SGPT Interviews Boston Marathoner Jason Smith: The Unfair Advantage

We are really proud to get this interview with Navy Veteran Jason Smith. He is a long time member of the SGPT group and he tells us how he was able to finish marathon after marathon with a competitive time.

Check out this interview and let’s give Jason a big HooooYaaah!!!!

SGPT: Tell us about yourself? Where are you from and where do you train?

JS: I am a Navy veteran, endurance athlete and grandfather. Originally, I am from Missouri, I joined the Navy as an Aviation Electronic Technician and served in Florida, Hawaii and California, where there are beaches!

I am blessed to have a small place here in Coronado, CA. I train mostly around Coronado and the San Diego area. Although the Strand just south of Coronado is flat, I take advantage of the winds to simulate hill training and to grind out tempo. It is a hub for triathletes, runners and swimmers from the area to train safely and find competitors to chase along the bike/running path.

SGPT: Thanks for serving this great country. We appreciate your sacrifice. Did you have an athletic background growing up?

JS: Not really, I enjoyed most high school sports, but lived too far away from town to be able to compete. I remember in any sport, just enjoying it and finding a way to be competitive, no matter what the sport.

In the Navy, I fell in love with volleyball and was fortunate, while stationed in Hawaii to get connected with a really good coach who helped me understand the fundamentals and then apply my abilities.

From that I was able to progress and earn a spot on 6 All-Navy Volleyball teams where I helped our teams win a Gold and 2 Silver medals at the Armed Forces Championships. I also was selected to the All-Armed Forces CISM volleyball team at the World Championships in 2006.

I soon decided on another challenge and did my first Marathon, but also found this sport called triathlon! I started training for Half-Ironman 70.3 and Full Ironman events, doing Ironman Arizona in 2007 and 2008.

SGPT: Wow; what a great transfer of skills and discipline from volleyball to marathons and triathlons. What elements of volleyball did you bring over when attempting your first Ironman?

JS: The first would be creating a plan to achieve my goal. In volleyball I assessed my current level of commitment, fitness and health to create a plan to reach the goal of All Navy Volleyball team. I learned about the sport, found resources to practice and improve each skill, tested and revised through competition.

Then I mapped out a training regimen for each skill to move to the next level. I understood I could grind and outlast other players, had jumping ability and technique that allowed me to be successful for multiple days of practice and competition. In Ironman I committed to a plan, learned the various sports, applied my strengths of stamina and speed to endurance running and grinding out the day.

While a weak swimmer I have grown to be comfortable in the water through consistent time in the water and using surfing as an added element of stress. Being crushed by a wave and relaxing does wonders for confidence. Then, combining strength and stamina training to reinforce my running strength and bike power and speed. I have grown into this sport, adapted my training to the sport, increasing plyometrics, mobility, and stamina weight training as well. Its a consistent effort and willingness to change that has helped me attempt new challenges and continuing to evolve myself at 59. What got me here won’t get me there. Or better yet, “The only easy day was yesterday”.

SGPT: Can you tell us a little about your training for a marathon or triathlon event?

JS: An endurance event like a marathon, Half Ironman or Ironman can be done by anyone with not much training. However, you will probably be sore and achy and not what to do one ever again. What makes them enjoyable for me has been learning to be consistent in my training, learning what my body can handle, and finding a training program that matches my style of training.

I have found training programs where I mix in running, biking, swimming, as the main training workouts, with SEAL Grinder PT workouts as my weapon of choice to build functional strength I apply to all disciplines.

I run 2 days a week tops, bike 2 days and swim 2 days with 2 days added per week for strength days. For Triathlon I up the length of the sessions with sometimes having 2 workouts per day depending on the workout.

SGPT: How did you decide on the Boston marathon?

JS: The Boston Marathon is a qualifying event. Meaning you have to do a marathon in a certain time for your age group to get in. And because it’s one of the big marathons, a lot of people try to get in, but spots are limited. I did the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon in 3:22 last June and got in for this past Aprils race.

SGPT: Tell us more about the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon. How did you train and prepare for that big race?

JS: This past June at the Rock n roll marathon, I employed a pace plan of being patient and it led to my running a 3:20 marathon, 7 weeks after Boston!

I executed what my mind saw. I may have ran a perfect race at Rock n Roll San Diego! I ran a 3:20:48 and got 3rd place in my age group at a marathon! Still unreal. I beat my Boston time this past April by 15 minutes.

Coach Brad Mcleod pointed out an Unfair Advantage in an email in March – I kept thinking of Breathe, Visualize, Affirmations, Move, Fuel.

I believed in my recovery, strength workouts, nutrition and race strategy and training buildup with 6 weeks between races. The weekend before I ran an 18 mile training run and felt like I did 10.

My mind was prepared for my day. I visualized the race, the pain, my pace, my nutrition, the finish. At mile 16 when feeling like I was floating and thought I should crush it, I breathed, actually drifted off with gratitude. I smiled and stayed on the pacing plan and held back again at mile 21 when my mind and math told me I could possibly PR but knew a 1 mile 5% grade lay ahead at mile 23. I was steady relaxed and even called my fiance for a distraction prior to the hill.

I passed so many people on the hill who blew up, cramped and were slowing down as I felt faster. I encouraged my competitors and crested the hill while pouring it on down to the finish. My last mile was a 7:15 and 5:10 pace the last 1/4 mile.

I had an unfair advantage of following Seal Grinder PT since 2012, learning and applying these principles.

SGPT: Thanks so much for being one of our old school loyal members – we appreciate you and celebrate your big wins!

What was hardest part of finishing a big event like that?

JS: Balancing a race plan and enjoying the day with what the day presents you. It is easy to train for a race and have a goal to complete the race in a certain time. But you never know what you will get. This past April, we had chilly rain, which saps my energy.

SGPT: What kind of running shoes did you use for training/the event?

JS: I currently train in Saucony Endorphine 3 Speed shoes. I like the toe box, responsiveness and light weight cushioning they provide. Shoes are personal and different for everyone, I recommend finding a good locally owned running store to try on different shoes and see what works best.

SGPT: Did you use body glide on your feet to prevent blisters? How did you prep your feet for a big race like that?

JS: Yes I use Body glide for all friction areas. I also use a product called 2 Toms, which is wonderful for long endurance events.

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do a marathon or something similar?

JS: Like anything, plan your training, be consistent and learn to become better 1% everyday.

SGPT: What good book are you reading now? Do you have any good podcast are you are listening to now?

JS: I am reading the book “What got you here won’t get you there” by Marshall GoldSmith . I listen to a couple podcasts, Rich Roll, TriDot, Train Smarter, Train Faster, Jocko and Jay Shetty.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview Jason.

JS: Thank you Coach Brad for having me and for doing all you do for those of us who work on getting better everyday.

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