BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge runner Jason Cheek started his fitness journey three years ago.
"I'm more of a runner than a fitness guru. I believe in keto and intermittent fasting," said Cheek, who says he has lost 40 pounds since he started his running journey. He says he believes in diet and exercise.
The husband and father of two little girls works for TruBlue Water company delivering water to customers throughout the Baton Rouge region.
"I'm a local water boy, so all I do all day is lift water, sling it around, and it keeps me on my feet, keeps me being active, and I love seeing customers all day," said Cheek.
Despite his full family life and dedication to his job, he makes sure to run at least 3 times per week. His training and dedication pushed him to one of the most prestigious races in the world: the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Marathon is more than a renowned race. It's not just a challenge to run, it's a challenge to qualify. Even if you achieve the qualifying standard, you're not guaranteed entry. You have to be the fastest among the pool of applicants in your age and gender group to be accepted.
So how did Cheek go from training in the Baton Rouge heat to braving the cold in Beantown? Wednesday afternoon, Cheek shared his journey with WAFB's Get Fit Red Stick Facebook group.
You can join the Get Fit Red Stick group here.
"The way I get prepared for all my running, because I'm a dad and I work a ton of hours, what I do is I try to run three times a week. One day I do intervals. I might run three miles or do just different speed work, whether it be 400s or mile repeats. Another day I do a mid-tempo run, anywhere from 6 to 10 miles. And then one day out of every weekend I dedicate to a long run and that long run could be anywhere from 10 to 20 miles."
CHEEK RUNS 3X PER WEEK
- Run intervals, three miles with different speed work
- Mid-tempo run, anywhere from six to 10 miles
- Long run, anywhere from 10 to 20 miles
"I try to keep this up all year long, especially the long run because if you can keep this up all through the year, you don't have any real big setbacks and you can remain injury free as long as you're not pushing your body too hard."
It's easy to push your body to its limits, especially running in the Louisiana heat. Cheek has a suggestion for anyone training in the hot summer months.
"I drink a lot of water the night before and I make sure to eat a good meal the night before that's high in sodium. Don't worry about the water weight because you're going to lose it." Cheek recommends drinking 32 ounces per hour while you're exercising.
THE BOSTON MARATHON
His persistence helped him qualify for the Boston Marathon, not once, but twice. "It took me three years of running marathons in order to qualify."
Cheek ran and completed the Boston Marathon in both 2017 and 2018, two races that had a completely different feel. He says the weather was warm for the Boston Marathon in April 2017 at 85 degrees. However, the 2018 Boston Marathon was more complicated, complete with temperatures in the low 30s and heavy rain.
"The day before it was actually snowing in Boston. When we woke up on race morning we decided to take some trash bags, put them over our body to keep us warm and to protect us." He said their rain jackets only lasted about an hour before the runners started shivering during the race.
"We get up to the race village where you're talking about 20,000 people, and we're huddled up. We're all freezing together," Cheek said while holding his arms tight, mimicking a reaction to the cold.
Cheek says the snow, rain, and even 20 mile per hour head winds made the prestigious race more difficult than the previous year. "I couldn't maintain my pace but I still ended up with a very good time. I'm extremely pleased for everyone that finished." Despite the difficult elements, Cheek crossed the finish line with a smile.
Having the ability to keep your pace and run a marathon doesn't happen overnight. "I used to get whooped by everybody when I first started," said Cheek who shared his tips to getting started on the Get Fit Red Stick Facebook group.
His first tip is to buy a watch with a heart rate monitor. "Run a few minutes at a certain heart rate, once your heart rate gets too high, I like to go 150 to 160, do a walk to get it back down to 150 to 160, back and forth until you can build up the mileage."
He also emphasized the importance of getting proper running shoes that work with your feet.
"Everyone has a different foot so going to a local shoe store will help you with that. They'll measure your foot, tell you if you need a wide, narrow, high arch, low arch, especially your first pair of real running shoes. You want to actually go somewhere where you can talk to someone in person."
For that type of quality customer service, Cheek recommends buying running shoes at Varsity Sports in Baton Rouge or their location in Mandeville, or Louisiana Running Company in New Orleans.
- Buy a watch with a heart rate monitor
- Heart rate training
- Get some good shoes
- Find friends in your same range (or better)
- Join local running groups
Cheek says it's important to keep moving and shared a list of local running groups he participates in and encourages others to join.
"Part of the great thing about the page [Get Fit Red Stick] is you're going to start finding people that are part of the group that you can run with, you can get along with, and you'll find people that can run in your range. I always try to find people I can run with that are in my range or better," shared Cheek.
Make sure you're on the Get Fit Red Stick group every Wednesday at 4 p.m. for a new live interview that will inspire you to Get Fit.