Dalton Half Marathon

September 5, 2010

Short strides, better times

When observing runners, be mindful of the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” During the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, a distance runner from Czechoslovakia appeared in agony from the first step. Those unknowing observers might have wondered how he even qualified against the world’s greatest performers.

Emil Zatopek became famously known as the “man who ran like he had a dagger in his heart.”

Zatopek provided particular pain in that Olympics — for his competitors. He was the only participant who swept the three longest distance races: the 5,000 meters (14 minutes, 6.6 seconds), 10,000 meters (29:17) and marathon (2:23.03).

A neophyte to the marathon, Zatopek let several veterans set the early pace before pulling alongside the pacesetter to complain about the seemingly slow pace. Then Zatopek put it into overdrive and ran away from the field to capture the coveted 26.2-mile race.

If you’re preparing for the first Dalton Half Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 16, but don’t have a beautiful stride, be encouraged by Zatopek. Substance so often beats glitter.

Some years ago, I attended the King Games at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta, a meet that attracted many of America’s elite track athletes.

An official told me, “I saw this bald-headed guy on the track before it started. He looked like some everyday jogger. I told him this was a meet for the elite,”

This unlikely looking runner was Dick Buerkle, who later set the world indoor record in the mile (3:54).

There long has been the accepted theory that taller people have an advantage with their longer strides. That is a myth. You rarely find a tall world-class runner. In the Dalton area, the most consistent 5K winner is Manuel Ferrer, who is 5-foot-5.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Michael Johnson of the United States swept the 200- and 400-meter dashes, setting a world mark for the former event (19.3). He did so with a short, choppy stride. As alleged experts agreed, his turnover rate was superior to his competitors.

Runner’s World Magazine did a study long ago on some Penn State distance runners, following them from their freshman to senior years. By the end, their strides all were shorter, but their times considerably better. This has gone hand-in-hand with other studies that have warned against overstriding.

For those runners concerned about their strides, particularly the newcomers, they would do well to assess themselves from video. A knowledgeable coach or fitness authority could provide some pointers.

Long ago at a week-long runners camp in Brevard, N.C., everybody was observing various individuals on video. These came from the back side. One person’s low arm style brought me a chuckle. In fact, what bad overall form!

As the man turned back around, everybody laughed. It was yours truly!

Even with an unorthodox style, you still can be OK if you are running acceptable times and staying away from injuries.

• Runners rarely have road races on Monday, but Labor Day is an exception.

Chattanooga will host the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes 5-K race at 8 a.m. Monday at Chattanooga State.

This event always attracts numerous speedy high school cross country runners on a flat, fast course — along with the plodding adults.

This is the 11th in a 16-part series of instructional columns preceding the first national Dalton Half Marathon on Oct. 16. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, finished in the top 10 percent of five Boston Marathons between 1976 and 1981. You can write to him at Dhawley@optilink.us.

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Dalton Half Marathon
  • Time to roll out the red carpet

    Organizers are expecting nine states to be represented Saturday at the fourth annual Dalton Red Carpet races, where the action — which starts and finishes downtown — will include a half marathon, 5K and 2K.
    “I feel sure that it’s the most states that we’ve had represented for this event,” said co-race director Rick Little. “It’s become so well-known. People outside our area know that it’s a quality event.”

    October 25, 2013

  • Run back for concert downtown

    Get ready to rock with the Austin, Texas-based band Fastball at the Saturday night concert following the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon/ 5K/2K races and the Liberty Tree Festival in downtown Dalton.

    October 25, 2013

  • Half marathon male winner.jpg Red Carpet Half Marathon: Phillips outkicks the field

    Isaac Pacheco stuck with Geno Phillips for around half the race.
    Then the Chattanooga resident “broke” the North Murray High senior.
    Phillips was the first person to cross the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon finish line in downtown Dalton on Saturday morning, running the 13.1-mile race in one hour, 12 minutes, 1 second.

    October 7, 2012 1 Photo

  • Chris Stephens: Ready for a good run

    The best part about running your first half marathon? Finish the race and you automatically set a personal record.

    October 3, 2012

  • s-MartinezFamily1-3x-col.jpg Racing runs in this family

    If officials for Saturday’s Dalton Red Carpet races are looking to award a family for having the most participants, a local contingent rates as quite a favorite.

    October 11, 2011 1 Photo

  • Runners can try out half marathon course

    Area runners are invited to help test the reconfigured course for the second Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon, 5K and 2K event, which is scheduled for a downtown start and finish on Oct. 15.

    June 7, 2011

  • 5k 3 mlh.jpg Tight finish

    October 17, 2010 1 Photo

  • Doug Hawley: Firsts not only bests

    October 17, 2010

  • 5k 12 mlh.jpg Perfect day for a race

    They came mostly from the Southeast and a few from as far away as Colorado and South Dakota. Some ran Saturday’s half marathon for the first time, while one Dalton podiatrist used it as a tune-up for the real Marathon race in Greece later this month.

    October 17, 2010 1 Photo

  • Dalton Half Marathon2010.jpg Day of distance near

    Lauren Sain was already planning to run a half marathon in a city halfway across the country when she saw an advertisement for one in her own backyard.
    On Saturday morning, Sain will find out how far her training has taken her in preparation for the first Dalton Half Marathon, which will also serve as her first attempt at a distance race beyond a 5K.

    October 14, 2010 2 Photos