Thursday, November 3, 2011

In running season, change is only constant |

In running season, change is only constant |

By Bob Wiles
November 02, 2011 2:00 AM
As I enjoyed a run through the woods behind Portsmouth High School on Saturday morning, it occurred to me that the last year has slid past me very quickly. It seems like yesterday that the limbs on the trees were just budding and now they are surrendering their exhausted leaves to the autumn winds.

It reminded me that we runners also move through cycles during the year. Parts of the year are centered on training and some months are ideal for racing. Sure, there are folks who race all year long, but even those hearty souls tend to make use of different surfaces and distances that change with the seasons. Road races give way to snowy trail races and outdoor track events move to shorter indoor tracks.

The point is that nothing stays the same. We are always in a constant state of evolution. Hopefully we spend most of that time moving forward, but sometimes things get in our way that cause us to regress. And sometimes we are forced to find the silver lining in those moments when we aren't moving forward as we had planned.

Taking time after the fall races to let our bodies recover is an important part of training. While we may surrender some aerobic fitness during this recovery, we are actually preparing ourselves to be better next year by giving tired muscles and small twinges a chance to fully heal. In this case, it is a very good trade-off to sacrifice some fitness that will quickly be re-gained once you start up again in a couple of weeks.

Want proof that taking a little time off to recover is not going to ruin your chances of running well next year? Look at America's finest track runner over the last decade, Bernard Lagat. He takes the month of October off every year to let his body recover from a long racing season. In fact, he gained 12 pounds in the month of October this year while enjoying his rest! If our nation's best runner thinks that taking a month completely off from running and apparently eats everything that crosses his face during that month, surely us mortals can allow ourselves a little recovery time and a couple of slices of thanksgiving pie in the coming weeks.

And speaking of taking a break, the time has come for this column to go into hibernation for a few months. When we began the Seacoast Running column in March, the goal was to discuss interesting running-related events taking place in the Seacoast during the primary running season, which we decided was roughly March through October.

Over the last eight months I have tried to offer some helpful advice on training and racing and share my strategies for attacking some of our most popular race courses. This summer also saw a handful of rare opportunities to meet and interview running icons who visited us on the Seacoast. Having Dick Beardsley and Dean Karnazes visit our town and running with all of us on our favorite routes is not something that happens every year and we were very lucky to share that.

I think my favorite aspect of writing this column each week is that it created opportunities to meet more runners in the area than I ever had before. I have really enjoyed chatting with countless runners at races all year long. My favorite thing is hearing parents tell me about their children and how they are falling in love with running and enjoying their progress.

I also learned that a ton of people who are not runners follow the running scene on the Seacoast. I found myself discussing races and other running events with people at cookouts, youth soccer games, even at the grocery store, all because they had read this column and were interested in the running community.

The Seacoast Running column will resume in the spring and I will once again try to find interesting and helpful topics to write about each week. There were several instances where suggestions or questions from local runners served as the starting point for a column. That is something I am very grateful for and I'm looking forward to more of that next year.

For now, I'll wish everyone a fun and successful conclusion to the fall and I'll see you next year!

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at

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