Apr 23, 2014
Kids’ running program
Runner’s Alley, a retail running shop in Manchester, is for the first time offering an eight-week running program for kids grades 3 to 6. During the program, kids will complete an entire marathon, culminating with the last mile as part of the Manchester Kids Marathon to be run on Saturday, Nov. 5, the day before the Manchester City Marathon. Guest speakers will talk about hydration and nutrition during the program. There will be a parents’ informational night in late August. The program begins Sept. 12 and runs Mondays and Wednesdays at Dorr’s Pond.
The Boston Marathon
Running the Boston Marathon is a goal of many a runner. Its popularity makes getting in a struggle. Obtaining a time that qualifies for the historic race is certainly challenging as well. Qualifying times for the 2012 Boston Marathon are based on a runner’s age and gender and must be achieved on or after Sept. 25, 2010. Visit www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/qualifying.aspx for a complete list of qualifying time requirements. For example, a male runner between the ages of 18 and 34 must run a marathon in a time of 3:10. However, running a time that qualifies does not guarantee entry into the race. Visit www.baa.org.
The Manchester City Marathon and Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, Nov. 6, and takes runners through a challenging course through the historic mill district. More than 2,000 runners take in views of the city, surrounding areas and fall foliage along the way. Visit cityofmanchestermarathon.com. Call 540-3146.
The Manchester City Marathon and Half Marathon will debut its Sports & Wellness Expo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Radisson Hotel Expo Center. The free event will take place the day prior to the race. The expo serves as a hub for runners to pick up their race packets and features leaders from all aspects of sporting and healthcare industries, according to a press release from the Manchester Marathon Association. The Expo will highlight recent trends in healthcare and nutrition, as well as exhibitions of athletic apparel and fitness equipment. Live demonstrations and musical entertainment will take place throughout the day. Visit cityofmanchestermarathon.com.
• Monadnock Half Marathon, Aug. 6, Jaffrey, www.monadnockhalfmarathon.com/home
• Waterville Valley Black Bear Half Marathon, Aug. 27, Waterville Valley, www.tritaniumsports.com
• CHaD Hero Half Marathon, Aug. 28, Hanover, www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=465644
• Pemi Youth Center 5K and Half Marathon, Sept. 3, Plymouth, www.stridesforyouth.org
• Taiche Real Estate Wicked Half Marathon, Sept. 24, Salem, Mass., www.bnsfitness.com/events/2007_9_29.htm
• 34th Annual Clarence DeMar Marathon, Sept. 25, Gilsum, www.clarencedemar.com
• Wilmington’s 7th Annual Half Marathon & 5K Run/Walk, Sept. 25, Wilmington, Mass., www.wilmingtonbusiness.com
• Applefest Half Marathon & Relay, Oct. 1, Hollis, www.applefesthalfmarathon.com
• New Hampshire Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K Road Race and Health Walk, Oct. 1, Bristol, www.nhmarathon.com
• Maine Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay, Oct. 2, Portland, Maine, www.mainemarathon.com
• Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon & Half Marathon, Oct. 2, Hampton, www.hamptonrockfest.com
• Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay & 5K, Oct. 15, Hartford, Conn., www.hartfordmarathon.com
• Amica Marathon, Oct. 16, Newport, R.I., www.amicamarathon.com
• Baystate Marathon, Oct. 16, Lowell, Mass., www.baystatemarathon.com
• Green Mountain Marathon, Oct. 16, South Hero, Vt., www.gmaa.net
• Cape Cod Marathon, Half Marathon & Staples Relay, Oct. 30, Falmouth, Mass., www.capecodmarathon.com
• White Mountain Milers Half Marathon, Oct. 30, North Conway, www.whitemountainmilers.com
• Manchester City Marathon & Half Marathon, Nov. 6, Manchester, cityofmanchestermarathon.com
• All Women & One Lucky Guy Half Marathon, Nov. 6, Newburyport, Mass., www.mainecoasthalf.com
• Third Annual Chilly Half Marathon, Nov. 13, Newton, www.fattmanproductions.com/roadraces.html
• Seacoast Half Marathon, Nov. 13, Portsmouth, www.seacoasthalfmarathon.com
• Boston Marathon, April 16, 2012, Boston, Mass., www.baa.org
New England Runner (nerunner.com) provides event listings, race results, news and resources.
