Hit the ground running! | Cape Cod LIFE August 2016

Marc LeBlanc of Ashland trains for the Falmouth Road Race. Photo by Alex Bouthillier

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.”