In Sports

With three weeks left, there is still time to get ready for Al's Run.

It's not too late to get ready for the race

For a lot of people, the thought of running a 5-mile race is enough to send them right back to the sofa and the remote control. The worries vary, ranging from "I might have to walk" to "I could never line up with all those serious racers" to "I'd be the only person out there who isn't in top physical condition."

Let's put those self-limiting thoughts to rest right now.

Runners in the Briggs & Al's Run & Walk for Children's Hospital come in every shape, size, and physical condition. A large number of them will walk during some portion of the race. The vast majority are racing only against themselves, trying to improve their time from last year's race. Only a small percentage (the most elite runners) actually races each other for the medals.

Don't worry about the other runners; worry about yourself. There are just more than three weeks left until the race; all you need is some motivation and a plan, and you, too, can experience the sense of accomplishment that all runners feel when they see the finish line banner.

Develop a plan

Plan to exercise at least 3-4 times a week for 30-60 minutes each session. This can include running, run / walking, treadmill or elliptical workouts. This level of training should enable you to complete the 5-mile race in 45-60 minutes (9-12 minute miles). People who mix walking and running may complete the run-walk in 60-80 minutes (12-16 minutes per mile).

If you haven't been on a regular training program, start with 30 minutes of running / walking and gradually increase the running portion of your workout.

Arrange your training week to include one or two medium-length runs; one long run; and one cross training session of aerobics, weight lifting, elliptical trainer, or just a walk and stretch. The length of time devoted to the long run or the run/walk mix should gradually increase until you reach the time it will take you to complete five miles. By the last week of training, if you are able to run two 30 minute runs and one 60 minute run, you should easily be able to complete the 5-mile race.

It's generally easier to train for a specific length of time rather than for a specific distance. However, at some point you will have to measure how far you are running to keep yourself honest and to get an idea of pace. By going to a high school track or measuring the distance of your run with the car you will be able to determine whether you are running 9, 10 or 12 minute miles.

The effects of training

As a result of regular training, you will increase the strength of your heart, muscles, and joints. You will also grow more blood vessels in your lungs and muscles. This increased number of blood vessels causes a decrease in your resting blood pressure. It takes time for blood vessels to grow, protein to be built into stronger muscles, and cellular structures to increase endurance capabilities. Don't expect to see these results overnight.

Race day

Don't exercise for two days before the race - or do a minimal workout consisting of ten minutes of easy jogging. Let your muscles rebuild and "peak" for the big event. You don't need to carbo-load for a 5-mile race. It is better to have a lighter meal the night before the race.

The morning of the race, eat a light meal an hour or two before the start. Stop fluid intake 1-2 hours before the race so you don't have to stop for a bathroom break. Try to jog for five to eight minutes approximately 10-15 minutes before the race starts. Don't forget to stretch.

Don't psych yourself out by thinking about the race as a competition; your only competition is yourself. Once the race begins, do NOT go too fast. If you get caught up in the excitement of the first mile, you will pay dearly during the last mile.

Instead, enjoy yourself. Talk to the people around you. Don't be afraid to walk. Hang in there for the last couple of miles. Pat yourself on the back when you cross the finish line.

Then, head over to the party and celebrate. You just finished the 5-mile Briggs & Stratton Al's Run and Walk for Children's Hospital.


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