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Runner's Diary: Joe Bell

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I just started the beginning of my marathon-specific training with a July 5 10K in Madison.

That was an intermediate race that I wanted to target to see where I was. It went better than I thought. I wanted to run under 36 minutes, and I ran 35:25. I was pretty happy with that.

It told me that I am starting in a better spot than I thought I would be. Recently, I have been doing a lot of 5Ks. I ran four of them in June, and I never ran all that great. They were all disappointing and slower than I thought they would be. But last week, the Quaff On! club had a timed mile, and that went pretty well. It was a surprise.

I think the big reason was our recent change in weather. It has been awesome. I guess that is something that people could pick up on. Take advantage of the weather. If it is cool in the morning, go run.

But in the 10K I ran, I felt like I had anticipated. I went out at my marathon goal pace to see how it feels. You can use shorter races as a measuring stick. I don’t worry about 5K times; I treat them as training runs for the marathon.

Of course, you have to base everything on your current fitness level. You can’t say, ‘I want to qualify for Boston,’ then run the pace to qualify for that on that day. You have to race to what your fitness level is. With the marathon training, you just try to go a little faster and a little farther. It is slow, consistent improvement.

If you don’t run the times you expect, you definitely have to stay realistic. If I don’t run a time I expect, I don’t get too heartbroken anymore. It’s obviously disappointing, but it fuels the fire to reach your goal.

I have been fortunate that I haven’t had injuries. I have the nagging stuff, some leg problems. I’ve got a hip flexor, some groin pain, aches, an upper Achilles that gets tight. I’ve got to stay on top of my recovery. That means doing the foam rolling and the icing after a hard run, and it means to make sure I am stretching properly after a run. It’s a pain to put ice on your legs, but it helps, and it is worth it.

And I will take days off if I am hurting that badly. It’s that fine line you have to dance.

Your running schedule always is an ever-changing entity. You have to adjust it throughout. Not every day is going to follow your plan, but at some point you have to get in those workouts.

My workouts are a little different because I have been trying to work in more cross-training, more easy bike rides, more focus on cross-training and core exercises. I definitely don’t swim. I would drown. I don’t use weights, but I do a lot of lunges and squats. High reps of things like planks. It gives you strength for the later miles, and it helps me to be less sore and to recover faster. It is strange. I am not sure how that works, but it does.

The Republic will be following Joe Bell in his preparation for the Sept. 27 Mill Race Marathon. Look for his next runner’s diary July 20. Contact Bell for tips, advice or encouragement at

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