California's Big Sur Marathon is one of the most picturesque races in the country. How I’m Training For The Big Sur

by Justin Rearden

In 2010, a co-worker in New Orleans convinced me to run the Twisted Ankle Marathon in Summerville, Georgia. That was my first marathon, and where I fell in love with running. The rewarding and emotional rush of crossing the finish line is what makes the months of tough training so worth it. And little did I know that six years, twenty-something pairs of shoes, and hundreds of miles later, I’d be running California’s Big Sur Marathon in April.

For this race, I’m stronger than ever. While some days are tough, and running a 16-miler in the snow recently isn’t ideal, I can still feel an ease in my running that I never knew would happen.

While training for the Music City Marathon in 2014, I developed two crippling injuries from running: plantar fasciitis and piriformis syndrome. Both were extremely painful and made running nearly impossible. It was defeating. After the marathon, I took six months off from something I enjoy dearly and went to see a physical therapist a few times a week.

As I started to heal, my physical therapist and I talked through my training patterns and why the injury occurred in the first place. I assumed that running and light stretching were sufficient to make my muscles strong enough to withstand further long-distance running. The assumption was wrong. So wrong! I learned quickly that cross training supported my love for long-distance running. After several different workouts, such as swimming, lifting weights and rock climbing, I learned that my body was responding differently.

However, I still wasn’t finding the right balance of activity until I thought about the process of running and what elements of working out supported this. I narrowed it down to three major workouts: Running, Strength Training and Flexibility. Each workout is a symbiotic relationship to the other, making the next workout easier than the last. Here is an overview of my workouts, why they help me, why I love them, and where in Nashville I do them.

RUNNING

Why it helps: This one is obvious. It gives you endurance and cardiovascular strength. And like they say, “practice makes perfect.”

Why I love it: I’m hooked on podcasts, so running gives me time to get a few hours of learning in each week. More than being physically challenging, running long distances is mentally challenging. I’m also and big fan of the excitement on race day!

Where I go: You’ll usually find me running shorter runs around East Nashville, sometimes in Shelby Park. For longer runs, I like to run around the city and explore places that I usually only see in my car.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Why it helps: Strength training makes your muscles stronger, so that when I run I can move my body with more ease. I do a lot of HIIT (high intensity interval training) which works a lot of different muscles in a short period of time.

Why I love it: I like that it’s a different type of challenge. I learn new muscle groups, new ways to strengthen them, and it’s always high energy. I love that my HIIT workouts are never longer than 40 minutes. When I’m doing two workouts in one day, its important that to be aware of how long each one takes to complete.

Where I go: I’m addicted to Kate Moore, who runs GetFit615. She is so positive and friendly, and she gets creative with the workouts she designs. Each day we are working on something different, so I’m constantly challenged, and everyone that works there is fun, funny and motivating.

FLEXIBILITY

Why it helps: Yoga has been a lifesaver for me. I never understood it, but now I’m hooked. It’s the prefect workout to stretch out tight muscles and remove any tension that I might be holding onto from running.

Why I love it: In the past I have used running for my time to disconnect and reset. Now that I’m hooked on podcasts, I use yoga as my time to tune in with my body and understand what might be causing any pain. When I’m training, I find it extremely important to listen to my body and work on little problems before they become major issues.

Where I go: For me, Shakti Power Yoga is my favorite studio in Nashville. The Farina sisters have created a great community of people and teachers that I know I can trust. I always leave there feeling connected and aware of my body.

IG: @justinrearden