By GERRY STEELE
Baker City Herald
Running, particularly the long distance variety, is a good way to keep in shape and let off steam at the same time.
Cameron McAlister, a cross country runner on the Baker High School team, started running because it was easier for him than trying to compete in team sports.
andquot;The benefits of running are that you get a good workout, and you feel like you've accomplished something,andquot; McAlister explains.
andquot;There are some good social aspects you can get in shape and you can lose weight.andquot;
And running is one sport competitors can continue their entire life.
andquot;Anyone can do it and you can go at your own pace,andquot; McAlister says.
He also enjoys running because it is an individual, rather than team, sport.
andquot;That's why I do it,andquot; he says. andquot;You don't have to rely on someone else.andquot;
McAlister got started running because his stepfather runs and one of his best friends, Erik Robertson, runs on the BHS team.
andquot;Erik was going to do it and I decided to run with him,andquot; McAlister says. andquot;And, I wanted to run cross country. That's why I did even though I had never run before.andquot;
McAlister likes distance running better than sprints.
andquot;I think I'm better at distance running, and it's easier,andquot; he says.
Another reason he likes distance running is because it suits his slender build.
andquot;It's how my body's built,andquot; he says. andquot;When I was little I tried to play basketball, soccer and track, and I've always swam. Swimming and running are easier for me, and I like the endurance stuff.
andquot;All my sports are cardio sports,andquot; McAlister adds. andquot;The running got my legs strong for swimming. And swimming keeps me in shape for running.andquot;
But it's not just about physical fitness McAlister says distance running also gives him time to ponder things.
andquot;While I'm running I can sort of daydream or think about what I'm doing that day,andquot; he says.
The basics of running
The best way to gain the most from running is to prepare yourself the proper way, says Suzy Cole, BHS cross country and track coach.
andquot;From a health standpoint you need to work on your endurance; the full body work,andquot; she says.
andquot;A lot of people think it's just the legs, but the upper body has to be just as strong.andquot;
Cole agrees that the mental side of running is just as important as the physical side.
andquot;Mentally, running allows you to think, relax and have kind of a quiet time. Everybody needs that,andquot; she says.
andquot;Two, you have a lot of self-talk. You have to be very encouraging to yourself,andquot; she emphasis.
andquot;You learn a lot of self-discipline. I think a lot of people grow in their ability to believe in themselves by running.
andquot;It's up to you to put your mind in a set that 'I can do this.' That kind of thinking spills over into everything we do in life,andquot; she says.
Cole says the social side of running also can be a challenge.
andquot;You have to be a unique individual to handle distance running,andquot; she says. andquot;You can build some strong bonds with other people who run.
andquot;You have to build a positive personality. And, you typically hang out with others who enjoy the same things.andquot;
Cole uses a specific plan for her high school runners, and that plan can work for lay runners as well.
andquot;When I work with runners the first goal is to go 30 minutes without stopping, at whatever pace you choose. You try to build that base foundation,andquot; she says.
andquot;Then you figure out what your overall goal is. The best way once you've decided that is to alternate hard days and easy days.andquot;
A typical andquot;hard dayandquot; may include sprints and running hills. An andquot;easy dayandquot; might include a slower pace and easier course.
andquot;You have to let your body recover,andquot; Cole says.
Where you run also can be a key factor.
andquot;There are lots of beautiful places to run in and around Baker,andquot; Cole says.
She noted the area around Elk Creek, Pocahontas Road, and the Leo Adler pathway as examples.