By the Squannacook Runner
Have you checked your weight lately? We hope you've noticed a drop. Just remember, exercise alone won't keep off the pounds. Follow a 5-mile run with half a cheese pizza, a fistful of potato chips, and two cans of grape soda, and you've erased the weight loss benefits of that run. Walking or running a mile burns off about 100 calories, something you can gain back simply by munching on a couple of cookies. So keep up the running and avoid those snacks!
Is it OK to wear headphones while you run? Not really. While music may help you to relax or even to run at a faster pace, running with headphones on isn't a very good idea. In fact, it's sheer lunacy if you're jogging along a roadside -- unless it's your desire to become the hood ornament for somebody's Buick. How about those woodland trails that never see automobile traffic? There was a time when I would have said OK, but recent near-misses with dirt bikes and ATVs have changed my mind. When you run, you need all of your senses to keep out of trouble.
Dog. Man's best friend. Unless you're a runner. How often has a runner's reverie on a beautiful springlike afternoon been shattered by a barking ball of fur and fangs that's making a beeline for said runner's unprotected legs? At best, your concentration is broken, and your pulse, already elevated by exercise, goes off the scales. At worst, you receive a very nasty and painful bite, requiring stitches and (worse yet) a series of rabies shots.
What to do when confronted by a cantankerous canine? You've probably heard that a dog can sense your feelings. If it's fear, the dog will get bolder, more aggressive. If you have a severe case of doggiephobia, I suggest you stop running and walk briskly while giving Fido a wide berth. Dogs are territorial, and most canine encounters end at the property boundary. If a dog ventures out in the road, face it as you continue walking. Don't try to pet the dog. Don't turn away and resume running. The former may be interpreted as a threatening gesture, while the latter will almost certainly be regarded as an attempt to flee. Most times, a dog will either get bored with you and return home or decide you're a pal and run alongside you. When face-to-face with a particularly menacing dog, pick up a stick or rock and hold your ground. Whatever your choice of weapon, don't use it unless you're actually attacked. Remember, your argument is ultimately with a thoughtless owner who lets his dog run loose in violation of local leash laws.
What if Fido hits paydirt and trots away with a chunk of your leg? Beyond the obvious need for medical attention, seek out the owner. Tell him or her what happened and ask if the dog has received proper immunizations. Don't get into a confrontation. One owner may be apologetic, another will insist that his adorable pooch was just playing -- even when the mutt drops your severed hand at his feet. Most communities have stringent leash laws, and you're well within your rights to notify the police and seek legal action to defray medical costs.
Have you scrubbed a run because you got home late and it was already dark outside? You really didn't have to. A night run can be a very pleasant experience, especially on a mild springlike evening. In the heat of summer, an evening run might be your only option. Follow these common-sense rules: Don't run along major roads. Wear a highly reflective vest or running suit (or place bands of reflective tape on your sweats). Carry a small flashlight to illuminate the way when needed. If it's cold, avoid areas that were damp during the day; they may be sheer ice at night. For your personal safety, run with a partner. A great time for a night run is around the time of a full moon, when the roads and surrounding countryside are bathed in moonlight. The moon, skimming along the treetops as you run, is a beautiful sight!
Week 5 training schedule
GOAL FOR THE WEEK: To run 4 miles nonstop.
Sunday: Ten-minute out-and-back run. Run for 10 minutes at a brisk pace, then turn and retrace your path home. Can you arrive back faster than your original 10 minutes?
Monday: Two-mile relaxed jog. Select the same 2-mile course you used for your time trial last week.
Tuesday: Two-mile timed run. Can you improve on last week's effort?
Wednesday: Today is a rest day, or make-up day, if you missed one of the above work-outs.
Thursday: Relaxed 15-minute jog.
Friday: Four-mile jog. This is a milestone run, but by now you should have developed the confidence to go the distance with little or no trouble. Why run this far when the 5K race is nearly a mile shorter? Simple. Training at a longer distance than the race you plan to run (a technique called "over-distance") makes the actual race seem a lot easier. We'll be doing more over- distance in the weeks ahead. Today's 4-miler gives you a grand total of about 12 miles for the week.
Saturday: Rest day.
NEXT WEEK: "Mind games," and our first 5-mile run!