Organizing a 5k

running is my passion

I’m putting together a 5k and 10k event for the Volunteers of America to support the opening of their new Homeless Youth Shelter. The shelter will provide youth, ages 15-22, who are homeless with a place to find services such as mental health, education, employment, substance abuse, legal assistance, and a warm bed and shower.

The race will be in June and the shelter will open in the fall 2015. While I ran the Anti- bullying 5k over the weekend, I took notes in my little brain because my race will draw a similar crowd of people and will be on a paved trail about the same width of the trail used on Saturday. It was interesting to see the race both as a runner/participate and as a race director.

5k races for charity draw a diverse crowd, kids of all ages and adults who get out there because they feel strongly about the issue, but have never run a step in their adult life. Many of the adults walked most of the course and I can’t help but hope that this race will put their fitness and health front and center, and call them to action for themselves as much as they are called to action for the issue that has them out there.

It was really amazing to watch all the runners come across the finish line red faced coated in sweat. Some were smiling and laughing, while others were just searching for a place to sit down. Usually, I’m so beat after a race that my primary objective is to find the nearest food and bed. If you ever forget or question why you run, stand at the finish line of a race, and watch the joy of accomplishment shine on all the faces.

I’ve had to learn a lot about how races are organized and what goes into putting one on. It’s a lot of work if anyone is wondering. You have to get a permit from the city or county. Set up websites for registration, organize volunteers, get liability insurance, meet with police, barricade companies, and parks and recreation departments. Makes your head spin.

One of the things I took away from the 5k is that at the beginning of my event, I’ll ask slower runners and walkers to position themselves at the back of the starting crowd and to keep to the far right when walking or slowing down. This will allow faster runners to pass on the left and not run into the back of them or have to jump off the side of the trail into sticks and mud.

Is there anything you guys hate or love about events you have run?

Formless Running

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Running form, what’s the big deal? I can put one foot in front of the other just fine, thank you very much. I’ve been doing it a long time now.

Maybe you are one of the few people who were born with perfect running form, or maybe you are happy with the low miles you run and can’t imagine running more than ten miles a week. If this is you, then read some of my archives.

If you want to improve your running efficiency and decrease the probability of injuries keep reading.

Most of us grew up wearing thick-soled shoes, which have stunted our potential when it comes to developing a solid graceful running form. There are those that heel strike, hunch their shoulders, and cross over their midline with their arms as they run and these things cause problems as you continue on your running journey and increase miles.

But fear not, there are some simple things you can do that don’t take a lot of time which will help you develop that solid graceful running form that will take you to the finish line.

Let’s start with the easiest. First, while you are running imagine a string pulling you from the center of your chest toward the moon or sun if you prefer. This will keep you tall with your shoulders back a bit, and cause you to land on your mid-foot to forefoot rather than on your heel.

The next thing is to watch the amount of cross over that happens with your arms. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle at the elbow with loose hands and relaxed shoulders. Your wrist should come back to your hip/waist on the back swing, and your elbow should come past your rib cage on the front swing. Your arms should swing back and forth in a straight line, do not cross the midline. If you are crossing over, you throw your hips off which trickles down to your, ITBand, knees, and ankles.

Hip and core strength are essential elements in staying injury free and having good form while running. Your hips are a part of your core, but I talk about them separately so you don’t leave them out. I have core/ab and hip strength workouts on my pages. Recent research on some of the most common running injuries, shin splints, ITBand syndrome, and runner’s knee, are showing that weak hips are a major contributing factor. If you think about it, it makes sense. As we run, we move our arms and legs opposite of each other and cause a twisting in the hips/core muscles. If the core is not stable it recruits other muscles to do its job, or it just tweaks muscles in ways they are not meant to be tweaked.

The other recommendation I give for developing good form is to work on proprioception. Proprioception is your minds awareness of where the body is in space.  There are two easy quick exercises, which will increase your proprioception. First, is balancing on one leg. Once you can do it for one minute without much difficulty, close your eyes. You can then change the surface to a pillow and then a balance board.  The other one is writing the ABC’s in the air with one foot while standing on the other. Again, once you are good at a flat hard surface change to a pillow and then a balance board.

A solid form is critical to finishing strong and preventing injuries, if your form is flimsy and weak, your body is forced to rely on smaller and weaker muscles at the end of a race causing them to get injured and causing you to be less efficient. Efficient running translates into maintaining energy throughout the race.

What makes a runner?

Runner

I’m not a runner, I just jog a little here and there.

I run sometimes, but I’m not a runner.

I’m too slow to be a runner.

I don’t go far enough to be considered a runner.

I’m not a runner, I only run a few days a week.

I run, but I’m not a runner.

Being a runner is a state of mind, not running a certain pace or distance. If you put one foot in front of another, faster than you walk, on a regular basis, when you are not being chased, are not chasing, or late for something, you are a runner.

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Pace doesn’t have much to do with running. I’ve seen runners who do a 18 minute mile and I’ve seen runners who do a 5 minute mile. It’s not the pace that makes them a runner. It’s their mind.

Distance doesn’t have much to do with running either. I’ve seen runners who do 400 meters and I’ve seen runners who do 100 miles. It’s not the distance that makes them a runner. It’s their mind.

Diet definitely does not make a runner.

Any runner, is doing more than the person sitting on the couch. About 10% of the United States population considers themselves runners. It is difficult to measure because people define “being a runner” in different ways.

Once you say you’re a runner, other people expect you to run. They invite you to do events, to run with them, or ask about your races and, god forbid, your times! It’s hard at first, I get it, when you first start running with others it’s intimidating. It can be intimidating for experienced runners when they run with others who they know are faster than them.

You don’t have to run with other people, if you choose to, you will meet accepting and supportive people. They want to help, share their experiences, and information. It’s best to pick another runner who is a little faster than you to challenge yourself.

You don’t have to participate in events to be a runner. But events can be fun. You don’t have to win or set any goal other than to finish. The goal of finish is the best goal to start with. Who cares what your times are, you’re not competing with anyone, but yourself, which makes you a winner every time.

Why call yourself a runner? Because once you do, you are more likely to keep doing it. You’re committed. And that’s when the benefits become a reality.

Embrace the label. Say it aloud. I am a runner. Announce it to the world, I AM A RUNNER!

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