As a type 2 diabetic, Move Ya Brass's Thomas Nguyen started running to get his health under control. He began with fundraisers for a nonprofit in New Orleans where he learned to love the sport and the competition.
Four years later, Nguyen is gearing up for his second Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. He’s also Move Ya Brass's running captain, recently became a certified coach through Road Runners Club of America and partnered with fellow MYBer Wilfredo Aguirre to form Lempira Delta Running Consultants.
Through coaching (both virtually and in person), he enjoys helping others benefit from the sport. "I love the aspect of seeing the progress of the runners … to see them meet their goals and accomplishments,” he explained.
With his latest marathon drawing near, Nguyen shared his thoughts on running 26.2 miles, while of course recommending those undertaking such a feat should consult a physician and/or running coach first.
Move Ya Brass: Why run a marathon?
Thomas Nguyen: The challenge. I've never run anything of that distance. For me, it's more of a mental challenge of actually running that long and being able to finish it.
MYB: How do you overcome the mental challenge?
Nguyen: For me, running a marathon has a purpose. As I ran each marathon mile last year I focused on how my training got me to where I was and every other mile I dedicated to those who inspired me. The mental aspect of the marathon is convincing oneself you can finish the race instead of psyching yourself out over the distance.
MYB: How does one even begin to start training for one?
Nguyen: If you are a beginner, we actually encourage you to do some kind of base running program to get your body acclimated to actually running at least three or four times a week. From there we kind of do a modified Hal Higdon marathon training program to get you acclimated to actually run the full marathon.
MYB: How much time do you recommend training for a marathon?
Nguyen: Especially if you're starting as a novice, you're probably looking at a six or seven-month [plan]. You just don't want to throw yourself into a cookie cutter program that's 16 weeks long. It's why we have you come in, get evaluated and have us adjust your program over a six to seven month long stretch just to make sure you're not overdoing yourself and potentially injuring yourself as well.
MYB: What are some good complimentary workouts?
Nguyen: At least for myself, I do a little bit of core training with some kettlebells and maybe 40 to 45-minute yoga workouts. I know Wilfredo has been doing a lot more kettlebells this time around for his marathon training. We try not to have our athletes focus too much on their leg workouts. Instead, we have them concentrate more on their core and upper body to balance out their training so they're not overusing their lower body muscles.
MYB: What about for recovery practices?
Nguyen: At least for myself it's been more foam rolling and rest and stretching.
MYB: What can't you live without on your long runs?
Nguyen: Hydration-wise I carry a Nathan hydration belt with me. Each bottle on my belt is about 10 ounces. I have one strictly water and one that has electrolytes from nuun mixed in with water. Nutrition-wise I'm a Gu person—either vanilla or peanut butter. I also carry salt tablets now especially on my really long runs. One that I just started using is a powder from a company called Base Performance. Some triathletes actually use that particular brand. I highly recommend that one especially for those who find themselves cramping more often during a run if they're not a fan of pickle juice.
MYB: Is there certain music you listen to?
Nguyen: I'm actually a non-music listener when I run. I actually just listen to what's out there.
MYB: Any big lessons you've learned while marathon training?
Nguyen: Just to enjoy the run. I'm really not big on pace unless you're trying to get under a certain time … That's pretty much my mantra—just to enjoy my run out there; enjoy the scenery.
Have you run a marathon? Planning to? Would never? Tell us in the comments.
- Lori Wilson