Cool Running (www.coolrunning.com) provides training information, race listings, news and resources.
Hal Higdon’s website (www.halhigdon.com) provides a breadth of training plans, including marathon, ultra-marathon, 5K, winter training, as well as beginner plans.
Jeff Galloway’s website (www.jeffgalloway.com) offers training plans, information on training groups, resources, nutritional information and news.
The website www.mapmyrun.com lets runners create a route in advance online and provides training logs, nutritional plans and resources.
That’s how Goffstown resident Sharon Galatas described her signing up for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.
“I always wanted to do a marathon,” she said.
“I didn’t think about it, I just did it,” she added.
She was on the Internet looking around, spotted the event, and entered her name knowing there was a lottery system. She didn’t tell her husband but, naturally, her name was picked and so she had some explaining to do.
“My kids thought it was great,” Galatas said. “My husband thinks I’m crazy.”
So the Galatas’s will be making the cross-country trip in October so Sharon can pound the pavement in San Francisco.
“I looked at my dad and I was always impressed by him,” Galatas said. “You’re telling your kids you can do anything you want, that you can do anything you set your mind to.... At a certain age, they start calling you on that.
“My daughter said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’”
And turning back isn’t an option for her now.
For some, running is a way of life. It’s entrenched in daily routines. A proven way to stay healthy and lean, but there’s more to it than just that. It’s also a stress-reliever, a way to burn off anxiety. It’s therapeutic for some. It’s a mental test as well, because at some point during long runs and a marathon itself, it becomes a mental game just to put one foot in front of the other.
Pete Larson, a biology professor at Saint Anselm College, said running is a part of his daily activity — and now it’s a component of his professional work too, as he just had a paper accepted on the mechanics of running the Manchester Marathon. Betsy Anderson of Runner’s Alley in Manchester said running is simply fun, once you’re up and running, no pun intended.
“It’s easy,” Galatas said. “It’s easy as far as you can just get up in the morning and go running. You go out for 20 minutes and come back and feel like a different person.”
Taking the plunge
But there’s getting up and going for a run, and then there’s training for a marathon, typically a 16- to 18-week commitment that builds long runs all the way to 20 or 22 miles, culminating with the 26.2-mile race.
Now nearing the halfway point of her training, Galatas recently did a 10-mile run. Saturdays are the long runs. When she was growing up, Galatas said, her father often ran, and she remembers always being impressed by him. Through the years her running increased bit by bit to where she was regularly running two or three miles. Last year, she joined a training group with Runner’s Alley, a retail running shop with stores in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth, to train for a half marathon. She completed the half marathon, though at the time she said she couldn’t have imagined running another 13 miles.
Figuring she’d need some help along the way, Galatas signed on with Team in Training, which provides support to marathon runners in exchange for fundraising help. The organization raises money for leukemia and lymphoma research. The organization helps her with training and logistics and it organizes the Saturday long runs.
“I thought if I’m going to do this, I might as well do it for another purpose,” Galatas said. She committed to raising $3,200 for the organization.
The group also linked her up with people who will be running the same marathon as her. That was a concern of Galatas’s: that 26 miles was an awful long way to run without knowing anybody else around you. She’s met two other women who will be running it with her.
“It’s good when you run with people from your group,” Galatas said, though, juggling a hectic schedule two weeks ago, she had to do the 10-mile run on the treadmill, which was boring, “to say the least.”
“I’m committed to it,” Galatas said. “I’m going to do it, no matter what. It’s just in my mind.”
Some use it as a travel excuse, just like Galatas did. “It just looked like fun,” Galatas said. “It seemed like a beautiful area. It’s a good excuse to get a trip.” Planning a vacation around it could add extra motivation. (Though Anderson said one local runner opted to run a marathon in Phoenix and she didn’t like how flat the marathon was considering how hilly it is in this area.)
“You can see a new place in a different way,” Anderson said.
But it all comes down to what a particular runner is looking for, Anderson said. “There’s lots of ways to plan it.”
