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Christian’s Sports Beat: Time for summer running

Members of Hurricane Middle School’s Cross-Country team following Coach Jimmy Cunningham during a recent training run.

It’s now summer and that means everyone will be seeing more runners and walkers out there on the roads and trails in the area. It’s the time of the year when those who exercise outdoors need to remember a few very important things that will help them enjoy themselves.

I enjoy running this time of year and seeing my mileage climb as the temperature also climbs, but I try to follow the advice of few running veterans to help me train, one of those being Robert Smith, owner of Robert’s Running and Walking Shop in Huntington and Charleston.

Like every runner, I try to stay hydrated as much as possible this time of year and Smith agreed, “Everybody is a little bit different. It all comes down to what your own needs are for each run. Some runners sweat more than others, so everyone needs to play it by ear. Runners also need to be aware of drinking too much water, which can flush too many minerals out of their system.”

Smith opened his Huntington store in 2006 and the Charleston store in 2010 and both locations serve runners and walkers Tuesday through Saturday.

I have long since put away my cold-weather running gear, as it has been great for running this spring and now summer. Smith explained to me that wearing the correct clothing is another key to enjoy running this time of year. “Runners just getting into the sport need to stay away from cotton shirts and socks. Cotton absorbs more water and that can cause irritation and especially socks; wet socks can cause blisters and that’s no fun at all. Also with cotton, anything that holds more moisture also holds more heat,” he said.

Smith, an active runner himself, is a native of Huntington and was an All-State cross country and track athlete at Huntington East High School and then competed from Marshall University’s cross country team.

I get my running equipment from Robert’s Running and Walking Shop, and one of the cool things about shopping there is all the staff are runners and speak the language of the sport. Smith told me that has been a key to both stores’ success. “We all run, and I think that makes us different. We understand what runners are facing while training, so we can help them. More than anything, we share the love of running and I think that is more important than how much experience someone has or how good they are.”

When Smith opened his Charleston store, he ran from his Huntington store to the Charleston location for the grand opening, a trek of roughly 50 miles that took him a little under eight hours.

Having a local running shop is not only important to individuals, but to team members and coaches of middle, high school and college, cross country and track squads in the area. One of those coaches is Jimmy Cunningham of Hurricane Middle School’s track and cross-country, who said, “It is invaluable having a store like Robert’s. Nowhere else can you go for your running needs and get the service the staff provides. They always go above and beyond making sure they are meeting all your running needs.”

Robert’s hosts team nights at both stores before each cross country and track season.

Speaking of the running seasons, middle high school cross country runners are finishing up this week, three weeks of off-season training allowed by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission. Smith said he always liked the summer training when he was in school. “It’s my opinion that you can’t really come into the season that begins late August, without getting those base miles in during a summer program. Everyone is running in the summer now, and, unless you want to be 10 steps behind everybody else, you’ve got to get those summer miles in.”

So when you are ready for that next pair of running shoes, check out Robert’s Running and Walking Shop, and maybe I will see you out on the road or in a local 5K race.

Christian Deiss, 13, of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane Middle School.


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