Sergei Kapiton.

Sergei Kapiton

My marathons

If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. If you want to talk to God, run an ultra.
Dean Karnazes

If someone five years ago told me that I would run marathons, I would say: “You are insane, don’t scoff at my gray hair”. Nevertheless, this fact occurred. I can say with pride I am a marathon runner. This fact, title, does not bring any money, fame, except self-gratification, that I could, did not give up, that this cup of suffering and pain was drunk by me to the end.

Marathon in its sensations is somewhat reminiscent of high-altitude ascents to heights above 5,000 meters. When you prepare for it all year round, finally checking yourself one month before the start, summing up your willingness to run… But let’s go in order.

I am quite an active person. Gym, light runs no more than an hour, usually 3 times a week, 5-7 km. It was enough for me for my other passion – high-altitude ascents, which is my main one. It changed my worldview and lifestyle of boring work routine in the office, with settings that you accept only with your mind, but not with your heart. In a crisis, I buried two of my business projects and paid off my employees and wished myself and them further success.

Having changed my destiny, I remembered my abilities for massage and sauna procedures and decided to do just that. Somehow in one of the baths I met an interesting person who rested quietly alone, sipping herbal tea with honey. It is quite rare for the Ukrainian – Russian mentality of connecting a trip to a bathhouse with all sorts of excesses, where beer is the least of all evils. It became interesting to me and I told him directly about it. He said that he was moving away from a hard start and was restoring his health. So I learned that in Ukraine there are a lot of different races, including for fans of all ages.

Before that, every year I participated in the charity run “Chestnut Run” which is held in Kiev dozens of times. Over the past 10 years, I proudly ran this “long” distance of 5 km. I even paid for my employees in order to motivate them to join a healthy lifestyle.

It turns out that there are many such run events in Ukraine. I will say more – a lot. Apparently, there are very many in the world. So thanks to a casual acquaintance, I got into this universe called RUN. Actually, I only found out about its existence. I grew up as a professional massage therapist and I needed to expand the practice, my friend promised to introduce me to the super coach, who opens the running club at the “Olimpiysky” sports arena in Kiev. So it turned out that there are not only events, but there are also running clubs. A little later, I will focus on the Clubs and Events.

Actually, I’ve heard a lot about the massive passion for jogging in the United States, I have many friends of healthy lifestyles living there. It turns out this fashion has penetrated into Ukraine, and I was extremely happy about it. But I have not started running yet. I am 51 years old and will be running? Ah, I underestimated the omnipotence of this all-penetrating virus.


The first trainings and the first starts.

And here I am at the stadium – the largest in Ukraine, in the center of Kiev. By agreement with the leadership of the running club “Top runners”, I started  doing massages for the runners, mostly casual runners of completely different ages and body sizes who made the challenge for themselves and decided to change something in their sedentary lifestyle. Naturally, because of the inability to run and the wrong technique, there were a lot of injuries that I successfully coped with. But, as injuries mostly accumulated at the end of the training session, I wasted my time contemplating people running laps.

– Why don’t you run? They suddenly asked me.
– Well, I didn’t plan to do it.
– You have massages later, just join us.
– I am also without a uniform…
– OK, bring it to our next workout and get started.

This conversation has become a landmark for me. The coach who spoke to me was Sasha Kuzin, he and his wife Tanya coached the runners at my club. Sasha set a record that still holds at a marathon in the Austrian Linz 10 years ago. She and Tanya were even the fastest married couple in the world
rankings. Well, how could I refuse.

The next time, I came with a uniform and completely killed sneakers of some unknown Chinese brand, I began my training.

– Listen, I told the coach, I’m actually zero in terms of running, and over fifty years old.
– Everything is OK, it’s not gods who bake the pots, let’s start with the basics. Run 5 laps and warm up.

And I ran, at first cursing myself for an idiotic decision to start running at my old age. But then, either the cheerful company of runners, or the greatness of the arena’s size changed my mood and I began to catch the buzz from the process. So I started running.

Then there was a warm-up, then, divided into groups of different levels of preparation, we performed special running exercises and a few jogging laps. Plus exercises were added to develop the core muscles.

Drills changed every time, only the skeleton remained: running warm-up, exercise warm-up and jogging at the end. I was amazed at the variety. I have always believed that running it’s just started to run, well, of course, not with all my might, but quickly enough. It turned out – it’s not like that. To run correctly and arrange strength at a certain distance, it was necessary to go through many steps. So I got acquainted with the accelerations, fartlek run, interval training, “slides”, running up the stairs. It was served easily and, if necessary, no one reproached you for slinging and missing something. Another important factor was the restoration of the pulse and run in your pulse zone. But that was later. But at the beginning, or rather the next day, I barely got up. And  although the total running distance of my first training was not great – the consequences were disastrous.

The first long distance.

On Saturdays we did not train at the stadium, but on the picturesque Trukhanov Island, where the club’s base was located. It was the so-called “long run” without running exercises. The running track was on an asphalt road laid through a pine forest. After a warm-up, we broke up into groups and ran.

– And how long to run? I asked the coach.
– Not much, just 10-15 kilometers, whatever you are in a mood for.
– ???? How long?
– Don’t worry, there is only one road, you can go back at any moment.

Well, comforted. However, it was too late to retreat. And in front of beautiful girls in tight leggings and bright T-shirts I did not want to seem weak. And I ran. The pace was quite tolerant and I ran through the autumn forest easily. The people broke into mini groups and discussed something. Wow, they can even talk!

Then a knee got sore. I moved from the asphalt to the ground, the benefit along the side of the road you can run on the path.

– Are you protecting your knees? Ironically asked another runner. I did not understand the ironic tone, but answered “Yes”.
– And you do it right, he said, and accelerated.

Our group leader, seeing my sufferings, began to give instructions.
– Your technique is wrong – you land on your heel. Try to run, as if falling forward. I tried and it became easier. And I did complete my intended maximum of 8 kilometers.

It’s funny to me NOW. But back then I was so cool. Over the past 20 years – this was my first long distance. Sitting in a cafe waiting for the others, I drank tea and was preparing a proud post in the FaceBook. People gathered. The last group of runners came. They ran more in a forest. Everyone was satisfied and happy. People were checking their distances: who on a smartphone, who on a watch – special running trackers with the measurement of heart rate, pace,  distance.

– Good. 18 km. It was possible to do a couple more, the pace was weak.
– ???.
– Ahhhhh 18 – is that normal? I asked timidly.
– Of course, can do more, but not today.

And my heroic impulse and the pedestal of my monument were destroyed, Conceit trampled.

I was saved by the coach.
– Show me your sneakers, he asked.
-Oh, they are not good…
– Well, I don’t have extra money now for new sneakers. I need to recruit new clients.Well, don’t worry, we will come up with something.

For the next training session, he brought me “Skechers” sneakers, although used, but excellent. At that time I was surprised by his gift. Now I understand this generosity.  Runners have lots of various items. After all, it is necessary to run beautifully. And shoes – the main thing. There are different models for each running track, season, speed. Now I have 8 pairs of sneakers and I plan to buy more. There are loved ones and not so much. And why not give a pair to a good man.

So I became a runner. And later I ran my first half-marathon (21 km) and my first full marathon. But more on that in my next article.

Translation from Russian into English: AD Consulting LLC