Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

I Am A Runner

Hannah at a Cross Country Meet in Fall 2010

Yesterday morning, I ran 4 miles on the Perkiomen Trail.  There wasn’t anything majorly significant about this early morning run.  I didn’t feel real fast; in fact, I felt kind of slow as I plodded along.

It was amusing to me that someone from my company called me yesterday afternoon to seek advice about running this year’s Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (it used to be called the Philadelphia Distance Run).  It just makes me laugh that people would look to me for advice about running.  I have run this race four or five times, but’s it’s been several years since I last ran it.  I’ve completed two marathons, and two or three Broad Street 10 Milers.  I can’t tell you how many 5Ks that I’ve run over the years.  Nonetheless, I don’t consider myself an expert.  I’m slow and bigger than most long distance runners (that’s a nice way to say that I carry a little more weight than most if not all decent distance runners).

So what did I tell him?

1)  Get into a training program.  Whether it’s a runner’s group at the YMCA or like Team in Training or it’s simply an on-line or written plan like one from Hal Higdon, I think these programs can help keep one focused on doing the right mileage and exercise and rest to prepare for a longer race.  I used a modified Hal Higdon plan when I prepared for both of my marathons.  As a numbers guy, I created spreadsheets to help track by progress through my training.  I tracked distance and time, and I tracked details about each of my runs and workouts about how I felt, where I ran, and what the weather was like.  It was amazing to watch my mileage build up from week to week.

2)  Get some accountability through a runner’s group or a friend who’s at your level.  I found a friend to train with for many of my shorter runs, and I asked several people to ride their bike alongside me for a few of my longer runs.  They carried my water and gel packs, but they also provided conversation to distract me when the mileage was getting the best of me.

3)  Cross train and rest.  These are important to build your strength and cardio capacity without overdoing it.  I liked to ride my bike as one of my cross training activities, and I would recommend swimming and lifting as great cross training activities.  I looked forward to my scheduled rest days.  These gave me a chance to recharge.  These are just as important as the exercise days.

4)  Practice hydration and fueling on your longer runs.  I ran with a belt with four water bottles.  I filled one or two of the bottles with an energy drink like Accelerade.  Practicing eating a gel shot or energy bar in the middle of your longer runs.  Find out what works for you and your stomach.  I learned that certain gel packs don’t work with my stomach.  It’s best to learn this lesson while training and not during your race.

5)  Set goals.  A first goal would be to make it through your training and to the starting line of the race.  Next, your goal should be to finish the race.  Then, you can start adding time related goals – overall finish time, negative splits, etc.  Finally, you might want to add a stretch goal that you can go after if you’re really feeling good.

6)  Have fun.  The running community is great – before, during, and after the race.  Talk to other runners.  Find out what works for them.  Ask them about their favorite races.  Cherish each moment.

For not being a running expert, I guess I have a lot to say.

Are you a runner?  What tips would you add to this list?


June 29, 2011 - Posted by | exercise, running, sports


  1. I am also a runner! I used to hate running when I was younger, now I find so much enjoyment from it. I used to put way too much pressure on myself and it wasn’t fun. Now, I don’t care how slow I am…the key is to just run. I ran my first 1/2 marathon in April. I loved it!! Great tips

    Comment by eileen | June 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Eileen, Thanks for the comment and the follow. I just went over to your blog, and you have a new follower.

      Running has done a lot to keep my stress at an even level. I’m not a speed demon, but I’ve been learning that this isn’t all that important. Congrats on your first half. Now, the full marathon…?

      Comment by jonstolpe | June 29, 2011 | Reply

      • I am also a runner! I used to hate running when I was younger, now I find so much enjoyment from it. I used to put way too much pressure on myself and it wasn’t fun. Now, I don’t care how slow I am…the key is to just run. I ran my first 1/2 marathon in April. I loved it!! Great tips

        Hey, thanks for following! Not sure I’ll ever do the full. My brother just finished his second full marathon, and loves it. I would definitely be up for another 1/2…not sure my knees can handle a full 🙂

        Comment by eileen | June 30, 2011 | Reply

  2. I just started running. I am going to run a 5k soon and build up to some bigger races.

    Comment by adam | June 29, 2011 | Reply

    • I love the fact that running is almost universal. You can be short, tall, fat, skinny, slow, or fast. Let me know how the 5K works out and where it goes from there.

      Comment by jonstolpe | June 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. Jon,
    I always enjoy your posts. I like to run 2-3 days a week, although I don’t consider myself a serious runner. My wife and I did run a 5k back in early May so we were proud of that. It is a great sense of accomplishment to run a race.

    It seems a little daunting to run a half-marathon. I think it’s more mental than physical!

    Comment by Jason Fountain | June 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Jason, Thanks for the kind words. I agree that the longer races can seem daunting, but I can tell you from experience that you can do it. It’s one of those things that teaches you about yourself. I’m so glad I did these longer races. Go for it!

      Comment by jonstolpe | June 29, 2011 | Reply

  4. I have just started running, and i’m sure some of these tips will help me. Thank you!

    Comment by Lewis Heap | June 30, 2011 | Reply

    • No problem, Lewis. Good luck in your running endeavors. I like the fact that you are blogging about your new ‘hobby’.

      Comment by jonstolpe | June 30, 2011 | Reply

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