'Run like someone's chasing you'
The Red Cross' inaugural "Run for the Red" in Valle Crucis may be months away, but if you want to live through it, it's time to hit the track.
Just ask organizer, Red Cross board member and personal trainer Michael Darling.
2010 could be the year that you not only run a marathon, but drop those extra pounds and strengthen your core.
A marathon will work to your benefit if you're trying to get into a workout routine.
"Having a goal, it keeps you motivated," Darling said.
And running is a great way to lose weight without the cost of a gym membership.
"Weight loss would be huge if you're training for a marathon," Darling said.
This particular marathon rivals the Grandfather Mountain marathon in terms of difficulty, but don't stop reading yet.
Run for the Red is offering a 13.1-mile half-marathon, perfect for the first-timer.
"The half is going to be really flat," he said.
The full inaugural "Run for the Red" is a difficult course, taking runners past Valle Crucis Elementary School and up highway N.C. 194 toward Banner Elk. From there, the 26.2-mile course takes runners up Pigeon Roost Road, Lee Gwaltney Road, Laurel Creek Road, Rominger Road, Watauga River Road, Bairds Creek Road, Dewitt Barnett Road and Broadstone Road. It sounds scary, but it's manageable, if you train early.
"It's brutal. Anybody looking for a challenge, they're going to be interested," he said.
By training early, he means now, and whether you're training for the half or full marathon, it's time to hit the pavement..
So, load up those tennis shoes and hit the greenway, because a breezy Boone summer is on the horizon.
"It's about slow progression," he said.
Start simple by running three days a week.
"When they're first starting, I would start with a mile to two miles," he said. "You can start with even less. You might have to walk for a couple of minutes and then run. I talked to somebody today that trains a whole lot and says he still does that, you burn the same number of calories whether you run a mile or walk a mile."
He splits the training into three different running days, a tempo run, a speed run and a long distance run.
"You're trying to gradually increase that long distance run every week. You build it up for three weeks, and the fourth week is a 'de-load' week, where you back off, give yourself a chance to recover," he said.
The best way to train is by running outside, preferably on the surface you'll be competing on.
He also recommends cross training, employing an elliptical machine or swimming to change up the workout.
When you increase your long run, that's where it's time to get really serious.
"When you're running for more than an hour, it's a good idea to make sure that you're intaking fluids and getting used to gel packs," he said.
Gel packs are what marathon runners eat to maintain strength during a race.
"Experiment ... that way you're prepared on race day," he said.
It sounds intimidating, but it doesn't have to be.
Just develop a routine, stick with it, and don't be afraid to walk some on race day.
"It's your first race. You won't be the only one walking," Darling said.
As far as diet, when you're in the running groove, increase your carbohydrate intake.
"Carbs are a main source of fuel ... also slightly increase the protein intake because protein helps with recovery," he said. "If you're looking at losing weight, then you want to make sure you're not intaking more calories than you're burning."
Run for the Red happens at 7 a.m. on Sept. 18 and benefits the American Red Cross. For more information, check out http://www.runforthered.org.