Runner’s high or something like that
People who have looked into running at all have probably come across the phrase “runner’s high,” a sense of euphoria associated with long-distance running in particular. Studies have revealed that intense endurance training can increase the flow of endorphins from the brain, which impacts moods. The effects vary greatly from individual to individual, reports indicated.
Runner’s high or not, runners said the act of picking up those feet and putting them down on the pavement has lasting impacts on their lives.
“For me at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than getting out and moving a little bit after sitting around all day,” Larson said. “Some days I’ll listen to music while I run. Some days I’ll have nothing but my surroundings around me. To me, it’s just an incredibly relaxing thing.”
Galatas had similar sentiments.
“It just gets rid of all your stress,” Galatas said. “It really does. You can go from feeling horrible to feeling fantastic.”
Her kids can always tell when she’s gone for a run. They’ll kid her when she’s irritating them and tell her she needs to go for a run, Galatas said.
“It just makes you feel good,” Galatas said.
Beyond just feeling good right after or during a run, runners say it can take over in a good way.
“It’s huge,” Larson said. “It’s a daily thing for me.... It’s become all-encompassing to some extent.... It’s actually become part of my professional life as well.”
Larson is referring to a paper he just got accepted on the topic of running mechanics in the Manchester Marathon. He also created a course at Saint Anselm in exercise physiology. Read more from Larson at www.runblogger.com. Larson has run eight marathons in the last two years, culminating earlier this year at the Boston Marathon. He also ran an ultra-marathon — 31 miles — in Maryland. He had been training more or less constantly for the last two years.
“Right now, I’m just running for me, keeping healthy,” Larson said, adding he’ll do a race here or there, likely in the 5K-to-10K range. Larson doesn’t run every single day but typically five or six days per week. He’s currently averaging 25 miles per week. He doesn’t have a race on the docket until January.
Taking the appropriate steps in the right shoes
Running is accessible and requires little in the way of gear and equipment. But the right shoes can make the difference between a lasting relationship with running and a short one.
Step one for beginning runners should probably be acquiring a good pair of running sneakers, and it’s important to make sure they are the right shoes.
At the Runner’s Alley, employees ask customers to take their shoes and socks off and first walk and then jog across the carpet. The employees are taking a look at running form, a runner’s arch, how the foot hits the ground and whether or not it’s pronating.
From there, employees ask what type of running the customer is going to be doing. Is the goal a 5K, a half marathon, a full marathon, trail running, an ultra-marathon, or two- to three-mile runs here or there? Are customers looking for something that’s super light or would they prefer a shoe with more support? Does a customer have a history of particular injuries?
Anderson said these things matter. Just picking up a pair of shoes at a box store, without really knowing what the shoe is designed for, isn’t helping anyone. In fact, it can result in injury, or at least an uncomfortable and unproductive running experience, she says.
After the shoes, runners probably want to think about picking up some technical socks. They are more expensive than a pair of cotton socks, but particularly for longer-distance running, the extra money is worth it when it comes to wicking moisture, and preventing blisters — and odor. Anderson said there are 250,000 sweat glands in people’s feet alone, and during the course of a marathon a runner would sweat out about one-third of a cup of moisture, just in his or her feet.
For women, finding a comfortable and supportive sports bra is key as well, Anderson said.
Compared to other sports and hobbies, running requires little from the pocketbook.
“You can walk out your front door and start running,” Anderson said.
Give it a good shot, Anderson said. It’s going to be challenging for first-time runners, but once their bodies get used to it, it will be very rewarding, she said.
“If you can walk, then you can run,” Anderson said. “It’s in everybody. It’s just fun.”
Running is a progression. Some people might be looking for instant gratification. They might go out and push too hard, run too far, too fast. They burn out quick and end up disliking the experience. It’s critical that new runners start off slow and with short distances. New runners shouldn’t be afraid to walk during runs, Larson said.
But the key is to make it fun. One of the biggest motivators is a race. So sign up for a race and hit the pavement, Larson said.
Picking a training plan
Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway each offer different training plans for beginners, as well as more advanced running programs. Galloway’s beginner programs incorporate walking as part of long runs, which Anderson said can make the activity less overwhelming. Higdon also suggests walking as a way to give your legs a rest in the middle of long runs. On his website (www.halhigdon.com), Higdon said his son ran a 2:18 marathon in which he walked through the water stations.
