If you were the first male back-to-back winner of the Marine Corps Marathon (1988 & 1989) and the oldest man ever to win the JFK 50-Miler, a nationally known runner and local legend, a MCM and a DC Roadrunners Club Hall-of-Famer, a Washington Post columnist and an incipient father, what would you talk about to new runners? Perhaps continuity. (Below: Jim Hage speaks. Just try running away from this guy!)
Jim Hage, having achieved all of the above accomplishments and more, spoke about continuity when he addressed the assembled participants and guests of the Reebok Training Program for the SunTrust National Marathon and Half Marathon and the DCRRC 10K Group Training Program last Saturday at Fletchers Boathouse in DC. His radiant wife Susan, former DCRRC president and currently with twins aborning, stood off to one side chatting with current DCRRC president Ed Grant. The assembled athletes, just back from their respective Saturday long runs of distances ranging from four miles for the 10K Group, to ten miles for guests like Not Born To Run, to fifteen miles for the marathoners, listened rapt to the presentation, hoping to pick up an answer to the question of how to ensure meeting their objectives in their upcoming races. For the Reebok program trainees, it was two weeks before the National Marathon weekend. The 10K Group participants had two months to go before their target race of the venerable Capitol Hill Classic 10K, with its renowned namesake hill featuring a "gut-check climb" in the sixth mile. (Below: Susan Hage is flanked by Karol, the 2007 DCRRC Volunteer of the Year and Kristin, presented the DCRRC Volunteer of the Year award in 2006.)
The answer is there are no pat answers in running and training for races, Jim said. Only approaches, and application. Speak to veteran runners, listen, and apply what works for you to be successful, he suggested. Then, to become the best, you must do it diligently and well, be confident, and then do even more of it.
Although a double winner of the MCM, he actually was only half successful, he pointed out. He ran four MCM races, expecting to win them all. Twice he finished third, being in the mix until the end when he faded. Reassessing, he took some time off and came back with a vengeance. He bumped up his training from 70 miles a week to over a hundred, and won. The next year he trained even harder, and won again. In four marathons, he led in the races for maybe a mile and a half total. But he led at the most important point in two of those, at the finish line. This was his zone of focus, he said. Always there near the lead pack, hanging back and constantly assessing throughout the races, he had the fortitude after twin failures to redouble his efforts at training and win twice.
But more importantly, even participating in the endeavor spoke about lifestyle choices runners make, he said. Looking at the assembled athletes, mostly committed and fit enough persons of varying ages, he spoke of the importance of continuing on with their lifestyle choice even past the attainment of their next objective two weeks or two months hence. Eliminate the yo-yo effect of losing such hard-won conditioning by sinking into inactivity once the objective is achieved and the race is run. Avoid having to start all over again when the next season looms. When the next race is over, take a day off. (But not two.) Then go out for a loosening up jog. Then take a longer run. Get back into training, perhaps not as intensively and intently, but don't stop training altogether, as is so common. Put a summertime race on the calendar even now, he urged.
On technical matters, Jim stressed the importance of sustenance during races. Two letters are key, he said. G-U. Take them early and often during a race. Energy during a race is very important, it keeps you thinking more clearly and maintaining focus while your body draws down its readily accessible energy in the form of stored glycogen. Replenish it with frequent energy gels before your body starts depleting more inaccessible energy stored in muscle, which breaks down the body by withdrawing this energy source. The result is the effect of hitting the infamous wall. (Above: Past, present and future. Susan Hage, past president, deep in discussion with Ed Grant, current president of DCRRC.)
The presentation was free. Nationally famous local runner Jim Hage gives back, as do so many so often in the running community.