Inspirational Runner: Marcela Araya
Inspiration can come from anywhere or anyone. In my case, it comes from a very gifted woman. Marcela Araya is a nutritionist, family woman and passionate runner. Marcela exudes confidence in her passions and conviction. Professionally and personally, Marcela has achieved greatness. Marcela is from Costa Rica and for a woman in Latin America, she has broken many norms. I had the honor of spending some time with her and getting a chance to ask her about her running experience.
When did you know you had a passion for running?
One day at the gym, I was walking on the treadmill and the girl next to me started to run and I felt really bad because I was a little bit older and I couldn’t run! Not even 5 mintues! For me it was impossible. The next morning, I woke up and said “Today I’m going to run 10 mins.” And I did! It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I realize that it was like real life, it challenges you, sometimes you have the limits in your head, you just need good attitude to make it. My coach always says that, and I believe it. That’s how I found it was my passion.
Where have you gone to races?
I run here in Costa Rica, but my second half marathon was at Disney, on 2012. After that, I’ve been running marathons. I ran Chicago Marathon on 2013, Marine Corps Marathon at Washington DC on 2014, Amsterdam Marathon on 2015, Berlin Marathon on 2016, the Woodlands half Marathon at Houston on March 2017 and in October I’m running [the] Chicago Marathon once again. ”
How do you prepare yourself for races?
I’m in a running team. I have a coach and he prepares us for the whole season. On my own, I try to have the perfect nutrition plan. I go to the gym to keep me strong, ride a bike and swim 2 times a week so I can have the best performance.
What kind of nutrition does your diet consist of? Since you are a nutritionist is there anything you’d like to point out to other runners?
My nutrition consist [of] a balance diet that covers all my exercise hours. I eat carbs and/or fruits before my training, I drink a protein shake after my first session of exercise and have 5-6 meal[s]. On Saturday, I have [a] long run so on Friday night I try to eat a little bit more of carbs and drink a sports drink. During the long run, I take water, sports drinks and sport gels so I can keep my energy [up] all the time. I think every runner should have a nutrition guide, to know what to eat or not eat [and] to increase his performance and prevent injuries.
Which injuries are you susceptible to?
I have a weakness on my [medial] gluteus, so sometimes my knees feel really tired.
Have you ever had any injuries? Do you have any advice in regards to running injuries?
Yes I had. My first one was on 2014. I had shin splint. And last year when I was running Berlin Marathon [at] mile 12, I felt a strange pain in my leg that made me suffer the whole race. But I finished. My diagnose[d] was “runner knee”. It took me 3 months to recover from it. My advice is to [do] cross training, make functional exercise, have a great Coach, a great Physiotherapist, daily hydration and eat PERFECT.
When do you usually get new running shoes?
I try to change them when they reach 500 kilometers. It could be every 4 months.
What are your favorite running accessories?
I love running with music, so my iPod is one of them. And my compression pants. They make my legs feel less tired.
Who do you usually run with? Do you feel like it’s a community?
I run with my running team and my husband is on my team too, so it’s great to share this passion. Running is a community, for sure. We all love to run, share goals, feel pain, cry, laugh, sweat and eat!
What is your favorite place to run?
Costa Rica is great. We have mountains and we can run everywhere but I love cold weather, so Amsterdam was the best place ever for sure! Great city, great marathon, great weather.
Which running experience is the one you are the proudest of?
[During] Berlin Marathon, I was in pain. My leg hurt a lot. It was in the beginning, [and] I had 14 more miles to go. I could quit or keep running. I choose to keep running. Life is sometimes difficult but quit[ing] is never an option for me. I finished my race with my personal record, and this year I hope I can run a better marathon and get my new PR.
I look up to Marcela like a swimmer looks up to Michael Phelps or a sprinter looks up to Usain Bolt. Besides being a dedicated runner, she has a passionate personality, and is one of the sweetest people I have ever met.