Every training plan is different, though most beginner plans are 16 to 18 weeks long. Higdon’s beginner plan includes four days of running, one of cross training and two rest days. Galloway’s beginner plan includes three days of running, one easy walk and three days of rest. There tends to be a bunch of marathons in the fall and a bunch in the spring. It’s obviously a long-term undertaking, so it’s a good idea to think logistically about how to incorporate a time-consuming training plan into daily life, Anderson said.
Runner’s Alley has a 5K group and a half marathon running group for people looking to train with others.
Once a new runner gets into the training, it’s important to take it slow.
“Listen to your body,” Anderson said. “Don’t do anything crazy.”
Generally, Anderson said training plans advise increasing mileage by about 10 percent per week. But it’s probably not a good idea to have the long run — most training plans include one particularly long run each week that builds throughout the program — make up 25 percent or more of weekly mileage, Anderson said.
Most training plans include a particularly long run each week that builds in mileage throughout the training plan. Then the plans taper leading up to the race so runners have as much energy as possible. Higdon’s beginner plan reaches 20 miles, while Galloway’s beginner plan does include a 26-mile run a few weeks before the race.
Running groups are a nice option for new runners in particular, as they provide some camaraderie, runners said.
An 18-week training plan takes a mental and physical commitment for sure, and it requires a substantial time and logistical commitment as well. People need to work around their work schedules, their kids’ schedules, vacations at this time of year — not to mention last week’s 95-degree heat. Especially with kids, finding time for workouts can be difficult.
“You just have to make time,” Galatas said. “It works out. You can get up earlier. It definitely changes things. I can’t go out for drinks on a Friday night like I used to, because on Saturday morning you’ll feel it.”
“It’s definitely a time commitment,” Anderson added.
During the week, Galatas incorporates speed work, hills and some cross training, and a day off. It’s all building on the long runs. Galatas prefers running with other people and she likes runs that take her from point A to point B: “I don’t like running out and back, running the same route twice,” she said.
Day to day, the running experience can vary. Some days, 18- to 20-mile training runs come easy, but on others, much shorter runs can be a struggle, Larson said.
Runners use a social media website called the DailyMile, which is essentially Facebook for athletes. It allows runners to create a profile and keep a training log.
“It’s a pretty handy thing to check,” Larson said.
Self-competitive, Larson opts to run by himself for the most part, though he’ll run with his dog a lot. He’s run some with the Granite State Racing Team, but his dog is his most frequent training partner. The competition is less about who he can beat and more about pushing himself hard.
“My goal was to initially do well in a race,” Larson said. “That got me hooked and pushed me to do better and beat myself.”
Figuring out how to fuel yourself
Runners also need to think about how to properly fuel themselves and how to make sure they’re staying hydrated. Runners often use energy bars and gels to aid them along the way. Anderson said it’s a good idea to pack a sports drink or water for runs longer than 45 minutes. If a runner is training for a marathon, he or she will regularly be running longer than 45 minutes. Waist belts that hold water bottles and room for some food are key. There are also waist belts that carry water bladders.
“You can figure out what works well,” Anderson said.
Does a runner like energy gels, or bars, or dates for food? Does he or she prefer gels with caffeine or without? What about sports drinks? There is some trial and error, Anderson said. Not everything is going to react well with your body, particularly after you’ve run for more than two hours. That can be a whole new ball game. For that reason, officials suggest not trying anything new leading up to the marathon and certainly not on race day. In other words, if you’ve never had it before, don’t make spicy pad Thai your night-before-the-marathon meal.
Anderson said she thought runners don’t think about the hydration component enough. Dehydration is obviously a major problem, but being too hydrated can be just as bad, since it creates an imbalance of electrolytes and salt. That’s where listening to your body is so important, Anderson said, adding runners should be sure to do as much research as they can on training.
Marathons and other long-distance races are hugely popular in the area, with many selling out in a matter of hours. Anderson said if a runner has his heart set on a particular race, he needs to sign up as soon as possible. Nobody wants to undertake a long-term training plan only to find out registration is full.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Larson said. “The first one is always the most memorable. It’s the challenge, the wind-up to doing it. It’s a challenge to see if you can.”
