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Finding Your Motivation

Finding Your MotivationThis year's marathon runners give us a look at the different aspects of training.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.16.10] For the eighth year in a row, students, faculty, alumni and friends from across the country will join together to make the trek from Hopkinton, Mass. to Boston as part of the President's Marathon Challenge (PMC) team. 

With about 200 runners each year, previous teams have raised nearly $2 million in support of nutrition, medical and fitness programs at Tufts, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. 

More about the President's Marathon Challenge

So how does one prepare for such a physical endeavor?

Four members of the 2010 team give us a look at the different ways to train: alone, with the help of a personal trainer, in a group or with a buddy.

Going it Alone

While training on your own can often be a true test of will power, Cummings School of Vetrinary Medicine student Cecilia Murch (V'13) finds it enjoyable.

"I like working for my own goals and feeling like I am setting the pace as opposed to following someone else's pace," Murch says. "It's a nice time to collect my thoughts and be away from the usual busyness of the day."


Though having to keep yourself motivated and accountable for reaching your training goals may seem daunting, Murch says it also offers a welcome break in the routine.

"I am a first-year vet student, so my workload is intense and I just can't wait to change into my running shorts just to step away from reading for a little bit," she says. "And even when you run alone you see the other runners-a few of my classmates are doing it as well-and they will ask me how my training is going, so just knowing you're a part of a team provides a great support system."

A Helping Hand

For Brittney Flynn (A'10), the months of training since winter break have been challenging due to a bout of knee pain. But thanks to Tufts' personal trainers, she says she has been able to stay on track.

"When I first met with the trainer, he told me I had to stop running, which was probably the hardest thing to hear," Flynn says. "But really, that's what it took for me to finally start feeling better, to accept that I need to go through the process of healing before I could get back into running again."

Flynn had never worked with a trainer before, but says the expertise was important in helping her know when to modify her regimen.

"I kept saying to my trainer, ‘My knee hurt on Saturday, but then on Sunday I went running again,' and he'd say to me, ‘Typical runner's mentality, always testing it out,'" she says with a laugh. "I had gotten into this mindset that I had to keep running, keep going no matter what, but I learned sometimes a little time off is essential to my training."

Traveling in Packs 

For Arielle Carpenter (A'10), the group runs held by PMC coach Don Megerle every Wednesday and Sunday are what keep her going.

"I totally rely on the group runs for my training-I've barely missed one yet," Carpenter says. "If I didn't know that when I got up at 6 a.m. that I was going to be meeting up with a group of people who are all going through the exact same thing, and that Don would be there with fruit and water supporting us, I don't know if I would be able to do it on my own."

With no real running background, Carpenter says with group support anyone can run with the PMC team.

"I think it is a really great experience to be a part of something I never thought I would be able to be a part of and to take advantage of the opportunities that the team and Tufts can offer you," she says. "I am proud to be running with the Tufts team and it is great to know that when I graduate this year I can still be a part of it as an alum."

The Buddy System

Like Murch, Dan Hatfield (N'11) does a lot of training on his own due to his busy schedule as a graduate student at the Friedman School. But for days when he wants a running buddy, Hatfield says he has used the PMC network to find runners in his area.

"I commute from the suburbs and it is hard for me to make it to Tufts for the early morning runs," Hatfield says. "But I have been able to connect with some other people on the team who are also unable to make the team runs and we will meet up with other runners at different points during the day."


Hatfield says a certain level of discipline is needed to assure the best marathon experience, but the Tufts program makes it easy to stay on track.

"One of the great things about this program is that they start training so early-you're doing 10 to 11 mile runs through the fall, so it puts down a good foundation," he says. "And really, the Boston Marathon is really such a monumental event. I grew up in this area and it's really great to be a part of that with other people from Tufts."

Story by Kaitlin Provencher, Web Communications
Photos by Joanie Tobin, University Photography

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