Loads of Kids running the Streets of Starkville, MS

Another week of running, and no major problems-always a good thing! Calves and other muscles all hanging in there. I should mention that although I have been running a long time, really since I was a little kid, that I am not really built like a traditional runner. Just not quite skinny enough. I enjoy lifting weights and what have you too much I guess. Currently, I am 47 years old, 5’9″, and weigh 170 lbs. My legs are probably more developed for jumping, as I used to play basketball a lot and liked to jump. I could jump pretty high and could easily dunk a basketball with two hands, even did behind the head dunks and other things like that. Consequently, my legs, especially my calf muscles, are not ideal for running distances.  I have found this to be especially true from my late 30’s on. For a period in my 20’s through early 30’s, I ran and biked so much, my weight was only about 155 or so, but then I started pushing the weights more and was 200 lbs by age 40. Sure, I could bench press 350 several times and do a ton of weight on the leg press, but I certainly could not run as fast or far. Didn’t really matter at the time, although I did miss the days of being able to run 4:50 per mile for 3 miles or better. But, when my kid started running, I had to change my habits to keep up with him (I can’t really do that any more). So, now, I am 30 pounds lighter. It is much easier to run, but my calves still get pretty tight some times. As a result, I find myself constantly working on my running form and with experimenting with shoes, always hoping to find the perfect shoe for my feet, build, and particular way of running. Between shoes for myself, my wife, my son, and even shoes I sometimes buy for kids on our cross country team, I spend a ton of money on shoes. If I gave up this crazy habit, I could probably have a fancy car or something! But, I do like running, and I am not one of those crazies who runs barefoot on pavement, so I need shoes.  On the practical side, I try to buy shoes only on sale either locally or online. Eastbay.com often has some good deals, particularly for cross country running shoes, which my son uses. I will say that I am somewhat cheap and will never buy a pair of shoes for myself that cost anything near or over $100. I have bought some $100 plus shoes for Joseph, but I feel like since that is his sport, that is part of the deal. For me, I am super happy when I can find a closeout sale and find a pair of shoes for $30 or less. Believe it or not, some of my favorite shoes have been under this price.  Lately, I have been running in some Saucony trail shoes that feel great! And, my calf muscles have been great as well. I think I have finally found a way to manage their getting sore by having very erect posture and having my feet hit the ground in just the right spot. Its almost like I put my feet out in front a bit more than I used to, then follow with my body so that my hips land directly above the foot, maybe even a hair behind. The trick is to not let the footstrike be behind me at all. I know this sounds intuitive, but apparently I have not always done it, or at least I have not been doing it the last few years. Maybe footstrike is less important when you are younger and lighter, I don’t know, but I do know that I as an older somewhat heavier runner (than I used to be), it is important, at least to me!!!

Last Thursday, the SHS kids got a 800m interval workout in. Most of them did a great job, which was nice to see. Many of the runners are in much better shape than they were a year ago at this time. Summer training is evident with many of them. Joseph did six 800’s with 400m jogs between. His times were between 2:22 and 2:30 for the slowest, so I was pretty happy with that!

On Friday, we did a easy 6 mile run, which went pretty well. We followed that by getting up early the next morning and running 12 miles with the Boardtown running club. Joseph got a good weight/core workout in that afternoon. We again hit the road on Sunday, with Ethan, Kamau and Steve joining us for a 6 mile run, although Joseph did at least 9. He took off like a crazy banshee after the 1/4 mile and we never saw him again until he showed up about 20 minutes after we were through.

On Monday morn, Joseph got up and jogged an easy 3 miles. Some of the other XC kids met at the school and ran 4 miles or so. Unfortunately, we live a good ways out of town and will not be able to join them for any morning runs in town and still have time to get back home, shower and make it back to school and work on time. That afternoon we ran with the XC team, with most of the ones who run with me doing about 6 miles, although Joseph got in about 9 and a half. On Tuesday, we did a fartlek run that started with a 10 minute easy warm up. Following that, we alternated 4 minutes pretty fast with 3 minutes easy, doing that 5 times. Most of the advanced boys ended up with about 7 miles of running. Joseph got a head of us and did probably one or two more of the fast 4 minute bursts, all of which were faster than ours, and probably at least two more miles.  He got up early Wed. morn for another easy 3.5 miles on the trail. It was very nice out! That afternoon he ran an hour with the team, although most of them only went about 5 miles. Then many of them did a light weight workout. Joseph has been doing his weight/core workouts at home, in part because he already has a good plan, and also because he likes to spend his time at practice running. Plus, he has guitar practice on Wednesdays and has to leave as soon as possible after running to make it on time. However, when we got home, we both got a nice workout in doing pushups, pullups, dips, curls, shoulder flys, and various ab exercises. It ended up being a very good workout.

On Thursday, we finally got to get the kids off the paved roads and ran on the South Farm!! Started the day with our warmups and mile jog. Then some strides and various drills before doing a mock two mile race. This was not an easy course either, very hilly, and very loose gravel. I believe they must have just graded the road! Even so, they all had the same course to run on. We were using this as a means of determining who would be on the various 4 person teams participating in our first meet this year, which is a relay race. Not too many surprises in who finished where. The relay meet will take place next Thursday at Choctaw Trails in Clinton, MS.  The runners who were in better shape followed the two mile race with a 4 mile easy run with me, although Kamau and Joseph ran ahead of us. Ethan and Alex ran with me. Most of the rest of the group went back via a 2.5 mile easy run.

Tomorrow, another easy run, and Saturday, another run with the Boardtown group. We will only be able to run with this group two more times before our Saturday meets start, which is a bummer. It is so nice to run with the many great runners that run with them!

I have to say, that Steve Shaffer, a political science professor who often runs with us, has been a great help with the team, both in donating money to help pay for bus drivers for meets, and in running with some of the kids during practice. It is a real luxury to have people out making sure everyone is ok. THANKS STEVE!!

I can’t tell you how anxious I am to see how our runners respond in their first meet next week! I am sure both Coach Woomer and Coach Barnett feel the same way. But, whatever happens, I do know that our team is much farther along than at this point last year!


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