With weeks of training in the rear view mirror, the starting line really marks the beginning of what you’ve worked for.
“I think the most memorable part, first of all, is just standing at the starting line realizing what you’re about to do, how much of a challenge it really is,” Larson said. “Toward the end, the last eight miles, how hard it is to just keep going. It’s a test of perseverance; it’s almost more mental than physical.”
Anderson runs the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., each year.
“I wasn’t prepared for the emotional experience,” Anderson said of her first time. “It is a huge accomplishment. And a week later, I was still talking about it.”
For her, the military piece was inspirational and humbling as well. As she ran, she came upon a group of soldiers in full fatigues and backpacks, with one former comrade in a wheelchair in the middle, running the full race together.
“It was a very moving experience,” Anderson said.
After runners get past their training peak in the marathon of 20 or 22 miles, it becomes a mental game and just finding a way to “muscle through,” Anderson said. “True grit.”
“You put the training in,” Anderson said. “That kind of moves you.”
Everybody has different goals. Some people are trying to finish in 2:30, while others just want to come in faster than five hours.
“No one is ever last,” Anderson said. “The mental piece of it is just so huge.”
“Once you’ve done your first one, that’s when you can start playing around with your goals,” Anderson said.
Or maybe you’ll never do another one, but runners doubted anyone who did a marathon would regret having done it.
Running marathons can put runners in good company too, something that’s unlike other major sports. In a competitive setting, most people will never try to strike out David Ortiz or defend against Kevin Garnett’s turnaround jump shot, but entering a marathon can put runners on the same pavement as Olympians and world-class runners.
Larson got started down this running road when he and his wife signed up for a four-mile race in Maine in 2007. At the time, Larson had never run four miles before. The most ground he’d covered was three miles. One thing led to another and soon Larson was entering more races, increasing his distance, ultimately getting into a marathon.
Running at the Disney Marathon last year in January, Larson said it was fun to run through the theme parks, though the 20-degree weather was a surprise. While people might have expected a warm race in the winter, it felt like home to Larson. At water stops as people dumped unused water on the ground, it froze, he said.
But the Smuttynose Marathon in Hampton might have been the most memorable for Larson, as that’s where he qualified for the Boston Marathon. For his age group, he needed to beat a time of 3:15.
Larson said sometimes you don’t really remember the last eight miles of a race.
“It becomes a matter of forcing yourself to put one foot in front of the other,” Larson said, adding that in some of them, like the Disney or Smuttynose, he felt great the whole time.
He’ll often think of his kids as he approaches the finish line. That’s a good motivator. Food is a pretty strong motivator to get people across the finish line as well. At a marathon in Burlington, Vt., there was Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream waiting for Larson at the finish as a reward. Chili awaits runners at the end of the Manchester Marathon.
Most people approach their first marathon without a time goal in mind, maybe something arbitrary or vague, but few people run their first marathon looking to qualify for Boston, officials say. It’s a simpler goal: just get across the finish line.
“I just want to cross the finish line in one piece,” Galatas said.
Don’t think, just do it
“If you have something you want to do, you can’t think about it; the more you think about it, the more you’ll put it off,” Galatas said. “You just have to do it.”
That’s what got her to sign up for a marathon.
Larson said he had been running off and on throughout his whole life. But he didn’t run with any regularity until 2007. He started essentially because he was out shape with two kids and a new job at Saint Anselm.
“The new job plus my kids kind of destroyed my health,” Larson said. “I needed a change is basically what it came down to.”
A number of students at Saint Anselm run the Boston Marathon each year, and several of them were in Larson’s classes.
“That sort of sparked my interest,” Larson said. “If they can do it, why can’t I? I made it a personal challenge and I got through the first one. It’s kind of about testing yourself.”
With obesity and inactivity such big problems in this country, running is accessible to everyone.
“One of the best things you can do is to get active,” Larson said. “It’s as simple as going for a long walk and slowly adding a few jogs, and maybe you’ll find you have a love of running,” Larson said.
Larson looks to himself. He was out of shape and stuck in the cycle of inactivity. Now he’s done eight marathons and an ultra-marathon.
“It really changed my life,” Larson said.
|®2014 Hippo Press.