Like many of us, Mike Castro used to come home tired after work and spend his evenings mostly sedentary. As he approached his 30th birthday, he started to feel like he should be doing something more active than watching tv or playing video games every evening. His sister introduced him to the Couch to 5k app, and he started working his way up to a 5k.
At present, he has completed 1 full marathon, 10 half marathons, and is registered for the 2022 Long Beach half marathon. I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his running career and how he trains for half and full marathons.
LB Living: How long have you been in Long Beach?
Mike: I moved here in 2010. I moved for work and I already had a friend who was living out here so that made it easier to get established.
LBL: Did you love running right away?
M: No. After using the Couch to 5k app, I started going to various run clubs, including run club happy hours, and also running with friends. At first, it was mostly about the social aspect. My main motivation for running was that I could meet new people at the run clubs and enjoy a happy hour beer with them after. I didn’t enjoy the actual running aspect until I got injured and couldn’t run for a while, and I realized that I missed it during that time.
My main motivation for running was that I could meet new people at the run clubs and enjoy a happy hour beer with them after.
LBL: What does training for a marathon or half marathon look like for you?
M: I was already running regularly before I signed up, but I added a little bit of distance. During my weekday runs, I try to do 5 miles vs 3. On weekends, I might do 8-9 instead of 6.
LBL: So after the half marathon is over, will you drop the distance back down?
M: A lot of people do, but I’m going to keep the longer mileage for a while.
LBL: Do you eat differently when you’re training?
M: I should! But for a half marathon, I don’t necessarily do anything differently. For a full marathon, it’s all about increasing nutrition and hydration.
For a full marathon, it’s all about increasing nutrition and hydration.
LBL: Do you have any specific rituals before a running event?
M: I make sure to prep everything the night before so it’s ready and I won’t have to scramble in the morning. Then I have 1 beer and go to bed early. The morning of, I wake up early and have a slice of sourdough toast with peanut butter.
LBL: What about after?
M: I usually hang out at the beer garden and wait for my friends to finish and then we go out together. We like to make a day of it. Steelcraft is one of our fav post-run spots.
LBL: What advice would you give someone who wants to get into running?
M: If it’s someone who has never run before, I highly recommend the couch to 5k app, or another similar one. It has you walk for a couple minutes, then run for a couple minutes, and it gradually increases the amount of time you spend running. The program is 90 days and it’s a great way to work up to a 5k.
For someone who is already running and they want to kick it up a notch, I’d recommend a training program and also finding people who will keep you in check. It’s harder to flake on a run when you have people waiting on you who will hold you accountable.
I’d recommend a training program and also finding people who will keep you in check.
LBL: Is there anything else you want to add?
M: Just how much I appreciate our local run clubs. Running with the run clubs is a great way to fill that social need while also getting a workout. A couple run clubs I run with regularly are the Long Beach Running Club (LBRC) and the Downtown Runners Club.
I run with the LBRC on Sundays and some people might run 3 miles and some people might be doing 18 if they’re training. It’s nice to do the same club and change the distance. I run with the Downtown Runners Club on Wednesdays and we meet at a bar, run a 5k, and then get happy hour prices all night at whatever bar is hosting. The hosting bar changes each week so it’s a great way to be social, run, and also explore new bars.