July 14, 2010

Doug Hawley: Work way up to half marathon

On the assumption that you have passed the doctor’s physical for the challenging Dalton Half Marathon race in October, take time out to set a goal.

A realistic goal for a first-time half marathoner simply should be to finish. All of the work going into preparation should not result in a DNF (Did Not Finish).

It is surprising the number of world-class runners who do not finish half marathon or marathon races. Injuries or health issues sometimes play a part, but they often exit early after realizing that they will not win.

As role models to so many aspiring runners, those folks do not set good examples. A runner dropping out of one race will find it too easy to drop out of the next one. Most people with pride will “finish the drill,” whatever their endeavors.

If possible, it is best to run with a partner — maybe even more — who is comparable in ability. This makes for more enjoyment as the miles seemingly go by much faster.

Regarding the pace with your partners, be mindful of the “talk test.” If gasping while talking, slow down where you can talk normally.

Many runners begin with runs on a flat track. It does not take long for the boredom of the 400-meter laps and a subsequent switch to the roads.

Please be careful on the roads. Challenging a two-ton vehicle does not provide good odds.

Runners or walkers are urged by law officials to go facing the traffic.

Some leisurely two- or three-mile runs are recommended in the beginning. That comes on recommended every other day, maybe five times a week, if comfortable. Many fitness experts recommend even the elite runners to take off one day a week.

Personally, I do some running every day, most of it on a leisurely pace.

This streak now has gone for 3 1/2 years, but nobody ever has accused me of having good common sense.

During these hot months, the best time for running is early morning.

Not only do you beat the heat, but you can feel more relaxed the remainder of the day.

If the early morning does not meet your busy schedule, try to wait until the sun has gone down in the evening. Mid-day running in the 90- to 100-degree range can be both uncomfortable and dangerous.

It is recommended that you drink plenty of fluids before and after your run to prevent dehydration. Water usually serves most people the best, though much can be said for sports drinks.

This is the second 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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