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Think You're too OLD and OUT of SHAPE to run a 1/2 Marathon? (P.S. After reading this, you'll change your mind!)

To anyone who thinks that running may not be for them, read on...

Many people have asked me about the running club, its function and what we do.

Most of the questions go something like this: "I'd like to run with you guys on Saturdays, but I haven't done anything like that since high school." A couple of people point at their beer bellies and shrug. Others remember running as something painful and punishing.

When done correctly, running isn't painful, punishing and you can start out with as large of spare tire around your waist as you want.

Sample: Rusty Coy.

July 2007: 200+ pounds, and the last time he ran most of you weren't born. I think the Great Depression had just ended and gas was 34 cents a gallon.

When my Dad and his wife Suzette (who had NEVER run before) started their running program in July, there was a lot of trouble running 2 miles. The initial goal for these two was to run in a marathon relay, each completing a 6 or 7 mile leg. With just three months until race day, I am sure this seemed like an unreachable goal at times.

At first, like many runners training for the first time, or after an extended break, my dad ran too hard on his runs. The following days were funny to watch, however, as he hobbled around work like an older man than he already is!

After adjusting his pace, to a personal, manageable pace, he was able to extend his runs that were once 2 miles to 3 miles, 4 miles, 5 miles and within a matter of three months, was able to train 8+ miles without stopping. This all happened slowly, but that's how running works best: slowly adapting to WHAT YOU CAN DO AT THE TIME, not necessarily what your friend is doing or what you think you can do. Running takes discipline, but it shouldn't be "No pain, no gain". If you follow this old cliche, you're not going to like running and you're not going to be able to progress in your training.

Back to my Dad. The marathon relay fell through. My sister, who was going to run one of the legs of the relay came up with the excuse that she was pregnant! Was this timed so that she would not have to run a leg on the relay? The jury is still out on this one Christie! So, my Dad and his wife Suzette, just three months and 20 pounds after running their first 2 mile run, entered the Monumental Challenge 1/2 Marathon, with the goal to run the entire 13.1 mile course!

On the chilly October morning, my Dad and Suzette laced their running shoes, slid into their black Heart of the Hills Running Club shirts and drove to the starting line and a couple of hours later, completed their first 1/2 marathon. My dad ran the entire 13.1 miles without stopping. His last 8 miles were at a faster average pace per mile than what he ran on his first TWO MILE run just three months ago! I was really proud of those two!

That was sort of a long story, but the point is simple: ANYONE can begin a running program. My dad said, "Even simple things like walking up stairs are so much easier when you are in shape."

Some pointers for those just beginning to run:

1. Shoes. There are a zillion different types of shoes meant for all different shapes of feet. Take a trip to the Runner's Shop in Rapid City for good advice and a great fit. These guys will put you on a treadmill and analyze your gait (stride pattern) to find the best shoes for you. I'm a little less technical. I just try on every shoe I can until I find one that "feels right". I like flexible shoes without any special "features".

2. No pain, No Gain (The Myth). Kind of a myth, I guess. When you get months or years into running, there will be days that call for a hard workout to benefit you in a specific race: those days are "hard". When I think of pain, I think of breaking an arm, getting stung by a bee, etc. The majority of training, however, should be easy to comfortably hard. You lose weight and become more fit by the minutes you spend running, not necessarily the "pace". Sure, there are different aspects to training than just easy running, but for the everyday person wanting to complete races, you're going to running pretty comfortable on most days. In fact, for me, the hardest part is just disciplining myself to take that first stride, especially on cold days or when it's dark.

3. Don't compare yourself to other runners. This can be hard to resist, but really, you're trying to improve yourself: change the physiology of YOUR body. Be proud of what you accomplish.

4. Learn about your sport. There are many good resources when it comes to training for distance events. Click on the Training Link on the Home Page for some ideas.

5. Find a group or friend to run with. That's where we (the running club) hopefully come into play. Nothing motivates me more during the week to run than when I know I will be running with my friends on the weekends.