Marine Corp ultra marathon

This running success story is so good, it made it into The Wall Street Journal!

Maren Wiseheart was training for her very first ultra marathon, The Marine Corps Ultra Marathon, when multiple setbacks had her believe she wouldn’t be able to make it to the start line.  Then she discovered Fluid Running!

We asked Maren to tell us a little bit more about her and her ultra marathon journey.Jennifer Conroyd, Founder, Fluid Running

Tell us a little bit more about yourself. 

I’m from Chicago but now live in Dallas, TX with my husband, Juan, and my dog Henry. My husband is the one who always motivates me to stay active. He’s a gifted athlete and has completed several gravel bike races, marathons, half Ironmans, and even a full Ironman! I always strive to keep up with him! When not at home with the two of them, I’m a nurse practitioner in critical care ICUs.

How did you hear about Fluid Running?

I was training for my first 50k ultramarathon and injured my ankle. The race was still a bit away where I thought if I just participated in non-weight-bearing exercises for 6-8 weeks, that would give me time to heal. At first, the Peloton bike was my main focus, but I didn’t think it would help completely. I started researching zero gravity treadmills and other minimal weight-bearing fancy equipment, but it was expensive and hard to come by. I looked up aqua jogging and did a few workouts, but it was too mellow. Then I stumbled upon Fluid Running… game-changer!

What did you think of Fluid Running before/after you started doing it?

At first, I was dubious, as I mistakenly thought it was a structured aqua jogging program. But after the first few sessions where I was able to really get the cardiac burn I was hoping for and noted the extra work of running with water resistance, I realized Fluid Running was something different. It wasn’t the same as my granny’s aqua aerobics classes! This was something that could allow me to keep my cardio health up as I healed, work the same muscle groups, and help build strength. As a healthcare provider, all the science behind it made sense (and believe me I researched all about hydrostatic pressure differences in training in water, and water resistance for strength training just to be sure!).

How did you incorporate Fluid Running into your training plan? 

I worked with Fluid Running Coach Jen Govotis for a couple of months. She helped me to tailor my plans to what my needs were for that week. We were able to work around my hectic long hours at work. I did several days of doing the workouts on the Fluid Running app, individualized workouts where my coach gave me instructions on types of workout intensity levels using interval timing, and sometimes a mixture of both so it all stayed fresh. Towards the last month when I was starting back on land, I went slowly, running a few land miles and then heading into the pool for a brick session. It allowed my ankle to acclimate to the stress on it with land mileage, but Fluid Running after helped keep inflammation down (and not to mention a welcome relief after running in the Texas heat!). The brick sessions increased in duration up until a week before the race.

Were you nervous about being able to complete your race? 

I was extremely nervous! I had a lot of self-doubts as I had never done a 50k and now was increasing mileage at the same time I was facing 8 weeks of non-weight bearing time while my ankle healed. I read all about Jen G.’s journey to Boston and was so psyched she was my coach as she knew the physical and mental mind games you go through. She encouraged me that this is still running…just different. So I called the MCM race director to see if I could have an extension on dropping to the marathon if needed. He was so gracious and gave me kudos that I hadn’t thrown in the towel yet. He encouraged me to keep training and allowed me to have up until “bib pickup”  to make the final call on what distance I would run. So I was motivated to keep going. Soon after, I was testing out the land mileage again, I had COVID which kept me in bed for a week. I thought I’d be doomed to race for sure, but I was willing to keep plugging along and just see how things went. My heart rate would shoot up much higher with less exertion than before (thanks COVID), but again, the lower heart rate thresholds associated with Fluid Running were another solution to this problem. I was able to get back on the saddle with Fluid Running sessions, land sessions, and bricks again. My family was cautiously optimistic and always supportive, but just worried I’d be hard on myself if I failed or if I reinjured myself. We talked realistically about what the pros/cons of each distance would be and had frank discussions there. Throughout it all, coach Jen G. was in my corner rooting me on and talking me through the highs/lows one goes through when training. She reassured me with the effort I was putting in (that she could see) on my Strava account, the 50k was still possible!

How did the race go?

It was EPIC!  The course through DC is amazing through all of the monuments and so well supported.  I was tired but had no major aches or pains, and I didn’t hit the wall (as I eat everything I can get my hands on during the race).  At the last hill before the finish, my pace was almost a walk,  but there was a line of soldiers giving fist bumps and cheering me on.  I’m like “I came here to finish, I’m finishing strong” and picked up the pace to finish.  My goal was to break 6 hours and 30 minutes.  I did it in 6 hours, 29 minutes, and 59 seconds!   I was blown away with my finish based on how little I ran on land.   I never ran longer than 13 miles on land.

Did you tend to use one workout more than some of the others?  What was her favorite and why? 

Tough One. I’ll Give my top 3

1) Runners High. It was a good mix of speed efforts and hills (resistance) effort. I wouldn’t say I loved to start it as I knew I was about to get my butt kicked. But I was always satisfied and felt great afterward!

2) Good Times Roll. I love doing combos. Sometimes it just helped to break up the monotony.

3) Take the Long Way Home. When you spend 2-3 hours some days in a pool training, this was a common comfort!

Anything else you would like to share?

Yes, I want to say that anyone can do anything!  It may just need to be modified to suit your own abilities.  It’s all about the mental game, grit, and determination. Your mind is stronger than your body and you can do amazing things!   Especially with Fluid Running!

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