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From Weightlifter to Marathon Runner

Even though Robert Sirotkin already had a race bib to the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon he wanted to join Team Still I Run anyway. The mission of Still I Run resonated with Rob on a personal level. It was very important to Rob to raise money specifically for a mental health awareness organization specifically as running has played a positive impact on his mental health and wellness. “When I got into the marathon through the lottery, I decided I still wanted to run for a charity and specifically sought out mental- health focused charity partners through the NYRR website. There were only two charity partners centered around mental health, and Still I Run resonated with me the most because of its mission- it is the only non- profit in the country dedicated to promoting the benefits of running for mental health. Prior to this, I had never heard of Still I Run, which was surprising to some of the SIR volunteers during the race weekend. It is so cool that the “ big stage” of the NYC marathon was able to elevate the organization and introduce it to new people.” Rob said.

Pumping Iron to Pounding Pavement:

In high school and college, Rob was passionate about lifting weights and was in lifting clubs throughout his academic career. He found that lifting had a fantastic impact on his mental health and wellbeing. Then, in October of 2021, over a year prior to taking on the marathon distance he found an Instagram account of an individual who was on a daily running streak. This social media account inspired Rob to run just ten minutes a day. Eventually, he noticed that running just ten minutes a day helped improve his mental clarity and focus. Rob then started to shift from only lifting weights to running for his physical and mental health. He felt he needed a change of activity since lifting weights has been his only form of exercise.

From 0 to 100, Real Quick:

The 2022 TCS New York City Marathon was Robert’s first marathon. “I've only done two 5Ks in my life and I even walked part of the 5K races,” Rob said. When he received his bib into the marathon through the lottery, he remarked that getting into the race was pure luck but the biggest step of the entire process.”

As part of Team Still I Run, Rob was provided a coach and a training plan, which he said played a huge part in helping him prepare. Rob trained about four months prior to the big day. The morning of the marathon was anything from ideal. From the unseasonably hot temperatures in the 70s, it was not the most optimal conditions for the marathon that Rob has been preparing for. “I felt drained before even starting the race. It felt like you completed an entire day even before starting the race,” said Rob. Despite the unseasonably hot weather on race day, Rob got very close to his goal time of under five hours (5 hours and 16 minutes) and, remarkably, had negative splits the entire race!

Running Friends Are the Best Kind of Friends:

Even though race day weather was not kind, running a full marathon did not seem quite as grueling with a group by Rob’s side. During marathon training, Rob and the other members of the NYC marathon Still I Run team chatted regularly through GroupMe texts, email, and regular Zoom meetings. The group finally got to meet in person during race weekend. “Meeting the other folks from Still I Run was such a highlight of the whole thing. We did a shakeout run the day before and everyone was talking about their training journeys. It was such an exciting time for me, especially that we all raised money and awareness for mental health. I really enjoyed the brunch as a team. It was cool that we all were wearing our Still I Run gear together,” said Rob. “The love and support from the people closest to me really made the entire experience fun; plus, I was in New York City!”

Robert also had friends and family at various mile markers and that made it a lot easier for him to keep going. “In my mind I told myself I would see my best friend at mile four, more friends at the Queensboro Bridge, and further down the line my parents.”

Hooked for Life:

Without a doubt, marathons are extremely difficult, but the mental and physical discipline marathon training requires is a process that Rob truly enjoys. “I am hooked,” says Rob. “If I am given the opportunity to run NYC again, it would be extremely amazing!” Rob has big dreams ahead for himself now that his first marathon is under his belt. “I am thinking of the Chicago Marathon, London, Boston - any of the major marathons.”

Now that the NYC marathon is over and no current races Rob is training for, he is back in the gym enjoying the mental health benefits of working out. Rob plans to step up his training again and figure out his next race to train for as it helps keep him accountable and focused.


By Michele Krimmel

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