Improve health, happiness and have fun by going for a jog
BY EBECCA PALMER
The bombing attacks at the Boston Marathon last month have brought a new focus on the sport of running, but the sport has been growing in popularity since the 70s and 80s.
For Bill Peck of Bountiful, the sport has been part of his life since 1980, he said. The finish line he crossed at the Boston Marathon last month represented his seventy-third completed 26.2-mile race. His other races have included the Wasatch Front 100, which totals 100 miles, and the Squaw Peak race in Provo, which totals 50 miles.
Running for health
Peck started running to lose weight thirty years ago, when he was about 40.
“I was 208 pounds and I thought, I’ve got to do something about this,” he said.
It turns out that Peck was part of a boom in competitive running that took place in the 70s and 80s. The sport initially gained attention with the men’s marathon victory of Frank Shorter, when a German imposter ran into the stadium ahead of him and the dramatic incident was broadcast on national TV.
The boom was also bolstered by celebrities such as U.S. President Jimmy Carter taking up running.
Peck is nearing 70, and plans to keep up running. He will run a 50-mile course for his birthday, he said.
That makes his fiancée Jan Hess very happy, and she has also taken up the sport.
“I go out every morning and run,” he said. “It clears my head out. I’m good for the rest of the day.”
But the benefits are more than just psychological.
“He looks like a 16-year-old in his jeans and T-shirt,” Hess said, referring to his slim but muscular physique.
Peck and Hess are continuing work that Hess’s son Travis did to help poor families afford cancer treatment before he died on April 5 of this year. Their foundation is hesscancer.org. One of their primary goals is to “encourage fitness as a way to fight and prevent cancer,” according to the website.
Running for fun
At the South Davis Recreation Center, many people trying to get in shape or lose weight start with running, said personal trainer Karmel Harper. In fact, the center has a personal trainer who focuses on helping runners.
For an increasing number of people, running is appealing because of fun races such as the Color Me Rad 5K. To fight boredom, Harper recommends going outside.
“(Running) works and it’s boring,” she said. “I think it’s better to go outside and run — have a destination rather than running on a treadmill like a rat.”
One great facet of the sport is that almost anyone can do it, and amateurs can compete right alongside pros.
“You can work up to anything,” Harper said. “Your body’s amazing.”
Running can seem as natural as walking, but the National Institutes of Health and health professionals agree that there’s a wrong way and a right way to do it.
The institute recommends the following:
Rung with your arms and shoulders relaxed — avoid hunching
Bend your elbows
Lean forward slightly while keeping an upright posture
Try for aa smooth stride
Strike the ground with the middle of your foot
Breathe deeply and rhythmically to power oxygen to your muscles
The advice comes from nih.gov.
You can get a free running screen to look at your posture and running technique from PerformanceWest Physical Therapy in the Renaissance Town Center in Bountiful by calling Stuart Soundrup at 801-295-3553.