A little more than 24 hours before runners and walkers begin the 39th Annual Shelter Island 10K Run/5K Walk, two former Olympians, an author and coach and one of his trainees discussed training techniques and ways to get and stay healthy with Dr. Frank Adipietro on WLNG Friday afternoon.
Ignoring cool breezes and occasional rain, Dr. Adipietro peppered his guests with questions. He was joined by Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles; Bill Rodgers, who was a runner in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and won four New York and four Boston marathons; Owen Anderson, author and running coach; and Linus Kiplagat, who at 23 is posting wins in 5K , 7K and 10K races and a half marathon as he thinks about eventually tackling a full marathon course.
“I love what I do,” Ms. Benoit Samuelson told the listening audience. “Coming back to Shelter Island is like coming home,” she said.
What’s special about running, she added, is that it’s all inclusive — a sport for people of all ages and varying abilities.
Ms. Benoit Samuelson and Boston Billy, as Dr. Adipietro referred to Mr. Rodgers, have returned to Shelter Island to run the course for many years.
Ms. Benoit Samuelson has been humbled in the past year by knee problems and while that’s healed, she is currently nursing an Achilles injury, but plans to run “a pace race” tomorrow, icing her foot in advance.
She told Shelter Island High School cross country team runners that trying to gain acceptance as a runner when she first started in the sport was difficult.
It took awhile to gain confidence to run in public, she said.
“But you just take it one step at a time,” she said. She worked her way up slowly increasing distances in her preparation.
“Only you know how you’re feeling and how you’re recovering,” she said.
Recovery, Mr. Anderson said, is as important as any other part of training. He encourages the runners he coaches to take time between running and take a day off completely.
Earlier this month, Mr. Kiplagat, who holds dual citizenships in Kenya and Bahrain, won a 10K in Middletown, New York, so he could be one to keep your eyes on Saturday. This week’s race could put him in a good position to go on to Boston’s 10K next weekend.
While some run all out and don’t think about form, Mr. Anderson advises, “A quality mile is much better for you than five distance miles.” Running all out and landing step after step on the heel first is not good, he added.
With the athletes he trains, he emphasizes good form, strength, balance and cross training. Using an exercise bicycle between running can help improve strength while avoiding injuries, he said.
Intellectually, Ms. Benoit Samuelson said she knows that quality is important, but admitted that she likes to go all out, keeping pace with the time she has set for herself in any given race.
She said she loves to train and hopes her preparation will carry her to the finish line “in the time that makes me happy.”
That’s no longer the time she posted in Los Angeles of 2:31.04, but each year, she has set new goals for herself.
Because of the knee problems earlier this year and the Achilles injury now, she said she’s concentrating on being healthy in the year ahead.
Mr. Rodgers said he continues to run, but still reminds himself of his own words spoken long ago: “The Marathon can humble you.”
For Mr. Kiplagat, getting advice from the two Olympians is what he hopes will propel him to successful marathon running in the future.
Mr. Anderson pointed out that while you can help a runner develop a program that will improve his or her performance and be best for the body, it’s not always easy to get the runner to adapt.
Dr. Adipietro noted that this year, Joey’s Mile — celebrating the life of First Lieutenant Joseph Theinert who died in Afghanistan — will be festooned with 6,950 American flags honoring the troops who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The idea to honor him was Race Director Mary Ellen Adipietro’s, Dr. Adipietro said. Joey Theinert and other members of the Theinert family had been race volunteers, she said.
“It’s an awe inspiring thing to run that mile,” Dr. Adipietro said.
“It’s a very meaningful way to respect Joey” and all the troops who have given the ultimate sacrifice in war, Ms. Benoit Samuelson said.
While coordinating today’s race, Ms. Adipietro is already thinking about next year’s 40th annual Shelter Island race and her 20th year as race director. She’s hoping others will share ideas with her about how to mark that occasion next June.
How do the runners keep going?
Ms. Benoit Samuelson summed it up: “If you’re passionate about something, you have the fire and the fire burns brightly.”
Race time is 5:30 p.m. today for the 10K and 5:50 for the 5K. Registration is to run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Those who fail to register in time at Shelter Island School can still participate, but won’t have the timing of their races.