Coach Mike Mead

May 2008

The Moderate Details to Running

Are you a runner who pays attention to details? If not, then this one is for you. As a collegiate coach, I am frequently reminding my athletes – actually it is more like preaching to a snoozing congregation – about the importance to tending to details.

You might think there are not a whole lot of details in regards to running. You – just – go – out – and – run. But au contraire! As a very young runner, I seldom stretched, ate whatever I wanted and did not get enough sleep each night. But as I got a little more experience in my final year of high school running, I slowly began to wise up and began paying attention to details.

I first got more rest. By the time I went off to college, I was typically going to bed by 10:30 p.m. since I was getting up at 6:30 a.m. to do a morning run. I also practiced getting a little extra sleep on Thursday nights before racing on a Saturday. One of my coaches said it was important to get a good night’s rest the night before the night before a race. I swear by it since I got very little sleep the night before a big track meet – I was trying to qualify for nationals in the season’s final meet – worrying about the race. Because I had slept well on Thursday, I ran the time I needed to make my first trip to a college national meet.

When I got into college, I also began to spend time stretching. I have never been a big advocate of stretching before running, but definitely afterwards. I have never been satisfied with my stretching, but what I have done has kept me relatively injury-free for 35 years. These days I do not get enough stretching because of my busy schedule and stretching gets less attention. But all runners, young and old, need to develop a daily stretching and flexibility routine after training. In the last couple of years, I’ve added a weekly massage to work out the kinks and get me in, at least, one good stretch.

Diet is another important detail. When I was a kid, I eat pretty well, but I also ate too many sweets and fats. Hey, I was running and needed all the calories I could get. I wouldn’t be surprised that the reason I bonked in key races may have been related to my diet.

The first thing I did was cut out added salt. To this day, I don’t know if we own a salt shaker at home! Next I cut out sodas from my diet. I still drink them, but instead of a liter a day, I’m done to maybe a liter a month. Then it was cutting back on red meats and all the other assorted foods that can be harmful.

In the end, it is all about moderation. Not just with food, but with everything associated in one’s life. Most pedestrians (non-runners) do not practice moderation and make fun of us “running fools.” Well, I’m now 50 and not having to take medicines for blood pressure or high cholesterol because I try to live a moderate, guilt-free life. I feel just as good as I did when I was 30. Extremes will eventually do folks in. Heck, life is tough enough with aging so that is why I continue to run in order to enjoy the years I have remaining. It is all about the details. Pay attention!