See you at the races!

by Maj. Ryan Coyne
Contributing writer

Every running enthusiast has a specific regimen for becoming a better runner. “Better” for some runners might be a faster 5 or 10K while others might equate improved running to logging more miles in a training week.

For some, consistent running dates back to high school track, occasionally transitioning to college if fast enough. I can remember my running coaches constantly discussing the virtues of interval training, tempo runs and the very important long slow run. They were all right; all these training protocols can vastly improve your running.

Most of the top U.S. runners like Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall probably include this type of training diversity into their intense regimens. Obviously the difference between them and the majority of us is they get paid to run and win; it’s their job. Anytime we try to get too deep into the science of running its starts to be work, then it ceases to be fun, leading the recreational runner to seek out reasons not to run.

What makes a recreational runner a consistently better runner is competition. Whether you aspire to win the local races, you’re a mid-packer, or you’re just beginning to exercise, running with peers helps make you accountable to your inner athlete.

Lt. Col. Patrick Kennerly, the 86th Logistics Readiness Group deputy recently said it best: “I’m the fastest guy in my neighborhood (at) 4:30 in the morning. There is nobody else out running.”

Conversely, some of us have been participating in the Ramstein cross-country season and although the courses have been varied, many participants are enjoying times much faster than in their training. Unlike the local host-nation running scene, the entire race is made up of our military peers. Bragging rights are at stake. This winning combination makes as all want to run a little faster.            
Cross-country isn’t the only opportunity to race, however. Earlier this month I participated in the TSG Kaiserslautern/Der Laufladen Half Marathon. I had suggested this race in the March review so I didn’t want to miss it. Since it was a local race it was good to see a few familiar faces from the KMC.

If you ran it I’m sure you’ll agree it was an excellent event. The atmosphere, venue, course support and weather were unmatched. There were probably a few personal bests achieved during this race due to the mostly downhill course. My compliments to the race director for an A+ event. It will definitely be on my race calendar for next year.

May is quickly tracking to be an even better month for local racing. Although early in the season, the following race suggestions might just be the competition you need to tick a few seconds off your distance of choice. Starting this weekend, I suggest checking out the Globus-St. Wendel Half and Full Marathon at 11 a.m. It’s advertised as a flat and fast course through the city and is only located about 45 kilometers west of Ramstein.

If this event is a little more than you want to tackle you can wait a couple of weeks, try your luck at the Univillawaldlauf (UVL) 13K May 21 in Kaiserslautern. This slightly sloping downhill race will start at 3 p.m. and take runners through the Palatinate Forest.

Finally, May will come to a close with another popular local race: the Rheinpfalz Firmenlauf 5K, also in Kaiserslautern. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. May 26, and if last year’s participation numbers are any indication, you could be racing with more than 7,000 other runners.

More information on all of the above races can be easily accessed online. The St. Wendel and Rheinpfalz races have English versions of their websites for ease of research.

The subtle benefits of racing cannot be discounted; a slight nod, encouraging word, or maybe the slight pressure of being overtaken by a fellow competitor is all that is needed to push your potential to a level not realized during training.

See you at the races.