August 14, 2010

Doug Hawley: Building up strength, endurance key to race

Doug Hawley
The Daily Citizen

— As runners prepare almost two months to the day for the first Dalton Half Marathon, they should be aware of one key word: PATIENCE. That old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” long has imparted to us the message of a building process. The same can be said for our national 13.1-mile foot race on Oct. 16.

In anticipation of the event, some area runners already have run the course. That is noble to a certain extent — if you are ready for it.

One veteran area runner had been nursing an ankle injury. With the lure of running this distance with his friends, the ankle did not prevent him from negotiating the full distance.

His reaction after the run: “I’m exhausted!” It is no wonder that he has spent extensive time over the years on the injured list.

As world-class coaches and runners emphasize, build up your distance over a period of time. Do not cram everything late like that college exam (one of my past failings).

By this time, if you are serious about participation in the Dalton Half Marathon, you should be doing one weekly long run of at least six miles. Try to make it as comfortable as possible.

Plan to run anywhere from one to two minutes per mile slower than your projected half marathon time. Otherwise, you can cover relaxing three and four-mile runs on your other four to six days.

Marathon (26.2 miles) participants long have been urged to build up to at least one or two 20-mile runs in their preparation. We hear much less about the half marathon’s long runs. Logically, the half marathoners can shoot for a distance of 10 miles.

In either the half or the marathon, the idea of the longest run is to be on your feet — with the slower pace — about the same amount of time as the actual races.

If doing six miles now (at least two or three times) as your long run, you might feel ready to go eight miles. Do that weekly for three weeks or so.

If not having a particularly good week running or other problems, there is nothing wrong with cutting back on the mileage. When feeling a little stronger, go as far as 10 miles. Do at least two such runs.

If you feel inclined to run the full distance, do it no later than two weeks before the race. Use the two weeks prior to the race for tapering and the final week for more resting.

Be mindful that there is nothing wrong with occasional walking in your workouts. Jeff Galloway, an elite private coach and former U.S. Olympic marathoner, long has advocated this aspect.

Many people would do well to walk extensively after their workouts, which can help minimize muscle tightness.

Particularly in this blistering weather, please stay hydrated with liquids before, during and after the workouts.

• EXTRA FOCUS: Dalton’s Karen Clement is going “beyond the call of duty” as she awaits the half marathon.

“I will be running the Dalton Half as part of my training run for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7,” Clement said via e-mail. “Not only will I be running the 13.1 miles, but I will also run seven miles that morning before the race starts so that I’ll have a total of 20 miles when I cross the finish line.

“I’m not running for a PR. I will be running the NYC for a charity called Team For Kids which funds local elementary school running programs in all 50 states. I’m running in order to get more kids running. I consider myself a beginning runner since I’ve only been running for less than 18 months.”

She will be doing the New York race with Sabrina Locklear of Calhoun, who also plans to run the Dalton Half Marathon.


This is the eighth in a 16-part instructional series leading up to the Dalton Half Marathon, which is scheduled for Oct. 16. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, finished in the top 10 percent of the Boston Marathon in each of five races from 1976-81. You can write to him at