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Gotta run: A perspective on your running

My summer has been one of the warmest that I remember, partly because much of it so far was spent in the desert Southwest. Since I have been home, almost every day has been in the 90s, which isn’t so bad in itself, but the “sticking” point for us runners is the relentless humidity. Runners around the community have been telling me that their running is suffering right now because of that humidity. Mine is too, but just a few more weeks of this remain, so hang in there and your training will get a big boost when the temperatures and humidity lower soon.

So what do you say when you get the inevitable and most-asked runner’s question: “How is your running?” Here are some thoughts!

Running has a certain level of perspective, both for ourselves and when we consider others’ accomplishments and performance. Runners love to talk running, but others, many who have never done it or have any inclination to try, have no earthly idea if your accomplishment is good or bad, or somewhere in between.

Here are a few examples. Say you have the opportunity to tell a friend about your latest race, a good local 5K, and you mention that you broke 32 minutes for the first time. While that neighbor may not find your best finish as particularly impressive because he either doesn’t run or he has dozens of sub 20-minute 5Ks, any runner or former runner worth his or her salt will still congratulate you on a wonderful time because they realize the effort involved and the personal significance. Runners support one another, it’s just what we do.

But, no matter what you have accomplished in your running career, someone has gone farther, faster, longer and done it more often than you have considered possible. I was telling a just-off-to-college friend the other day about Andy Payne, the 20-year-old who won the first organized transcontinental running race. That college friend said, “I think I could do that!” Well, maybe so, and if that one is doable, then here are a few more to consider.

There are lots of us who have impressive long-run distances and a few runners locally have raced 100 miles or even more. But then you might hear of Ray Zahab, who ran 4,660 miles across the Sahara Desert in 2006. That trek was completed in 111 days, at an average of 42 miles a day. Or consider Ed Ettinghausen who ran 40 races of 100 miles or longer, all during 2014. For those who think their pace is important, how about Mike Morton who ran 100 miles, all at a pace quicker than eight minutes a mile, and also completed 172 miles during a 24-hour race.

About the 100-mile races, two of the top-rung runners are Tim Twietmeyer, with 25 sub-24-hour 100-mile Western States finishes, and Ann Trason who had 14 wins at the same race, some topping the men.

Maybe you talk to a friend at the Y who ran four marathons, a distance of 26.2 miles each, in the past 12 months. On the other end of that is Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days in 50 states in 2006. Or bigger yet, Larry Macon finished 239 marathons, all in the year 2013.

How about the friend who just said, “I just finished a month of running every day!” Mark Covert just recently ended a 45-year streak of running every day that he began in 1968.

In my opinion, unless someone specifically asks you about your own numbers that include pace, time or distance, then just keep them to yourself. I’m betting that someone else has done it bigger and better. Acquiring the most knowledge usually comes from keeping your ears open and your mouth limited. And finally and most important, when you do open the mouth, encourage that other runner and appreciate the effort that they have given! It’s just what runners do.

It’s now just less than two weeks until the United Way Sunset Run/Walk 5K on Sept. 2, and three weeks until the start of our Novant Health, Salisbury Parks and Recreation, SRR beginning runners class. You can check them out at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org .

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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