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Fitting running into the puzzle of life

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  March 4, 2013 08:39 AM

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100allysonmanchester.jpg Allyson Manchester is one of six Boston Marathon entrants testing Polar personal training gear and blogging about it for Boston.com
I am incredibly excited to begin writing about my first-ever 26.2-mile adventure.

When talking to other runners, I love to learn how running fits into the unique puzzle of their everyday routine. After all, the non-running aspects of our lives definitely influence and help us to understand who we are as runners. Here is a little snapshot of the non-running pieces of my life:

apple-tree-roommates.jpgI live in Brighton with four roommates: Kellie, Corinna, Rachel, (me), and Brian (from left). Here, we are in an apple tree attempting to take a photo for our mantle and/or potential album cover. We are all friends from college and almost never look this idyllic.

beyonce.jpgI admire Beyonce as a strong and powerful woman. She is beautiful and has an enlightened view of the music industry, her talent, and her career. Her R&B power jams are the backbone of my running playlist and help me to get in touch with my inner “Sasha Fierce” (as frightening as that may be for other people around me). How can one not experience a sudden spring in her step while listening to “Love on Top”? My respect for Beyonce tripled when I recently watched the HBO documentary “Life is But a Dream.”

my-class-2012.jpgI am currently a graduate student in the English Department at Boston College. My favorite part about school (aside from the insurmountable reading load, clearly) is teaching a writing class to undergraduate students. I love my students and genuinely look forward to discussing essays, art, movies, and life with them every week. Check out my motley crew from last semester! Aren’t they precious?

cambridge-5K.jpgNow to the running part of my life.

My friend Kamilia and I ran an awesome 5K in Cambridge this winter with the undying support of our team manager, Bobby. As you may have guessed, my headband is not really meant to block sweat—it’s mostly for effect.

Last fall, I signed up to run the Boston Marathon with the Red Sox Foundation charity team. I am so proud to be running on behalf of this organization, especially because they are devoted to improving children’s education. The RSF runs an awesome program called Red Sox Scholars, which provides scholarships and mentoring to at-risk children in the Boston area.

Our team’s marathon guru, Skip Cleaver, designed a 20-week training schedule for intermediate runners. At first, I doubted my ability to follow a “schedule.” I had always enjoyed running on my own terms—I had the freedom to run extra miles if I was feeling good, and, at the same time, slow down (or not go running at all!) if I was tired. I was never someone who logged mileage or timed splits. In other words, running had always provided a counterweight to my hyper-scheduled existence, and I was afraid of turning it into another commitment or assignment.

I am currently on week 15 of training. While I do feel a level of accountability to my schedule, I am happy to say that I do not view it as my ball and chain. The schedule has helped me to rise above the comfortable 5-8 mile per day plateau that I had maintained for years—it’s made me noticeably faster and stronger. Above all, it has allowed me to think productively about my running. I am now acutely aware of the interplay between my runs, my sleep patterns, my food intake, and my energy levels. Feeling smarter about my running has given me the confidence to take on the physical challenge of the marathon.

I am excited to keep writing as we approach April 15th!

Allyson Manchester's guest blog entries will appear each Monday through April 15.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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