Hit the ground running!
Presenting 8 great reasons to run on the Cape and Islands
There are many types of runners: weekend warriors, marathon milers, casual joggers, and lightning-fast sprinters, to name a few. Running is an activity one can take on as an individual or in a group, and along the winding roads of Cape Cod or on the treadmill at the gym. This inherent versatility may be the sport’s biggest selling point.
“Running is something you can do at 5 years old or 105 years old,” says Dave Corbett, an avid runner from East Falmouth who shares his passion for the activity daily as the manager of Marathon Sports in Mashpee Commons. “There’s no sort of membership card,” he adds. “You can do it as long as you’d like to, and it doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow, the important part is to just get out there.”
In August and September there are a number of road races taking place across the Cape and Islands, from the heralded New Balance Falmouth Road Race on August 21, to the zany Insane Inflatable 5K in Brewster on August 13. In preparation for these and other running-related events, Cape Cod LIFE spoke with Corbett and two other enthusiastic runners to learn the reasons why they lace up their sneakers and running shoes to hit the pavement.
1. Running—it’s easy to get started
To get started in running, there is little needed other than a good pair of sneakers—and a plan. For beginners, Kevin Petrovek, the owner of Hanlon Shoes on Main Street in Hyannis, has just a few words of advice: take it easy and keep it simple. Newcomers to the sport, he says, should take it slow at first, alternating running and walking minutes, in order to build their strength and mileage.
To those who have not engaged in cardiovascular activity recently, Petrovek suggests working on one’s strength and stamina on a stationary bike before pounding the pavement. He adds that a number of run/walk programs are available locally, including one at Barnstable High School, where those interested in running can get started in the sport and learn from others.
2. It’s a great way to meet new people
Though running may be an individual endeavor, it boasts a passionate community of participants and supporters. “There is a camaraderie that comes with running,” Corbett says. “There are great local groups of runners who share a passion for running.”
Visiting a local running store is one way to meet others who enjoy running and learn about running groups in the area. For example, Hanlon Shoes hosts a Wednesday night running group out of its Hyannis storefront, and Mashpee’s Marathon Sports has a group that runs together on Tuesday nights. Both groups draw about 30 participants each week. Finding others who share in a hobby or passion may inspire you to continue doing it—and may even impact your performance, Petrovek says. “When you’re in a group, you tend to push yourself a little more” he says.
3. Discover new places
With its historic neighborhoods, expansive ocean views, and picturesque harbors, Cape Cod is a great place to visit—and, according to the interviewees, a great place to run. “As a runner, if you have ocean views or are on a trail, enjoying nature, I think you get more out of the sport,” says Marc LeBlanc, an elite runner and personal trainer from Ashland, Massachusetts, who plans to complete in his 18th Falmouth Road Race this month. “Being in nature helps you connect more to your body and appreciate your surroundings a little more.”
To find new places to run, Petrovek recommends looking up race courses online. The benefits include knowing the exact length of the route, and races are usually mapped to show off some pretty spectacular scenery, especially on the Cape and Islands. Petrovek says he enjoys driving to a new location—and going for a run when he gets there.
In the hot summer months, Petrovek says the best tip he has for runners is to park near a beach, go for a run, and then follow that with a dip in the ocean. “It feels like being reborn,” he says emphatically.
4. Set, track, and tackle your running goals
With running, improvement is often measured in miles and seconds. These increments can represent significant milestones in a runner’s journey. The ability to track progress keeps many interested in the sport, even after years of participation.
LeBlanc says the thrill of success—however a runner defines it—fuels further development. “You can always learn new tricks, new methods of breathing, tweak your strides. I know I’m meticulous with the details,” he says. “Running has taught me self-discipline, patience. As a runner, you can’t rush progress, or you risk injury.”
5. Fill up the calendar
On every weekend of the year one can find races within driving distance, each offering a unique course and feel. Petrovek says road races have changed over the years, and many of the events today are as much about running as they are about socializing—and taking part in the post-race event. “Now you run races with people instead of against people,” he says. “Twenty, 25 years ago, it was a battle out there.”
Corbett concurs. “Some people are there to finish and others to compete,” he says. “It’s doesn’t matter. It’s more about being active and having fun.”
6. Enjoy the runner’s high.
Ever heard of the runner’s high? It’s for real, Petrovek says. “It’s a good drug,” he says of the feeling many runners experience during and after runs. “It gets your body’s endorphins going and it can change a lot of people’s lives.”
Corbett says running puts him in a better place mentally, “I’m more energized during the day and I love getting out there in the morning for a run,” he says. “It sets the tone for the entire day. In short, it makes you happy.”
7. Running can relieve stress
“Running is the cheapest psychiatrist you’ll ever find,” Corbett says with a laugh. “I tell people that all the time.” No joking aside, he adds that running is a great stress reliever for a lot of people. “No matter what’s going on in your life, if you get out there and have enough time by yourself, you can relax and clear your mind from all the stresses of life,” Corbett says. “And if great things are happening in your life, it’s a chance to soak it all in.”
8. It can be a lot of fun!
After reading reasons one through seven, what are you waiting for? Get out there and run!
A freelance writer from Hull, Nancy White is a regular contributor to Cape Cod LIFE magazine.