For Ellie Larsen ’22 a love of running started in middle school when she had an intrateam rivalry with another student. As she’s grown, she’s realized that running can simply be about enjoyment as much as competition – so much so that in November she set off on a training run that turned into a full-fledged marathon.
“I've done a lot of running on my own and started to really enjoy long distance running as something I do for myself and not as a way to ‘win’ against anyone else,” said Larsen.
“I wanted to run a marathon to push myself and see what I was capable of. I wanted to show myself that it's possible to reach ambitious goals and do hard things.”
Larsen followed Hal Higdon's four-month training plan for first-time marathon runners. This popular program detailed each week of training and advised Larsen to complete three medium length (three to 10 miles) runs during the school week and a long run on the weekend which she built up to 18 miles.
“I squeezed in most of my midweek runs either before class in the morning or during lunch or a free period, while my weekend runs were usually around two or three hours and took up most of each Saturday morning,” she said.
“Because we weren't able to leave campus this past semester, I had to run a lot of loops around campus for all of my long runs. But that meant I got to see lots of teachers walking their dogs, which I enjoyed.”
Dean of Athletics Laura Clay, who is also Larsen’s advisor, supported Larsen’s training throughout.
“Coach Clay gave me constant encouragement and was even understanding when I showed up to Cookie Break multiple times still sweaty, having just gotten back from a run,” said Larsen.
“She told me that before her first marathon, someone told her that once you get to twenty-two miles you can get to twenty-six point two. That same advice that got her through her first marathon helped me keep going and finish mine.”
On Nov. 29, while running solo around Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT, Larsen decided to stretch what would have been a long training run into a full, 26.2-mile marathon.
“I would've liked to have run in a formal race but there aren't any marathons going on in Vermont right now,” she noted.
Larsen feels she learned a great deal from the experienced.
“I learned how important it is to be consistent with your training,” she shared. “I started training for a marathon around December of last year, but I injured my knee before the race because of how inconsistently I had been running. Consistency is probably the hardest part of running a marathon since it can be difficult to make time for multiple runs every week for four months before the race.
“My advice to people considering running a marathon is to not let the idea that a marathon is super long or super hard stop you from going for it. As some graffiti that I run by all the time in my hometown says, ‘everything is hard before it is easy.’ This is definitely true for running a marathon, since each new distance that you build to during training can seem daunting at first, but each time you run farther than you've ever run before, your previous runs become easier and easier.”
Larsen, who played field hockey in the fall in addition to her marathon training, is also active as a member of NOIR and performed in the NOIR dance showcase, is a member of St. Mary’s Choir, and will return to campus to play basketball in the winter. Off campus she also participates virtually with her hometown robotics team and founded the Women Initiating Necessary Discussions on Opportunities for Women in STEM (WINDOWS) virtual webinar series.