“Don’t say that all marathon runners are crazy. Although I guess being a little crazy does help.” Coach Mike Anderson may joke about the mental stability of his training group, but he solemnly swears that no matter who you are, you can be a successful marathon runner.
The Pepperdine marathon training group started running together in October, with one common goal: to complete the Los Angeles Marathon. The group started with a three-mile diagnostic run to find the pace of each individual member. The group gradually increased its mileage to prepare for the big day, March 3.
They run together one day a week, taking their longer journeys as a group — or rather, as a few three-to-seven member pace groups within a group.
“Not many people can get themselves to run on their own,” Anderson said. “Knowing there are 30 people waiting on the corner of PCH and John Tyler at 6 a.m., well that gets you out of bed.”
The ten-mile course they run together goes down from Old Malibu Road, to Trancas, back past the pier, and then up Happy Trails to Pepperdine.
“We provide a support system, where they have a coach, and have the opportunity to get information about other fields of nutrition and sports medicine studies. I give them that, but they do so much more in terms of supporting each other. They couldn’t have the program without each other,” Anderson said.
According to the coach, anyone can train for and run a marathon if given about six months of training. About 90 percent of people, of all ages, ethnicities, and physical builds, finish a marathon after completing a marathon training course.
“The L.A. Marathon is a dream that a dozen people out of a group would say was a goal they would like to achieve by the end of their life. Thirty students are already achieving that goal now,” Anderson said.
When Anderson first came to Pepperdine two years ago, he found the enrollment in running physical education classes to be very low, about eight or nine students in each of the two offered classes. “I knew there was a better way to get students to run,” he said.
Now with 30 people in this extra-curricular program, he looks forward to next year’s plans. PE 101 and 102 will have marathon training focus classes, which will not only build a base for marathon runners, but encourage the average student.
In the current group, Anderson has beginning runners as well as advanced. “Pretty much it’s split half and half,” he said. “We’ve got 15 or 16 runners that have run cross country before, or have been athletes their whole lives.”
The other half will successfully complete the marathon and would have never thought of themselves as runners. “They never considered themselves athletes — it’s not just for those that stand out athletically,” Anderson said. “I can get anybody to run a marathon as long as they can put in the time.”
Mike Anderson has run the AIDS Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the Boston Marathon among others. He is a Pepperdine faculty member in the physical education department and a 1992 Pep alumnus with a sports medicine major. He ran cross country for two years at Pepperdine, running his first L.A. Marathon 10 years ago as a senior.
“I never wanted to run again in my life. I was a wreck after six weeks, and it wasn’t for eight or nine years that I got back into it and wanted to do it again,” he said.
Running 26.2 miles takes a toll on the body as well as the mind, but the support system that this group offers helps take the strains off both of those areas.
“You don’t have to worry about marking off mileage, what exercise to do next, how many miles to run the next day, how to deal with injuries—even refreshments, and transportation are included,” Anderson said. The team is also excited about going to the expo at the L.A. Marathon site together as a group the day before the race.
“It’s great to have the support of Pepperdine, and having it be recognized as a course within physical education,” Anderson said.
The program also delves into other areas including sports medicine, nutrition and exercise physiology. The group enjoyed a lecture given by a nutrition professor on how to properly prepare the body nutritionally for their running.
“We met with a nutritionist, which was a big help for preparing our bodies for this type of activity. We have to eat a lot of carbohydrates — they are the primary fuel for exercise — and get as much sleep as we can, especially the nights before our long runs,” freshman Kristi Arthur said.
Next year they will begin to integrate more of that into the program, with regular lectures by guest speakers.
The training group is rapidly approaching their moment of truth, a time when all the training will be put to good use.
Arthur, who’s suffering from some knee complications, has a few reservations. “I am excited about it, but my knee feels like it might hold me back,” she said. “Regardless, I’m going to do it, I will not quit. All this training will not be for nothing. I’m going to do it even if I am in excruciating pain. Our group is really dedicated. I can tell everyone is really excited about the marathon, and running to our goal … I’m really looking forward to it.”
The team is encouraging students to come out to the L.A. Marathon and watch it.
There will be ten entertainment centers, live music and food — practically a party at every mile mark.
“There is a unifying type of theme there,” Anderson said. “When you have a community event bringing a diverse group, running through a diverse area, as a spectator, you can see the city of Los Angeles pull together. It’s a pretty amazing thing.”
February 21, 2002