They are a crazy breed of people to some - those runners willing to put their bodies to the test for 26.2 miles. But there is a science behind marathon training and an undeniable motivation that keeps these runners on the move.
Laced up and ready to go, it is one step at a time for running enthusiasts - but lots of them! "Every time that we meet is a celebration and we act that way, because it is a celebration that you got up and moved," said GoRun founder, Phyllis Aswell.
Aswell started GoRun, a running training program in Lake Charles, five years ago with about 40 runners. Now it has grown to 250, including Rebecca Stockman and Jason Guidry, who had both never really completed more than a mile. "I was getting older, I was definitely not doing anything at all, so I just wanted to try to be active," said Guidry.
Stockman took her inspiration from an episode of NBC's "Biggest Loser," where she saw contestants finish a marathon. "I thought if they can do it, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to do it," she said.
Stockman's immediate goal was to do a marathon: 26.2 miles. "I had my eyes set on it and I wasn't going to veer off of it," she said.
Guidry wanted to start with a 5K - about three miles - and possibly build up to a longer race. But as his endurance, outlook, and body changed - 60 pounds lighter - he decided to run the Houston Marathon, making a dream come true. "My family was there and so it was very emotional seeing them there and them supporting me all the way through and it was so good to see that finish line!" he said.
Aswell says conditioning your body for a half or full marathon takes a solid six months of training, running between two and five miles three days a week and longer runs on Saturdays. "We take you up a few miles and then we drop you down a few miles and then we take you up a few miles, but we train with the philosophy of easy and hard days," she said.
Each step of the way, the runners say they had to learn to listen to their bodies when rest was needed, take every other day off and live out the saying that it is "a marathon, not a sprint."
"It really is one step at a time," said Guidry, "you start off slow and you just build up."
Build up to accomplishing what they once thought was unattainable and learning that you really can do what you set your mind to. "When I run and when I get to a point where I think I can't do it, I ignore that and I say 'I can do it and just one foot in front of the other, just one foot in front of the other,'" said Stockman.
The number of marathon finishers across the country is on a fast, climbing trend. In 2000, nearly 300,000 people crossed marathon finish lines. Last year that number spiked at 525,000.
If you want to see what distance running is all about, GoRun will have its next 29-week full and half marathon training program registration on Saturday, July 7th at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Click here for more information.