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Gotta Run: Winter Flight news, and when to take a day off

With just two weeks left before Rowan’s biggest race, news about some of the competitors is coming in. Runners and walkers of all ages and competition levels are signing up, which is always fun to watch and occasionally allows an exchange of dialogue about the race.

The 33rd Annual Novant Health Winter Flight 8K is set to kick off the local racing season. Similar to the Daytona 500 in Nascar, the best and most interesting race is first up. Without another local event since the Jan. 1 Resolution 5K, it is time to get rolling.

Speaking of getting it rolling, two of the fastest marathon women in North Carolina are set to compete. One of them is multiple time Winter Flight winner Molly Nunn. Nunn, a fantastic ambassador for the sport from Winston-Salem, just missed qualifying for the United States Olympic Trials Marathon in 2011 with her time of 2 hours 46 minutes and 8 seconds, just 8 seconds off the minimum standard. Nunn has a fastest 5K time of 17 minutes and 27 seconds.  She plans to try again to qualify, but her words were, “Do or do not, there is no try!”

Also on hand will be Natalie Lawrence, another 2:46 marathoner. Neal Wilkinson will be back with his inspiring National Anthem, made even better in the outdoor environment. A reminder that the half-mile fun run is free to all kids, 12 and under, and each of them gets a finisher’s medal. Registration for the 8K, the 5K Health Walk and the fun run continue online at www.sportoften.com and a printable registration from is available at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org.

I have now been dealing with my sciatic nerve issue for about three weeks. I’ve had plenty of help so far from Jeter Chiropractic and Fowler Physical Therapy. One of the things that I have to consider is whether a day off from running will help. It is hard to be an injured runner, especially when it is common to run through the initial discomfort on the way to better fitness. But running through pain is not the best move.

Occasionally there is a good reason to take a day off. Even though it might feel like it, you won’t lose your fitness and become a born-again couch potato. I love running just about every day, not only striving for a certain level of fitness but providing a sanctuary for mental issues like stress and problem solving. One of the most amazing things about running daily is how it starts off the day for me, successfully providing a jump start. The most dangerous result of missing a day is that I am not quite right mentally (that may not be a surprise to a few ex-wives) and a little more likely to be irritable. But regardless of this and however hard it may be, there are days when taking a day off is the right thing to do. There, I said it!

Here are a few specific signs that you might need a rest day from running or intense exercise.

• An increased resting heart rate could be an indicator that you are over-training or dealing with an unusual amount of stress. Monitor your waking heart rate for the best measure of these issues.

• If you feel generally fatigued, similar to moving along in a fog, and find simple tasks harder to get motivated to complete, take a day of rest. This one is hard to judge though, because sometimes going for a run can break the runner out of general malaise. A fast-paced walk can do the same.

• Trouble sleeping is another likely sign that training needs to take a short break. If you find yourself waking up more than usual and having difficulty going back to sleep and there are no other contributing factors, go ahead and take it down a notch.

• Moodiness might be a side effect of pushing too hard. If overreacting to little things, snapping at close friends or family or feeling depressed about your recent running, take that day off and expect almost immediate results. Family members beware until the next run is completed after the day off.

• Lingering and unexplained muscle soreness that is persistent and even worsening over time can lead to injury. That day off might just provide a huge boost. I recently had an upper thigh issue without a reasonable cause that is gone now once I had to take a few days off with the sciatic nerve.

With that said, and if you have earned a rest day, take one and make good use of it. Focus on eating and sleeping well and continue to stretch or foam roll as you normally would to maintain good muscular health.  As one friend said, “prehab” is better than rehab any day.

Congratulations to Martin Thorne for another successful endurance run. He joined several friends for a run across North Carolina from north to south. Martin ran 38 miles a day for four days through plenty of rain, from Roxboro to Hamlet for a total of 152 miles.

There is still space available in our beginning runners class that meets on Monday evenings at First Methodist Church. If interested, call 704-310-6741 or 704-202-6601.

Think about participating in Winter Flight! It is a wonderful celebration of running for all abilities.

See you on the roads!

David Freeze is a nationally certified running coach and president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net. Learn more at www.Ulearn2run.com

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