Hitting his stride: Senior trains for Philadelphia Marathon

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By Howard Kim, Co-Sports Editor The afternoon sunlight dappled through the maple tree’s vibrant autumn leaves onto the sidewalk in St. Andrews as the lone jogger inhaled deeply while kneeling down on his driveway to retie his shoes before his run. In just a few weeks, he would be doing this in Center City in...

By Howard Kim, Co-Sports Editor

The afternoon sunlight dappled through the maple tree’s vibrant autumn leaves onto the sidewalk in St. Andrews as the lone jogger inhaled deeply while kneeling down on his driveway to retie his shoes before his run. In just a few weeks, he would be doing this in Center City in front of tens of thousands of spectators.
After senior Theo Simard signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon in May, he has been getting into marathon-running shape thanks to an online workout plan and support from his friends. Over the past five months, he has been training for the race and sharing his progress on an Instagram account dedicated to documenting his journey through the highs and lows of transforming from a hockey player and novice runner to completing 17-mile exercises.

“Hockey is a game where you have to give 110%, so this all out mindset of mine really helped me when I got into this,” Simard said. “I knew that I was gonna have to give everything I had in order to prepare for this.”

When Simard decided to begin running, he had never competed in track or cross-country a day in his life. In fact, he had not even started running until last year when he decided to get into shape. With the help of a free marathon training plan he found online, Simard began the task of achieving the peak physical fitness necessary for the race while juggling hockey practices and strength workouts. During this months-long journey, his friends and family have been his staunchest supporters and biggest source of motivation with their sage words and companionship.

“The people supporting me have been a big push to help me keep going, especially when I’m unmotivated (to train),” Simard said. “And I’ll think, ‘These people who are following me are expecting a lot from me, so I gotta deliver.’”

One of those people is Matthew Roeder, Simard’s inspiration and a member of Conestoga’s Class of 2017. He first ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2019, two years after graduating, and he competed in a variety of endurance events — from half-marathons to Iron Mans. His accomplishments are a major reason why the senior first considered running a marathon. After that initial spark, however, it was all Simard.

“I only gave him a couple tidbits about training here and there,” Roeder said. “He did all the work. You can tell somebody how to do something, but they’ve got to commit.”

After getting started with tips and inspiration from Roeder, Simard has been following in his footsteps by passing on the inspiration that got him started to others and impressing his peers with his all around growth.

“Watching his transformation both physically and mentally has really motivated me to keep training and be the best I can be because he’s being the best he can be,” said Neel Nag, Simard’s friend since sixth grade. “When everyone around you is pushing you to be your best, you’ve got to push yourself too.”


Howard Kim can be reached at [email protected]

 

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