Times Remembered – State of Mind


So much of our sport is mental. Whether it’s convincing yourself you can finish that long run in your marathon training or doing your best to psyche out a competitor as you pass them in a 5K race; the power of positive thinking cannot be overestimated.

People will often give you a very interesting assortment of answers when you ask them why they run. To stay fit, to lose weight or to increase muscle tone are but a few of the responses you’ll hear. The bottom line, in my book, is that running makes me feel good. When you see the myriad benefits it brings, it’s easy to understand how a person could feel better, both mentally and physically.

One of our best kept secrets in Gulf Winds is a man who understands this point all too well and who spreads the good news of exercise to hundreds of patients that pass through his office. Dr. Karl Hempel has been running for almost 30 years and is a formidable foe when it comes to racing at all distances. If you haven’t checked out his Health Gazette, I urge you to go to his web site http://tfn.net/healthgazette and read about how running can lengthen your life span, lower your blood pressure and improve the overall quality of your life. Ask any patient of Karl’s and they’ll tell you before their office visit is finished, they will have received a handout and a lecture on the benefits of exercise and possibly even told to get back out there and run! Most runners appreciate having a doctor that understands the value of running. The only exception is male runners in Karl’s age group. There’s no telling what sort of advice he would give them!

One concept Karl can really relate to is that of endorphins. You’ve heard people talk about “runner’s high,” right? It is supposedly a state that occurs when a person runs or exercises to such an extent that endorphins are activated. Endorphins are biochemical compounds that are released during moderate and high intensity workouts when muscles use up their stored glycogen and begin functioning with only oxygen. These compounds produce a sense of well being that many of us know and love. Scientists take a variety of stands on this issue and many will argue that this sense of well being is more aligned with the joy of completing a challenge. All I need to know is that Karl believes and has named a succession of boats after the famed endorphin. That works for me!

October brings us many opportunities to chase our own endorphin highs. The temperatures are finally dropping, the weekends are filled with many choices for racing at all distances, and the opportunities to feel good about ourselves and practice that power of positive thinking are too numerous to count. If you’re training for a fall marathon or Iron Man competition, listen for the strains of “Rocky” in the background and know that you can do it! If you’re smart enough to stay on the local circuit and compete at shorter distances, be sure to check out the FSU Cares 5K on October 21st and the Alan Sundberg 5K or the Boston Mini-marathon on October 27th.

One somber thought before I close. By now you’ve probably heard that the Pine Run 20K in Bainbridge, Georgia will not be held this year and is most likely gone for good in the hard scrabble location of the Southlands Experimental Forest we’ve all come to know and love. International Paper, the owners of this operation, have hosted this race and have been saying for years that times are tight and the need to sell the property is very real. This year the blow came and we now must think in terms of preserving the memories of 30 years of running experiences on this challenging yet rewarding course over the hills, through the trees and along the trails. One cannot simply replace this race but we can mourn it’s passing. If you consider yourself one of the Pine Run regulars, keep the morning of October 13th open on your calendar and watch the Gulf Winds web page (www.gulfwinds.org) for details of a Pine Run Remembrance Run. Or maybe it’s a wake. We do know it won’t be a race and you won’t have to drive all the way to Bainbridge. It will be a chance to run, tell stories and relive the memories of one of Gulf Wind’s finest treasures. Stay tuned!