January 12, 2014

Doug Hawley: New year means new goals for area runners

— Like many people, runners set goals for each new year. Less than two full weeks into 2014, most area runners are undefeated when it comes to road races — not unlike football players in August during preseason workouts. Until beaten, they might even feel infallible.

As goals are set, though, that adage persists, “There is a difference in optimism and realism.”

Whatever your primary goal for the year might be, please consider writing it down. Our minds so often do play tricks on us by the time 12 months elapse.

Although running can be tough, try not to consider it life or death. Plan to have fun and enjoy the moments.

Positive thoughts play a big part in a runner’s success. On the other hand, negative feelings can have you beaten before the first race.

From a realistic standpoint, know your capabilities from practice runs. Not everyone can be the overall winner, even among area competition.

If it takes you 30 minutes to complete a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) road race, do not expect to be the champion. The winner likely will run in the 16- to 17-minute range. If you are an older person, though, that 30-minute clocking might be good for first place in your age division.

It’s all relative to the situation, and one beautiful thing about competitive running is that older runners can win as much hardware as the participants so blessed by their youth. Everybody can be a winner, no matter the age, because so much of the sport is about personal achievement.

• Throughout the year, the weather does play a factor in keeping up your mileage. That was particularly true with some recent bitter cold.

My usual time to run is early morning, which proved challenging.

Nevertheless, it is easier to dress for the cold than the summer heat. You can put on extra layers for the former case, but there is a limit to what you can remove in the latter. And dressing in extra layers is important. For me, that included an extra pair of lighter long pants and heavy gloves.

A ski mask, which might appear like attire from a bank robbery, has provided observers laughs over the years. However, it helps save the day for a runner in cold weather. Also, applying cream for the face and hands before running has helped me.

On a couple of the more extreme days, I waited until mid-morning and early afternoon to run.

As an alternative for the cold, do not hesitate to use a gymnasium or athletic center. Something can be said for comfort.

• The Carpet Capital Running Club’s annual banquet will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at Dalton Golf and Country Club.

For the first time, the organization’s Runner of the Year award winners will be honored from age/gender results based on world age group records. That is in contrast to the former division results.

Participants earned points through 13 races. These runs ranged from two miles to a 13.1-mile half marathon. Eleven runners, males and females, are being feted, while another five people are being honored as Volunteers of the Year.

At the same banquet, The Daily Citizen’s 2013 All-Area’s All-Area Cross Country Runners — five boys and five girls from varsity programs in Murray and Whitfield counties — will be honored.

• Identical twins Brody Cook and Parker Cook, Northwest Whitfield High School graduates who were members of the 2012 all-area lineup, displayed their academic ability this past fall as freshmen members of the Dalton State College cross country squad. Their 4.0 grade point averages led all male athletes at the school.

Dalton State’s cross country runners, who garnered a sterling 3.31 combined grade point average, finished only behind the women’s tennis squad’s tally of 3.34.

• Many area runners can take pride in Chattanooga earning a recent national running award — Outstanding Runner-Friendly Community for 2013 by the Road Runners Club of America.

The honor was keyed by Chattanooga Track Club-sponsored activity, which also benefits runners in this area. Three of the Carpet Capital Running Club’s Runner of the Year races were in Chattanooga.

Doug Hawley has been a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years. You can write to him at dhawley@optilink.us.