Keep Fit: Accidental Marathon Training on the East End

The best way to start a summer day
The best way to start a summer day

I’m committed to running my first marathon—and hopefully to qualify for Boston—late this fall.

In the world of running challenges, conquering the marathon has still managed to elude me. But late fall is the perfect goal for a Hamptonite to train for the 26.2 miles. 1. That gives you a minimum of 15 weeks to up your mileage and 2. If something goes horribly wrong and you injure yourself, you won’t miss out on any of the fun summer activities. Winters beg ample time sitting indoors. But summers are for outdoor adventures that turn into inadvertent marathon training. Which leads me to reason No. 3: If I put in the mileage in preparation for a marathon, I can supplement my training with the outdoor summer activities that happen to constantly present themselves in the Hamptons.

The idea that I could potentially be ready to run a fall marathon came about backwards, when I woke up with the intention of doing the most quintessential of Hamptons activities—going to the beach—and ended up participating in my own mini triathlon.

I started the day by biking the 2.5 miles to the ocean, simply because it’s faster than fighting traffic and because biking renders parking issues nonexistent. Five miles biking total.

Regardless of whether I actually do it, I think about running every day. I brought sneakers with me to the beach, because I knew that the only way I would head out would be to do it at the water’s edge. Even in intense heat, there’s always the tiniest breeze at the ocean that becomes even cooler as it skims the water’s edge.

Thoughts of scouting out a slice of sand to take a catnap quickly turned into my building arm strength by playing in the waves in an attempt to beat the heat. Then, I suited up for my run, lacing up the sneakers and setting the watch for 15 minutes out, 15 minutes back.

Running on the sand is something that I am relatively new to, but by far its greatest perk is the glory of cooling off in the ocean immediately after. And, you can’t beat the view. Or the thrill of breaking up a pack of seagulls.

Beach running is more difficult than running on a solid surface, because the sand gives with each step. In addition to putting yourself in the best position to catch the occasional breeze, running by the water’s edge is ideal because that’s where the sand is most compact.

Within minutes my feet were soaked, because my legs turned into jello as they sunk into the sand and I couldn’t get out of the way of the whitewash fast enough. But I was content to enjoy the cool water that stayed in my shoes. (Note to readers: Febreze is necessary after a run through the ocean.)

I find that when my running goals are time-based (run for 30 minutes) rather than mileage based (run for four miles), I tend to focus more on the monotony of the activity. So, 15 minutes in, I picked up the pace in intervals. When I sprinted by my towel after 30 minutes, I was more than happy to head straight into the ocean to cool off.

The other great aspect about training in the summertime is that the sun stays out longer, so it’s easier to get a run in before or after daily work obligations.

Last week, I ran in the morning and then went to Wölffer Estate’s yoga in the vines in the evening. After a quick spritz of bug spray—careful going outside, it’s tick season!—we began our series of stretches under the fading light. The natural setting was beautiful, and the grapes looked even more delicious when viewed from upside down. When we were finished, we collectively agreed that 2013 would be a good harvest, as we just gave the grapes all of our good energy.

Props to instructor Dominique of Montauk’s Yoga Lila for helping me to stretch my tight runner’s muscles. Although when I commented as such, Dominique told me that I was more flexible than I gave myself credit for.

Probably from all of those non-running, outdoor adventures? It’s a sweet, sweet life living by the salty sea.

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