Tips for the summer running schedule

Mark DeLap
Posted 6/7/23

In the Wind - a weekly column by Mark DeLap

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Tips for the summer running schedule


I have never run a full marathon.

The farthest race I’ve ever run was a 25K in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was called “The Riverbank Run” and I ran it four times. I can remember the longest run I had ever done was 20 miles in training for it.

I have often watched marathon runners and noticed how incredibly smooth they were. Almost as if they were effortless in their stride and in their pace. I learned something about how they trained and how they ran.

This last year, I made the number one mistake of distance runners. I did not hydrate and landed a great case of heat stroke. Every muscle in my body began to cramp and it was more serious than I anticipated and after much research, found out that you can actually die from heat stroke, not to mention it will affect every sun-filled adventure from that point on.

Whatever tips you may read here today, the first is most important. Hydrate. Run with a water bottle or take quick breaks where you can grab a cold bottle of water.

The other day as I was training for another 5K that I hope will happen again soon, I was running one of my “stamina runs” as I call it. This is a slow run not for distance, but for time. In my younger days, these were sometimes two to three hours in length.

I always enjoyed these runs because I was not on the clock/distance. I was just on the clock. I didn’t run to get a certain distance in a set amount of time. It was just a set amount of time and I could go as slow as I wanted.

It builds stamina.

Now, this may not be textbook or found in your national running magazines, but through the years, I’ve learned what my own body can handle, how much I can challenge it and what it takes to get me where I want to be.

In my long runs I have learned how to rest in the run. As I did, I realized how marathoners did it. It also taught me much about the race we are running that tells us to “run with endurance.” Life is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. And to enjoy it, we need to learn to rest in the run.

This was not learned in one day. It took practice. To get the most out of your run, you must learn how to rest and recover without stopping. Seems like an impossibility, but it’s really not.

To do this, you have to change your position. You have to change your posture. You have to change your thought patterns, or your projections and you have to change your pace. AND this all must be done with patience. Position. Posture. Projections. Pace. Patience.

If you can master those things, your run will be enjoyable, you can build stamina and you can see more of the beauty you run through.

So… first and foremost, to be a distance runner, one of the main enemies of your own soul is your thought patterns and the fears or unreal aspirations. You must realize that there are going to be some that are faster than you and some that are slower. You must not try to compete with the faster or be frustrated with the slow.

You have to find your rhythm and your own pace. On a resting run, the pace will be slow. Many will pass you. Most of what you “think” they are thinking about you is a lie. They are running their own race and not worried about yours. You are not sprinting for time. You are running for stamina.

Don’t think about how tired you are or how certain body parts “hurt,” and for goodness sake, don’t think about stopping and running more tomorrow. Stay your course. You’ve planned your run, now run your plan.  Position yourself to a slow pace. Don’t speed up or slow down.  Stay consistently slow and tell yourself it’s all a part of your plan.

When I run for time or am stressed, my shoulders tend to hunch and my head goes down sending my neck down into my shoulders and in that position, I tense and stress.  You must constantly be conscious of lowering your shoulders and taking deep breaths to relax. Run as if you are taking a rest.

When you stress and tense, lactic acid goes into the muscle and pretty soon, there is an early onset of fatigue. Shake your hands out, stretch your fingers as you run, don’t make fists, but just touch your finger to your thumb gently as if holding a feather there. Anything you can do to stop the tension will bring a comfort to the body – even in the midst of a grueling run.

You can comfort your head up or down, but don’t tense the neck. When the head is up, your focus can be on the things of beauty around you. Divert your mind to those things… “think upon those things that are lovely.”

Sometimes music, sometimes a book on tape, sometimes take the headphones off and listen to nature. Do what you do to relax. This is again, for the mind or the “projection.” When I run, especially if I am running the same route each day, I make a special note to find the new.  A new flower, a new color, a new sound, a new scent. If you are consciously looking for the new in each day, the stagnation of the mind won’t make you quit as easily. Look forward to, anticipate, expect – all things that peak the human spirit.

It’s you time. It’s go time. It’s a refreshing run that yields great benefits. For you walkers out there… apply the same principles. Find a rest in your run. Find a rest in your journey. Be like the eagles, they molt all year long – as they fly, as they sleep, as they eat… they molt. Always renewing their feathers, their strength and their life.