October 2013
Capstone April 2013 Howard University Capstone October 2012  
Faculty Members Inspire Others to Run the Distance
By Megan Sims, junior, School of Communications; intern, Office of University Communications
Lee's marathon tags are evidence of his hard work and determination. (Megan Sims)

Running a marathon, or 26.21875 miles to be exact, may feel like an unattainable goal. But Dexter Lee, Ph.D., a renal physiologist in the College of Medicine, says it’s well within anyone’s reach. 

Lee is gearing up for this year’s annual Marine Corps Marathon on Oct 23. The fourth largest marathon in the country and ninth in the world draws seasoned and novice runners to the nation’s capital every year. It’s so popular that every year all 10,000 slots are filled within hours of opening registration. This will be Lee’s seventh consecutive time participating. (Lee also ran the Mississippi Blues Marathon.)

“It takes a plan, dedication and discipline,” Lee says. “There are many plans that you can find on the Internet about how to train for marathons and about the regiment that you should follow every day. I choose a regiment that is conducive to my schedule and I try to keep to it as much as possible.

Lee recommends that those interested in preparing for marathons search online for different training regiments and decide what works best for their schedules. He also says that it’s important during training (and the race) to rely on sports drinks and gels, which nourish the body with electrolytes, carbohydrates and glucose.

“There is a lot of strategy that goes into marathon running, including what you should drink and what you should eat, before and during the marathon, to sustain your energy levels,” he says.

Most importantly, he stresses the need for water.

“People don't realize the importance of water. I always tell people that water to the body is like gas to a car. So if you’re low on water you won’t go far,” Lee says.

Lee is joined on his marathon journey by another College of Medicine professor, Adeyinka O. Laiyemo, M.D., who joined the faculty in January 2010. This year will mark Laiyemo’s sixth Marine Corps Marathon, and his goal is to complete it in less than six hours. "Whatever your goal is, you can do it and with the proper amount of preparation all goals are possible.”

“I thought it was a good idea to set a big target for myself six years ago to encourage me to get in shape and exercise frequently,” Laiyemo says.

For those just looking to get started, Laiyemo suggests registering for a shorter distance race—whether it’s a 5K, 10K or even a 10-miler—so that they have a manageable goal to pursue.

“They should then tell everybody that they plan to run because this may help ‘prevent’ them from quitting,” he says.

A faculty member since April 2006, Lee often shares with his students the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Those looking for more initiative to run a race can even consider running for a cause, he says. Lee remembers one year being asked by students to run in the Marine Corps Marathon as a fundraiser for lupus in memory of a fellow classmate who died of the disease. Lee says he felt honored to run for such a great cause and to help the students raise money.

Lee and Laiyemo both emphasize that the most important thing to remember is that anyone can do it.

“The first time it was very exhilarating to get close to the finish line because it was something that I had never done before and I didn’t think it was possible for me,” Lee says. “I knew that I had accomplished something that I had wanted to keep doing and you know what, you can do it too. Whatever your goal is, you can do it and with the proper amount of preparation all goals are possible.”

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