July 24, 2010

Doug Hawley: Variation is key to keep training fresh

Even the most enthusiastic runners can tumble into a bad case of the blahs.

This often happens with constant running over the same ground. Some versatility should help.

As runners prepare for the first national Dalton Half Marathon race scheduled Oct. 16, there are several area possibilities. The most popular probably is The Loop (4.15 miles) where most people start at Civitan Park and circle Tibbs Road, Walnut Avenue and College Drive past Dalton State College.

Otherwise, numerous runners begin at Bradley Wellness Center. They can do the Healthcare 5-K race course or branch off onto other territory.

Edwards Park, located off north Cleveland Highway, recently was added to my running log.

In order to keep the runs from constant plodding, it is recommended at least once a week to do some light speedups. You basically run how you feel at varying parts of the run. In my case, it normally ranges from 100 to 400 yards at three-quarter speed. Do about 10 to 14 of them.

To vary even more, go to your nearest school track. You can get a better feel for the type pace needed for your half marathon goal.

Be mindful that nearly all tracks now are in meters to coincide with the basically accepted world standard.

A customary 400-meter track is 437.5 yards or 2.5 yards short of the old 440-yard oval. Four laps, plus 10 yards, equal a mile.

For many years, the most basic track workout world-wide has been the 400 session. The world-class performers happen to do them much faster than the rest of us.

If your goal is 2 hours, 30 minutes for the 13.1-mile Dalton journey, you will average 11 minutes and 45 seconds per mile. That computes to 2:56 per track lap.

Your pacing should allow you to do two seconds under that or about 2:54.

Do between four and six on your debut. Your interval, or time to easily catch your breath without stopping, can be either 200 or 400 meters.

Eclipsing two hours is a landmark goal for many half-mara-thoners. That is a 9:09 per mile pace.

On the track, it amounts to 2:17 for each lap. Your pacing should be approximately 2:15.

Down the road, you might want to incorporate longer workouts. The 800 and 1,600 sessions are popular.

If aiming for two hours, you could shoot for 4:30 and 9:00, respectively, on those pacings.


This is the fifth in a 16-part instructional series leading up the Dalton Half Marathon. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, was a top 10 percent finisher in each of five Boston Marathons from 1976 to 1981.

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