By Michaela Gibson Morris
There is power in running with other people.
“The whole thing is staying motivated and having that accountability,” said Tupelo runner Carla Lane, who credits her running group that formed around Marathon Makeover three years ago with keeping her in stride.
Even if you don’t have a regular group, area runners and walkers can harness that group power at races planned around the region.
“There’s a 5K somewhere every weekend,” said Lane, who coordinates a group of Tupelo runners.
In fact, many weekends in September and October feature multiple races within the region.
Runners can use their feet to support their passion. Most of the races in the region are connected to charitable causes supporting civic projects, health awareness and schools.
The Komen North Mississippi Race for the Cure, which will be Oct. 25, is one of Lane’s favorites.
“It’s not just the cause, it’s the people,” Lane said.
Being a runner isn’t easy, but it is accessible and rewarding.
“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” Lane said.
Don’t be afraid to get out there, even if you’re not a runner.
“Three miles is three miles, whether you’re running at a 6-minute pace, a 12-minute pace or walking,”
Most 5K races welcome walkers.
“I wish more people would jump into a 5K,” Lane said, because there’s a tremendous sense of community in walking and running together.
There are a number of apps and training plans available online. “Couch to 5K” may be one of the best known and most respected.
“Basically, you can go from walking to running in 11 to 12 weeks,” said Lane, who noted that as with any new exercise program, it’s advised to check with your health care provider.
Running is not an equipment-heavy sport, but good shoes are essential. Stores like Trails and Treads, which specialize in running shoes, can help runners and walkers determine pronation – how the foot falls – as well as size.
It’s also important to build rest into your training schedule. Lane incorporates strength training, non-running cardio and a day of complete rest into her weekly routine.
“If you just pound the pavement, you’ll have injuries,” Lane said. “You always need one day of rest, where you don’t do anything else.”
As temperatures remain warm through late September, hydration is a key part of running safety. Runners should drink plenty ahead of their runs and plan accordingly for water stops, Lane said.
How often a runner participates in organized races depends on personal preference, training goals and budget. Many runners hit one or two 5Ks a month. Lane, who is training for a half marathon, might do a handful over the course of a quarter.
Unless you are running a 5- to 6-minute-mile pace, Lane suggests avoiding starting at the front of the pack on race day
“You don’t want to go out too fast,” Lane said. “You’ll always do better if you go for the middle.”
Just for fun
Color runs and Glow runs are all about the spectacle and fun and have become increasingly popular. They are typically untimed events. This weekend alone there are three fun-focused races – the Color Invasion in Oxford benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association, the FIVE TEN GLO Run at the Tupelo Health and Wellness Festival, and Back-to-School Bash Glow Run in Ripley.
“They are just for fun,” Lane said.
The fun runs don’t stop after this weekend. Color runs are set for Sept. 20 in Ripley, and Oct. 4 in Amory. Medical students will host a Cadaver Course “zombie run” in Tupelo on Oct. 11, and the Banah Pregnancy Testing Center will host a costume run on Oct. 25 in Pontotoc.
Runners who want to mix fun with running for time can check out the Oct. 3 Run Forrest Run 5K, which will be held in conjunction with the Tupelo Reads event. The timed run supported by the Tupelo Running Club will include awards for best Forrest Gump, hippie and Elvis costumes. After the run, there will be a screening of the movie, starring Tom Hanks.
Runners looking for longer distances will have two 10Ks and a half-marathon to chose from this fall.
In Starkville, the Mississippi State Community Emergency Response Team is hosting a half-marathon in conjunction with a 5K on Oct. 18 on the Mississippi State campus.
The PACE Diabetes Awareness Race, which grew out of a service project for Itawamba Community College’s college life class three years ago, is expanding to incorporate the 10K, said instructor Marty Cooper. This year, the race will be Oct. 25 to coincide with ICC’s homecoming.
“There’s not very many 10Ks,” Cooper said. “Serious runners like the longer distance.”
Pontotoc’s Rudolph Run will finish out the 2014 run season with a 10K, 5K and fun run. The hilly course is a challenge, but the race has won fans in the running community.
“The race has grown every year,” said race director Ashley Tutor. “All proceeds go back directly into our community though the woman’s club.”