July 14, 2010

Doug Hawley: Lace 'em up and let's go running

You’ve probably heard the athletic adage, “He (or she) can do anything he (or she) wants to do.” This pertains to that natural male or female athlete. My personal feeling is the addition of two key words are necessary to the saying: “WITHIN REASON.”

Let’s say that it had been my lifelong goal to play defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons. No doubt, the Birds would be awestruck by my physique of 5 feet, 7 inches and 145 pounds.

By the time the Falcons finished laughing, you would hope nobody died from hysterics. From a positive standpoint, such reaction might give me extra motivation as a standup comic.

On the flipside, an Atlanta defensive tackle could run into a similar obstacle as a candidate for the Dalton Half Marathon. That comes with being in the 6-4 to 6-7 range and somewhere north of 300 pounds.

Not wanting to make such a hulking man mad, you do make every effort to thwart any laughter for someone hard-pressed to do 40-yard dashes even considering a 13.1-mile run.

Like football players and athletes in other sports, you as a more realistic half marathoner are urged to get a complete doctor’s physical before your basic training — much more than the old military days of a good cough getting you into the fray.

Today’s doctors seem more fitness-oriented than the previous generation. You find more of them competing in marathons and half marathons. If picking such a doctor for your physical, you might even pick up some additional training tips and not just the cholesterol and blood pressure readings.

Once cleared by the physician, make sure that you have the right footwear for training. Get a pair that provides good support. There is also the rule of thumb (no pun intended) that you allow a space the size of that digit between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.

My primary choice for years has been the Pegasus, a Nike product. As a creature of habit, there has been little reason to change.

You would do well to get your shoes through a sporting goods store. There are some highly-regarded businesses in the immediate area and Chattanooga. Veteran runners who have the expertise often serve as the sales associates.

After running a few times and being satisfied with the footwear, consider getting a second pair. If it is the same brand, do not duplicate the color. An additional pair can be used to replace wet shoes — and help avoid the monotony of seeing the same shoes on a regular basis.

When getting into serious training, you might want to consider some racing flats, which will be about two ounces lighter. These can be used for races and speed workouts on the track.

No, I am not in the shoe business, though it might seem that way. Most solid shoes will run in the $75-80 range.

Some runners have learned the hard way that bargain prices are not always the answer. They pay more in medical bills due to poorer footwear. Runners can expect between 300 and 500 miles of good wear on their shoes.

According to Running USA, the half marathon is the “hottest distance” in American road racing. Over the past decade, the number of participants has increased an amazing 131 percent to more than 1.1 million people in 2009.

In four months, Dalton will be adding to that number.

This is the first in a weekly 16-part series of instructional columns leading to the first national Dalton Half Marathon on Oct. 16. It is primarily geared toward those running their first 13.1-mile event.

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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    February 3, 2013

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