By Terence Crayton

Damon Smith Photo by Terence Crayton for BRONZEVILLE LIFE

What was your inspiration to run a marathon?

2022 is when my long-distance running journey began. I always thought people were crazy for running marathons; it seemed time-consuming and unnecessary. Then I learned my friend was training for his first marathon, and shortly after, my wife asked me if I was interested in participating in the Chicago Marathon w/ Gilda’s Club Chicago, a cancer support NFP- of which she sits on the Associate Board. I agreed! If I ran, I’d have to give it my all; the mental shift forced me to dig deep, change habits and train hard. 

What helped you to persevere?

Every component of my training with my running club, “MRDS” was about building endurance and learning about my body. We trained hard, and my coach pushed me while giving me the space to listen to my body. I was well prepared for the distance.

How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

I can’t answer this question without addressing why long-distance running became a thing for me initially. For the most part, I believe discipline separates us and helps define who we become in life. Training to complete a marathon with a time goal requires a level of discipline that is transferrable to accomplishing any goal we set for ourselves in life. I want to be the best person I can be. Running has become a way to keep me humble and honest with what I say I want for myself. Every day, even the days I don’t run, I remind myself of why I run.

What does your training consist of?

My training approach fundamentally poses the question, how can I improve my quality of life, not just for a marathon, but for an enhanced quality of life for decades to come? Of course, I get in multiple long-distance runs every week; but I also focus on diet, rest, and strength training. I cut out meat and alcohol completely and intentionally cook most of my primarily plant-based meals. Early in my training, I was dealing with knee issues, the root cause being a weakness in my “IT Bands.”  I discovered the importance of strength training correlates to distance running and overall body maintenance. 

How did you prevent injuries?

Running-related injuries can stem from a variety of root causes. Prior injuries, muscle tightness/ weakness, the shoes you wear, the terrain you run, malnutrition, etc. I was concerned about the possibility of injury, to be honest, so I consulted with my doctor early on. I also watched “runner-focused” videos on YouTube and aligned myself with experienced runners. They enforced the importance of hydration, sodium retention, stretching, and much more. Nutrition, hydration, and stretching are what I believe to be the top 3 in preventing injury. Finally, I was advised to visit Fleet Feet to be fit for running shoes. They evaluate your running and recommend shoes that best fit your running style. 

Photo by Terence Crayton for BRONZEVILLE LFIE

What was the feeling like when you crossed the finish line?

Crossing the finish line was a proud moment. That moment proved all the training, disciple, and early am run to be well worth it. I ran with a stomach cramp from mile 22 through the finish line, and above all, I was relieved to be a FINISHER in my first of many marathons.

What training phase are you in right now, and when does it end?

Right now, I’m enjoying NOT running long distances. I want to run 6 – 10 miles 2-3 times weekly to increase my speed and mobility. My next big goal is to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon 2024. So, getting stronger and faster and improving my technique is what I need to do. I’m registered for next year’s Chicago Marathon, so I’m in maintenance mode until May.

What do you do professionally? How do you integrate work, training, and family life?

I am a Real Estate Professional and Licensed Drone Pilot. I have a beautiful wife (Joy) and daughter (Iyanna). I try to run early in the morning to get it done. It’s a great way to start my day. My daughter often rides her bike as I run alongside her. This was and will continue to be how I show the importance of working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I work out at home when I’m not in a “gym mood.” Everyone close to me knows how important running has become, and I’m blessed that they make it easy for me to do what I need to do.