For many of the runners participating in the 23rd annual Austin Marathon, the race serves as a qualifier for entering prestigious marathons like the races in Boston and New York City. But for UT students Michael George and Jessie Neuendorff, competing means accomplishing goals.
Traditionally, training for a marathon is a rigorous process that can begin as much as a year in advance. But George, a biomedical engineering freshman, began training only two months prior to the big race.
Following a specific schedule, George runs 4 to 5 miles every day, and 13 miles on the weekend. He adds 3 miles to his routine each weekend to increasingly build endurance.
George said he has to mentally prepare himself for the long runs. Instead of thinking of the miles, he envisions running laps. Since 3 miles is the equivalent of one lap, running nine laps sounds a lot more manageable than 26.2 miles.
George said running is his way of unwinding and letting go of stress.
“As a college student, I have so many things to deal with, such as church, family, friends, tests, quizzes, homework, IM sports and clubs,” George said. “Running is my escape from all of this. When I run, it’s just me and my thoughts, and I really enjoy that time to myself.”
Like George, Neuendorff sees running as the perfect stress reliever. Unlike George, she did not grow up enjoying the sport of running. After playing volleyball throughout high school, she began running in college as a way to relax.
Neuendorff and her friends decided to run the half marathon together and began training in October.
“It’s more mental than I thought it is,” Neuendorff said. “Even when you’re really tired, and you know you have to go run 11 miles, you prepare yourself mentally at the beginning of the day.”
Neuendorff said the hardest part of the training process has been finding the time every day and staying committed even through exhaustion and sickness. Neuendorff said her sister, who is a freshman at UT, kept her motivated throughout the process and challenged her to keep going.
Training and running such long distances have required commitment and motivation from both George and Neuendorff.
Neuendorff runs with her roommate so they can push each other to keep going. Signing up early and knowing she’d paid for it also helped her to stay committed.
George said hydration and stretching have been key to his running journey. He said maintaining his health has been a priority throughout the process.
“Running a marathon has always been a lifelong goal of mine,” George said. “I want to accomplish it sooner rather than later.”