Going the Distance

Vic Morales '98 has been running for 33 years and will be competing in his fifth marathon this fall. He was featured in the March issue of Urbandale Living magazine.

By Amy Kort
Story courtesy of Urbandale Living magazine and www.iowalivingmagazines.com.

For nearly 33 years, Vic Morales has been lacing up his running shoes.

"It was the first day of seventh-grade track, and I was small and skinny: he says. "I wasn't a good fit for field events, sprints and hurdles, so the coaches told me and a few other seventh and eighth graders to just start running around the track. After 20 laps, I was the only one left running and finally stopped; I could have kept going. But from my very first step, I felt like I had transcended into some other world. I just loved it and the feeling it gave me. So, I've been running ever since. lt's my daily therapy."

Morales says he tends to run alone, preferring the "me" time and chance to recharge and recalibrate. He's part of the Serious Coin Running Club (SCRC), though.

"But in the end, it's hard to explain, but what you feel is worth it."

Vic Morales

"I joined that group when I was 19 years old and interning at Principal in 1993. It's made up of a bunch of downtown workers who gather during lunch and on Saturday mornings for runs. I try to join them as much as I can."

As far as marathons go, he'll be participating in his fifth race this fall.

"Marathons are about the challenge to test your physical and mental strength. Each marathon I've completed, I've changed for the better. You learn a lot about yourself."

He says he trains by planning and building up slowly.

"You need to get your body used to running for a vary long time and know how to properly fuel it along the way: he says. "It takes a lot of discipline, but if you map out your training three to five months in advance of the race, you'll be ready. There are several pre-packaged marathon training schedules you can find online. but I end up morphing things I like about different plans into one that works for me. A lot of my friends hire coaches, too, to help them out. And group runs are extremely beneficial, especially for those longer runs."

Morales says the first step to getting into marathons is to pick a race and set a goal time, as it will serve as a motivational beacon when the waters get rough.

"Maybe it doesn't have to be a goal time; you just want to finish. And that's OK. From there, reach out to family and friends who may have run a marathon. Ask questions and learn from their experiences. If you don't know anyone, join a local running group. Capital Striders is an excellent place to start, and they hold weekly training runs. You'll meet a lot of people to help teach you about marathon training. I also watch videos on YouTube to learn from others' experiences. Either on your own, or with the help of others, develop a plan/strategy for your training.

He suggests not beating yourself up if you don't follow the plan to a T. Know going in that it may need to be adjusted or tweaked depending on where you're at. He recommends getting a proper shoe, as you don't want to "put the wrong tires on your car. And just remember, you'll be joining an elite club as only 0.5 percent of the U.S. population — the latest stat seen, anyway — has ever completed a marathon."

Morales says to make time with your significant others, including your pets and kids.

"Marathon training can be taxing not only on your body, but your time with your family. You'll need his or her support — and your kids, too — so be sure to return that support with gratitude and support as well."

Final advice? He says there, no easy way to train for a marathon. "It's going to require hard work, plain and simple. And, yes, it's going to test you mentally like you've never been tested. So, preparation is key. But in the end, it's hard to explain, but what you feel is worth it. You may not be able to walk the next day or two, but the human body is amazing, and it will recover and come back stronger — physically and mentally."