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Healthy You

Road to the Marathon: Following an Employee's Marathon Journey

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 8:23 AM

For some running is much more than just a workout, it’s a way of life. Waking up before the sun and setting new goals to push oneself is the norm. Marathon training is a delicate balance between physical strength, mental strength and conditioning.

In the next few months we will follow Berna Jacobson, a NorthShore employee, as she gears up and trains for the Chicago Marathon this October. We will learn why she runs, what keeps her going, how she trains and prevents injury, and how the marathon went for her.


What is your position at NorthShore? How long have you been with NorthShore?

I am Education Program Specialist and split my time between the Department of Radiology and the Office of Academic Affairs. I have been here about 2 ½ years.

Why did you choose running? What motivated you and keeps you going?

I started running in college to get rid of the “Freshman 15”, but have gotten more into it as time has passed. In the last several years I have started doing more fun runs out of local running stores and running with training groups. I have made some great friends through running.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running? Specifically running long distances?

The first time I did a marathon, I did it because I wanted a goal where I was the sole person responsible for achieving the goal. Setting that goal – and then through hard work achieving it – was really exciting. I still find it exciting to reach the finish line. Plus with long distance races you never know what will happen, so you need to readjust the goals as you go.

What lead you to marathon running? Did you ever plan to run more than one?

Someone I knew was dying of cancer and I felt really helpless. When I found out I could run the Chicago Marathon for the American Cancer Society to help raise money for cancer research, advocacy and patient services that was the extra push I needed.

Of course after my first half I said I would never run a marathon. Never say never. I also only planned to run one marathon.

Why did you choose to run with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team for the Chicago Marathon?

I started for that one person, but run for many more now. It makes the event more than just about me and my personal goal. Also, when I do get tired during the training or during a race, I can reflect on the people I am running for and their daily struggles.

Describe your training process for a marathon. How do you prepare–both mentally and physically?

The first time I did the marathon I followed the training program set by my training group really closely. It was tough to make time for some of the runs, but I worked hard to make it happen. Now I loosely follow a schedule.

Mentally, it is a matter of breaking up the miles. Instead of thinking of it as 26.2 miles, I break it down into smaller chunks.

What are the most common injuries you encounter? What actions do you take to prevent them?

I have had IT band and hip flexor issues. The key (which I am not good at) is to strengthen your core and your hips. Also, listen to your body and adjust your run or take a day off. Of course if you think it is something more, go see a professional to take a look at it.

What advice do you have for people starting their journey – what should they consider when they start their journey and how can they stay motivated until the end?

  • Get a good pair of shoes. Go to a specialty running store to be fit.
  • Run with a group even if you have never run with others, It is a good way to stay motivated and get the miles in.
  • Do your best to stick to the training schedule, but be flexible as you may need a rest or you may need to switch things around because of other things going on in your life.
  • Have fun!