Learn from past training experiences and build an even better New Year
Taking stock in the previous year is useful when planning the next year. Reflecting on your personal and community fitness accomplishments can bring perspective for the New Year.
Like many runners I started out the 2016 year with a meaningful goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon at a race in Cleveland, my birthplace and where the 26.2-mile test was first tackled in 1977. A proven plan was followed: gradually build the endurance, work the hills for strength and dial in race pace runs up to a half marathon, and work longer intervals (anywhere from 1 to 2 miles or 8 to 15 minutes) at 30 seconds to a minute faster than race pace. The focus was there and I even endured a half marathon on the treadmill in two hours.
However, the best laid plans were foiled. Despite the adequate rest and a whole food diet, the race was derailed by adverse weather – snows that arrived on May 15. Still, I adjusted expectations, completed the race, and followed the words from the film “Field of Dreams”: “Go the distance.” Besides in a few months I’d be coaching cross-country and felt compelled to be a good role model.
The second reflection was sharing my knowledge of our sport in the community in three ways. First, I began volunteer hosting a local radio program, “Mid Week Wellness,” an hour of music peppered with fitness tips on station KDLG 670 AM. The concept was to motivate folks to develop a healthy lifestyle. So the magic of music was shared almost every Wednesday night of 2016 at 7 p.m., just another way to share the gospel of running.
The next community activity was to rebuild the local fitness tribe by resurrecting the Rural People in Motion (RPM) fitness group in Dillingham. We organized a monthly event staged at different venues to seasonal themes, Turkey Trot, Jingle Bell Run, etc., where one runs or walks at their own pace up to an hour for free.
Coaching the Dillingham High School Cross Country Team was my favorite running-related activity this year. A “Bucket List” dream of mine, it was exciting sharing our sport with the next generation of runners, boys and girls striving to be their best on the trails, building stamina, discipline, teamwork and sportsmanship that will hopefully carry beyond high school. Each of these community opportunities served as a chance to plant a seed to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.
My final reflection dealt with helping locals fulfill another dream of establishing a trail system in Dillingham. A space dedicated to foot traffic only where everyone could experience the out of doors close to town. The trails can also serve as an excellent venue for educational and cultural activities. The tundra has abundant blueberries and the woods harbor rabbits, moose, woodpeckers and nuthatches as well, along with fitness activities of hiking, cross-country skiing and running. The terrain lacks substantial hills but provides a safe route off the roads on a true cross-country surface. The dream germinated for years, different sites where explored by various folks, but now the non-aeronautical land next to the airport appears to hold promise. The planned trails fits nicely into the Healthy Alaskans goal increasing physical activity as a means to address the obesity and diabetes epidemic in the region. Sometimes all it takes is just one more person asking a few more questions, and all stakeholders to make it happen.
Now what are the projections for 2017? Competition. Yes indeed I’m in a new age group and the Gasperilla Classic beckons with friends forged in the heat of the 1985 Hawaii Ironman. We’re not grumpy old men rather Active members of AARP. My inspiration is to be like Bill Spinder a.k.a. Coach who is running at 83. Now that’s a true champion; he embraced fitness for life.
The radio show hosting stint will continue but I want to polish the program content and playlist. RPM will continue – dates have been selected and more volunteers will be recruited. Cross Country Team development is dependent on whether a school teacher steps forward to assume head-coach duties, as they have priority over community members, which is fine with me. I’m still on board for a successful team and will assist with succession planning/knowledge sharing.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the State of Alaska will have agreed to allow the City of Dillingham to sign a lease to use the non-aeronautical land next to the airport for the trail system and work on the site can commence in the spring. No permanent structures or bridges are permitted just improved footpaths for all to enjoy. These projections or goals are modest improvements to our own human condition in rural Alaska but as the sun tracks across the sky we think of what we can shared with others, how can we make a difference locally? Join your local school’s booster club or contact your community’s Parks and Recreation Department to offer assistance. REI even sponsors a Trails Day. The word of John Denver’s song, “Poems, Prayers, and Promises” rings in my ears moreso now than it did 40 some years ago. Let’s make the most of 2017.
— Keep Striding and Smiling.