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DWTS Champ J.R. Martinez Gets Ready for His First Marathon

From ballrooms to marathons, J.R. Martinez is always up for a challenge! (Photo courtesy of Timex Sports)

If you’ve read the Fit Stop for more than 30 seconds, you know that here at FITNESS, we are quasi-obsessed with all things Dancing with the Stars. So when we heard that Season 13 winner J.R. Martinez would be running the 2012 ING NYC Marathon this year on behalf of Timex, we had to catch up with him. Read on to see how training is going with a newborn, his goal time and how you can train with him in your city!

This is your first marathon, but have you ever done any type of distance race before? Never! I am definitely outside of my comfort zone here, but I’m so excited. This announcement comes at the perfect time, because 10 years ago I was sworn into the U.S. Army, and now 10 years later, I’m committing to something else. I am especially stoked to be doing this with Timex, because I get to test out the Ironman GPS, which is a big help for me since I’m always traveling for speaking commitments. On the road it’s hard to figure out how far you’re running, but I love that I can track my heart rate, distance and calories no matter where I am. I’m also excited to do this to help raise money for the New York Road Runners Youth Program. I’ll be starting dead last the day of the marathon, and for every person I pass Timex will donate $1 to the organization.

What’s your training been like so far? I’'m very lucky because I have a running coach who helps me plan out my weeks. Right now I’m running five days a week, with Sundays being my long run days. Every week I up it another mile, so right now I’m at 11 miles. On the other days I mix it up–I’ll do 45-minute slower jogs or 5-10 minutes of jogging followed by five, 60-second sprints with a 1-minute recovery. On top of that I do a lot of planks to strengthen my core as well as strength training for my legs and calves. And I’ve recently discovered the foam roller when stretching, that thing feels so good!

What’s the best tip your running coach has given you so far? The biggest thing I’ve learned is to listen to my body. My coach told me that if I get tired, it’s OK to walk for a few minutes to get my heart rate down and get back to a good place. Obviously I can’t walk the whole thing, but it’s fine to take a break when I need it. This is important for me because I have an attitude of never stopping, my pride gets in the way which leads me to run faster than I should be and fizzling out! We’ve also worked a lot on pace, he has been slowing me down to help build my endurance. I really saw this pay off the other day in the park when I had to run 10 miles. Several people passed me and it got really discouraging. But then I noticed about 7 miles in they had all stopped, and I was still running! That was when I knew this was working.

What’s it like training with a 4-month-old baby? It’s tough because I travel so much so when I am home I just want to be with my family and I still have to go on these runs for hours at a time. I’m lucky that [girlfriend Diana Gonzalez-Jones] is supportive and understanding of the situation. Sometimes she’ll even take the stroller and walk in the park while I do laps, that way I can get a glimpse of them when I run by. They’ll both be here for the race somewhere along the route, and even though my daughter will only be 6 months old then and will have no idea what is going on, I know once I see her I’ll be encouraged to keep going.

What’s on your marathon playlist? I really love the song “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes, but as all songs go, it’s starting to get played out. I’m asking that people tweet @iamjrmartinez with their tips for the race and any songs I need to have on my marathon playlist! I want to make a playlist for the race completely from all the feedback that I get, so please give me your suggestions or else I’ll be left only to run with classical music! And since I do travel so much, if I’m ever in your city and you want to run tweet me a, “Hey, welcome to…” whatever city I’m in and we can run together to stay motivated!

Do you have a goal time for the race? I have a few goals. First, Jennie Finch raised just under $31,000 last year, so I am vowing to raise $31,000. If I pass 31,000 runners then great, if I only pass 20,000 then I will personally donate $11,000 to make up the difference. As for a finishing time, I’ve heard everybody say 4:30 is the average finishing time, and that seems pretty doable. Ideally, I’d like to finish in 4:15. I’m not sure how realistic this is, but there it is!

Visit the Timex Sports Facebook page to read J.R.’s training blog and enter to win weekly prizes!