Training for the Marathon: Welcome to Sochi!

Training for the Marathon: Welcome to Sochi!
February 9, 2014, 12:30 pm
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Comcast SportsNet's Trenni Kusnierek is preparing to run this April's Boston Marathon. Over the next few months, she'll provide updates on her training . . . both physical and mental. This is the second of her reports.

Greetings from Sochi, Russia and the 2014 Winter Olympics! The past week has been a whirlwind of travel, work, adjusting to a nine-hour difference in time, and of course, running.

When I received the phone call confirming my assignment in Sochi, my second reaction (after jumping up and down with excitement) was: "How in the world will I maintain my training and fitness for Boston?"

In my mind, neither opportunity was negotiable. There was absolutely no way I would pass up an incredible time in my career, but I was also reluctant to give up on my goal of running Boston, and running it well enough to qualify for a fourth time.

I immediately reached out to my Runner's World coach, Jennifer Van Allen, who assured me I'd be just fine. Jen suggested I try and fit in as many runs as I am able, but did stress that getting in one or (ideally) two runs of at least 2-2.5 hours would be helpful.

Easy enough, right? Well . . . not as simple as it sounds.

Everyone back in the States is aware of the security concerns here in Sochi and it is something we've all been taking very seriously. This means that throwing on a pair of running shoes and heading out the door is not always possible.

A hurdle I was unaware of until landing in Russia is the fact they do not honor Daylight Savings Time, so the sun doesn't rise until almost 8:30 every morning. Running alone, in a foreign country and in the dark is not part of the "stay safe" plan, which means I've become very close with the treadmill.

While treadmill running is almost always mind numbing, it usually isn't a difficult process. However, when the treadmill's instructions are only in Russian and the speed and distance are kept in the metric system, the run gets a little more interesting. Let's just say I've abandoned all specific training plans and I have been running for time and completely on feel.

I have gotten outdoors for a run, but only once. (Warning: Name drop ahead!) Former Olympic swimmer and current NBC Olympic correspondent Summer Sanders is also training for the Boston Marathon. We happen to have a mutual friend and we also run at about the same pace, so we joined forces one morning and ran back and forth on the boardwalk for two hours!

The boardwalk is actually very conducive to running. One side of the walkway is actually "paved" with track material making it very easy on the legs. And the view is stunning as it runs along the Black Sea.

Running with Summer has definitely been a highlight of the trip thus far. She is obviously very accomplished, but Summer is also a woman in the male-dominated business of sports television. The two hours flew by as we discussed the ups and downs of our industry and life itself.

Oh . . . and we also ran to the border of Georgia.

I've been here eight days and I've run six times, but with curling competition getting underway on Monday, my training will take a hit. Most of my work days will begin at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning and often not end until after 10 in the evening. My patience and mental make up will be tested.

While running is a physical activity, long-distance running requires you to work your brain as well. It isn't easy to keep up confidence or a positive outlook through 16 weeks of training and a race that often lasts nearly four hours. My biggest challenge the next two weeks may not be hitting the pavement, but instead not allowing a down week to derail all the work I've already put in during the first six weeks.