In November 2022 I ran my first ever marathon - the NYC marathon. It was one of the best days of my life and has changed me ever since. It was not only the run that impacted me. I ran with Team EMC - Every Mother Counts - a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. I found a cause I was proud to run for and a purpose.
I am so proud to announce that I have teamed up with Team EMC as their strength trainer. I have created a strength program for their runners specifically to help decrease the risk of injury, increase coordination, endurance and speed, and to generally position Team EMC to cross the finish line safely and confidently. I’m excited for the opportunity to contribute to the team on a whole new level.
In mid 2022 I was at an Every Mother Counts event where I learned about the staggering maternal mortality rates in the United States & around the world. I knew friends and family that experienced pregnancy and childbirth complications. Every Mother Counts message struck a chord. As a male- identifying person, you often feel like there's not a lot you can do to help when it comes to maternal health, but I was immediately drawn in and eager to find a way to help share this work and cause with others.
Immediately following Every Mother Counts presentation, founder Christy Turlington Burns spoke. She recently completed a marathon herself -- the chemical reaction of the dopamine was still evident. She was pumped! She was glowing and still on a high from the experience. Again, I was pulled in - I wanted some of that!
I’m a personal trainer that mostly focuses on strength training. However running a marathon has always been something I aspired to do - for many reasons. The biggest reason was to prove to myself that I was more than just “the weights guy” and to show that my fitness extended beyond the pull up bar.
I saw this as a sign and made it my business to do everything I could to be a part of the EMC NYC Marathon team. I could raise money to help bring awareness to maternal health everywhere, and also tick the marathon off my bucket list. What I didn’t know was the impact it would have on me!
Along my journey I’ve learned that for many women & pregnant people around the world, distance is one of the greatest barriers to receiving lifesaving maternal health care. In some parts of the world, people travel as far as 26 miles to reach a provider or clinic, even when in labor, and often on foot. In the average time it takes a runner to complete a marathon, approximately 150 women will die from complications related to pregnancy & childbirth.
The main reason we run is to make pregnancy & childbirth safe, respectful, and equitable for every mother, everywhere. With the support of my community, I raised $11,500 for EMC for the NYC Marathon which felt even more fulfilling than running it.
The race itself was everything and more. The preparation, the support, the energy, the pain, the mindset, and even the recovery. I learned so much about myself, my body and my mind in a little over 4 hours.
I was totally fine with the thought of putting myself through pain - I do it to my clients every day. And to be honest I partly wanted to run for them. To challenge myself the way I challenge them. And the greatest part was, they were some of my biggest cheerleaders. Apart from my family, my clients scattered themselves along the route to make sure I kept going. I had no idea that running a marathon would also strengthen the bond I have with each of them now.
To hear the cheers for EMC was another inspiration. I did not have my name on my jersey, but it did have Every Mother Counts written across my chest. It seemed that just as I began to doubt my ability to keep going, I would hear someone shout out “Go Every Mother Counts” and I would go.
But once it was over, it was over. And I had so many questions, so many thoughts. I wanted another chance. I wanted to do better. I wanted to help others. This was my first marathon and now that I knew what it was all about - I had learned so much about myself - I wanted to implement what I learned and do it again!
After my body recovered and I had come down from the incredible high of it all, so many thoughts were spinning through my head. Firstly, your mind is what pushes you and also what holds you back, doubting if you might even finish. But I also realized, the strength of my body got me over the line. My legs hurt like crazy and felt like lead, but my core strength was able to carry me through. A strong mind and a strong body is key. Maybe I could help others with their training?
My experience with EMC has been so poignant that I continue to want to do everything I can to help. I pitched to them the opportunity to provide a program to help other runners strengthen their bodies for upcoming races. Did you even know that strength training helps build stronger neuromuscular connections, so your brain gets better at recruiting the muscle fibers you already have to signal them to contract? This results in stronger, more powerful movements, which can translate to a better running economy. As your running economy increases, you can run faster and further before fatiguing. And this is just one of many benefits to strength training for a big race.
And then there’s Big Sur! With my California roots, it was a no brainer to run the Big Sur Marathon on April 30 this year. Big Sur presents a new set of physical challenges due to the rolling hills and terrain. Not to mention there are no crowds to cheer you on. It’s just you, mother nature, the ocean and your thoughts. I can’t wait. I have more to learn with this run. In fact Already know that no marathon is the same. Each has its own set of challenges. But I do know that each run will teach me something else. And the more I run, the more I learn.
If you are inspired by this story, there’s still time to register to run Big Sur with me and Every Mother Counts. For more information on how you can register to run visit Team EMC’s website, here.