Local runners talk about motivation, advice
Running in Baldwin City has increased in popularity during the past several years and everyone has his or her own reason for getting into the sport.
Some took up running in high school or college and have continued staying fit since those younger days. Others may have begun when Bulldog Days was becoming popular during the past few summers, while still others have started using running as a method of escaping the everyday grind of work or simply to stay healthy. Each person has his or her own tale about how they got started.
“It went from competition in college to where I am right now, which is my well-being and health,” said Angie Spielman, Baldwin City resident who ran competitively for the University of Kansas in the 1980s. “It’s the biggest reason I keep running. Also, I enjoy it. I’m kind of a more sporadic runner than most, because I don’t like to get out much during the winter months. The older you get, the harder it is, but you know that you’re doing something good for your body.”
Besides using running as a method of staying healthy, Spielman also uses it as a chance to release some stress. She enjoys her time out on the roads, even if she is all alone.
“It’s a good stress reliever, too,” she said. “It helps you get away from the everyday grind of work. You can go out, run some miles and forget about the day you had or what’s going on in your life.”
Other local residents use running as a method for losing weight or keeping in shape, especially after their time in their desired sport has passed. Since taking up running a few years ago, Kit Harris has learned to love the sport and the freedom that comes with it.
“Sarah (his wife) and I would run off and on together as something fun to do,” Harris said. “I’m too old to wrestle, so this was something I could do as I become an old man. It’s a good way to stay fit. Sometimes Sarah and I get a chance to go out, run and just chat. We don’t always get to do that with the kids around.”
One aspect of running he’s figured out is that time or speed doesn’t matter, even if you run alone or race competitively.
“The great thing about running is it doesn’t matter how fast you are,” Harris said. “You can set whatever goal you want to set, whether it’s a distance or a time. You can be any age and strive for that goal. It’s good for your cardio and to burn some calories. It’s also a fun social thing, too. There are a lot of people in Baldwin that we see at races. So there are a lot of benefits.”
As an experienced runner, Spielman offered many other benefits to running, especially when compared to other sports. Although running is something she’s known for a long time, she said anyone can get started and the benefits are well worth it in the end.
“Also, injuries in running are fairly uncommon compared to other sports like football or basketball,” Spielman said. “The older you get, the harder it gets to play other sports, but you can always run. You can also do it on your own and go out at any time, whatever fits your schedule. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive. All you need is a pair of running shoes and those can last you for a long time.”
Baldwin City resident Richard Ebel was one who enjoyed running and racing, but wanted a bigger challenge many years ago. Like many veteran runners, he took on the challenge of a marathon.
“I guess it was the challenge of completing one,” Ebel said. “I just wanted to try and complete it. I was road racing all of the time, but I never had great speed. I moved up from a 5K to a 10K to a half marathon. I thought you don’t have to be fast to run a marathon.”
Most runners that have trained for months or years at a time have advice to offer for anyone considering running as a hobby. Spielman and Harris, who come from different ends of the running spectrum, offered their advice to others.
“You have to put the work in and you have to build yourself up to those longer runs,” Spielman said. “You also need to really find what your pace is. If you have a heart monitor, it can really help you in your training. That helps you maintain a speed for a longer distance. You can’t just jump into that pace.”
Harris, who has dealt with several injuries during the last couple of years, gave advice on avoiding possible injuries.
“It doesn’t matter how far or how fast,” Harris said. “You can start wherever and build from there. Then I’d also say listen to your body with aches and pains. Don’t ignore them, because injuries can force you to sit out longer.”
Spielman agreed, saying that your body doesn’t recover as fast as it was once was able to when younger.
“The older you get, the more your body will talk to you,” Spielman said. “You don’t recover as quickly and your body will be sore the next day. When you’re younger, you can recover a lot quicker.”