Around the Island

Column: Planning a safe and successful race day


Walker or runner, the trick for turtles and hares is putting one foot in front of the other until you see the finish line.

At that point, your instincts will be your guide. Although years ago, our Island 5K did make a logistics screwup. The bountiful food that is provided at all our races was improperly located. The grills for hot dogs and hamburgers were on Crescent Beach’s sand.

There were exit steps a short distance before the finish line and some walkers were overcome with temptation. Their times, when they finally returned to the race course, were longer by the time it took to munch down two dogs and a burger. Obviously, serious walkers — a k a Louise Clark — did not break stride.

With the Shelter Island 10K only a month away, here are some practical training tips.

Training is your investment in a positive race. Remember, while walkers are not allowed to run, runners can walk. The hills, heat and humidity are challenging. Don’t be stupid. Respect the course and yourself. There is a quick recovery in a few minutes of walking by lowering your body temperature and heart rate. Walking is not the end. Many runners recover and finish at a respectable time after such a break.

How far to run? Obviously, the more the better. Luck is not significant in our sport. But if you’re running a 5K, I would recommend two or three practice runs of three miles each. Run those practices in the two weeks before the race. Do so as close as you can to the expected race conditions.

That means taking advantage of the actual 5K course (see and do so at the 5:30 p.m. race schedule. Do not under estimate the importance of the weather.

The 10K is 6.2 miles. Again, the more distance training, the better. If you have never run 6 miles, you can still participate. I recommend practice runs of at least 4 or 5 miles. But time duration is more important than how far you run.

You are going to be on the race course for an hour or more. Get used to running at least 40 to   45 minutes. Do so on the 10K course — get to be friends with those hills! — and do so in late afternoon heat.

How many workouts? Try for five per week and set your mileage to be consistent with your goals. For a 10K, your weekly mileage should be at least 15 miles; for the 5K, a minimum of 10 miles. Of course, if your target is only finishing, then you have more flexibility. Just remember do not underestimate the stress of temperature and humidity. The risk of running too fast is huge. The risk of running too slow zero.

Tips for your support group: Recruit 20 to 30 spectators and group them at each mile marker. Have them wear bright T-shirts with your name boldly displayed. Provide each with an obnoxious noise maker. This will force you to finish the race because if you don’t get past all of the group they will immediately call an ambulance.