From girl crush to Boston Marathon

By Raena Wilson

Lumen Reporter

“I started running in 2007 because a girl I liked convinced me to join cross country,” Ramon Martinez, a senior Spanish major from Firebaugh, Calif., told Lumen.

Over the last five years, running has become a passion for Martinez.

Martinez now runs a few 5ks (3.1 miles) for training, one to two marathons (26.2 miles) a year, and two to three half marathons (13.1 miles) a year. He is also on the Viterbo Cross Country team. He has run races in Wisconsin and traveled to California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Michigan. He also ran in the Boston Marathon in 2009.

Martinez began running in California as a way to condition for the wrestling season.

“I did it to stay in shape,” Martinez said. “One 5k led to another and I grew a deeper appreciation for running.

“The Boston Marathon was my most memorable race,” Martinez said. “The crowd was roaring at every single mile, there was media coverage from all around the world, and it was also the first marathon where I didn’t stop once.”

Martinez completed that race in 3 hours and 6 minutes, finishing 2,065 out of 22,549 runners. This year, he will run the Boston Marathon again on April 13, 2012, and he hopes to finish it in 2 hours and 45 minutes or better.

His personal best for a marathon is 2 hours and 56 minutes, which he ran in the La Crosse Fitness Festival in 2011. The first marathon he ran was the California International Marathon on Dec. 2, 2007. He finished that race in 3 hours and 23 minutes, placing 741 out of 4,743 runners.

“When I started, I just thought I needed a pair of shoes that were comfortable and I wanted them to look cool,” Martinez said. “Running is a very deceptive sport and there is more to it than just buying shoes and going.”

Currently, Martinez runs six days a week. Each week, he does a morning jog that is three to four miles long. He also goes for three runs that are eight to 12 miles long at an easy pace, and three runs that are four to six miles at a faster pace. He runs a longer distance on Saturdays with the River City Running Club, which is usually 16 to 18 miles.

Martinez likes the intensity long distance running requires.

“In running, if you skip training, you will get your butt kicked on race day,” Martinez said.

Martinez recommends runners set goals, find a running partner, practice good running form, and most importantly, have fun. It is key to listen to your body and take care of yourself too, he said.

“I’ve had one major injury in my second year,” Martinez said. “It was an IT band injury and it was because I didn’t stretch or pay attention to my body.”

“An IT band is the tissue that moves goes from the hip to the front of the knee as your run,” Sheldon Wagner, an athletic trainer at Viterbo, told Lumen. “With the repetition and extension of the knee during running, this can cause inflammation, and consequently, an injury.”

Wagner, who works with Gundersen Lutheran and is contracted at Viterbo, has seen many different types of injuries associated with running in his 13 years as athletic trainer.

“Besides IT band injuries, stress fractures and muscle strains are also common,” Wagner said.

Running also has its benefits.

Wagner said there are many reasons why people run, such as for competition, recreation or social reasons, for their health, and for any combination of those reasons.

“I run for the competition and for recreation,” Martinez said. “My dad had a heart attack and he is doing better now, but I saw what not being active can do to you.”

“Other benefits include cardiovascular fitness, social aspects and camaraderie, stress relief and weight loss,” Wagner said.

Martinez also enjoys the opportunity to travel and meet a variety of different people who share in the joy of running.

“I am part of a big family with running,” Martinez said. “I have met the most amazing, down-to-earth people who I wouldn’t have had the privilege to be around had I not been a runner.”

Wagner also said it is important to establish a goal and moderation is essential.

“For distance running, you focus on cardiovascular running,” Wagner said.

Martinez explained cardiovascular running involves running at a low-effort pace to sustain longer runs on easier days combined with days where shorter runs are done at faster pace.

Martinez started an unofficial running club that meets at the clock tower in rain, snow, or shine on Wednesdays at 6:30 a.m. He welcomes any new or veteran runners to this group.

“This can be a starting place for some people,” Martinez said. “We run a 3.4 mile route together, talk about running or nutrition or shoes, and afterwards go to Mayo in La Crosse for a cup of coffee.”

For any questions about running or nutrition, or joining the Running Club that meets on Wednesdays, Ramon Martinez can be contacted by email at

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