenever possible.

6.) Any advice for readers who may have been hesitant to start a running program like yours?
Running is an uphill battle when you first start out and it’s easy to give up, but stick with it and you’ll build confidence and stamina. Concentrate on improving your form and finding cadence, and avoid overexerting yourself.  You need to push yourself but do so without risking injury.  Watching faster runners and not being able to keep pace can also be defeating, just keep in mind that cutting time and increasing speeds will come at the next level. Try to find fun physical activities so that exercise becomes a pleasure and not a chore.

10 thoughts on “Peppercomm’s marathon man

  1. Great post, Ray! Keep running! Your first 5K was also my first 5k. It was a great feeling.

  2. Ray, congrats! Your last line is key: running can – and should – be a pleasure, not a chore. You need to find what works for you to make it that. For me, I love running with my husband or a friend and having a long chat. When Lia and I ran the marathon together, I loved doing our long runs together. When I’m alone, I download NPR podcasts, or chick lit novels on my iPod. That keeps me more engaged on long 20 mile training runs that music does. Keep it up – running really can be the key to a healthier, happier life.

  3. Steve (RepMan): I really appreciate you recognizing my attempts for better health. Whether you’re bouncing around on kangoos, scaling mountains or ducking and weaving in a boxing ring, your dedication to exercise is contagious. Thanks!

  4. Hi, Mari: That 5K should be lots of fun. I’m really looking forward to it. Let me know if we want to train together after work sometime. We’ll run our Uncorporate Challenge route.

  5. Ray!! I’m doing the Electric Run too. It’s my first 5K in probably about 10 years. You’ll be my inspiration throughout. Speaking of, I need to start training!

  6. Thanks, Carl. Good question! It helped that my friend still goes to church in his old neighborhood not far from where I live. He’d pick me up afterwards and I’d get back to my car that way.

  7. Thanks, Lia. I know at least one run we’ll be doing together (it’s Electric). Also, I should have mentioned that you and others here at Peppercomm were my inspiration. Without your success, I’m not sure I’d have tried running half marathons. You ran the full 26.2 mile NYC Marathon, and I hope to reach that level one day.

  8. Thanks, Lia. Some columns write themselves, and Ray provided great answers and advice. My personal favorite is the one in which he goes to a friend’s house 12 or 13 miles away, and has no choice but to run all the way home.

  9. Ray, this is really inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    One question: How did you get your car back from your friend’s house?

  10. Ray! This is SO fantastic. First of all, I’m so proud of you. I know how hard you’ve worked! I, too, caught the running bug fairly recently and think you hit the mark with this. I can’t wait to sign up for some races with you soon!