updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

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Maggie Gossett Is Running For Her LIfe

Maggie Gossett training for the Dogwood Dash in April.by DW Ivans

Maggie Gossett is training to run the Dogwood Dash in April, and the stakes are high. She is running for her life. She must run to survive her condition. Maggie has Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that attacks every cell in the body. Mucus in her lungs threatens her life by creating a breeding ground for infection. Each infection requires antibiotics to clear up, but over time the lungs scar and gradually lose function. This past fall, Maggie's doctor said, "If your lung function goes any lower we are going to start talking about a lung transplant." She also said, "the only way to increase your lung function is to run!" The heavy breathing fills the lungs, infusing oxygen through the healthy alveoli to surround the clogged alveoli and keep them alive. The doctor said, "You need to pick a race and train for it." That got Maggie's attention. It's as if she has no choice. So everyday she gets on her treadmill and runs. Now this may sound strange, but is it not the same for all of us? We all should be running (or walking or doing some form of exercise) for our lives. Our bodies were designed for physical activity. We could all take a lesson from Maggie: get moving, breathe in the life giving oxygen, and live.

To begin running, here are a few basic tips: Start slow, begin with walking and slowly add running. There are several couch-to-5K programs to help you succeed. Stay slow. Running too fast burns sugar and not fat. You can run all day on fat, but only a short time on sugar. When your heart rate gets above a certain beats-per-minute level, there is not enough oxygen in the blood to fuel the muscles, so a different chemical action takes place. It is called going from aerobic to anaerobic. It is not always bad to go anaerobic, but it is a form of stress on the body. It causes muscle soreness and fatigue. Also, any irregularities in form are likely to cause irritation and injury. Heart rate monitors are good for monitoring your aerobic level. A simple formula to determine your maximum aerobic function in heartbeats per minute is 180 minus your age. If you train at this level or lower, you will burn fat, minimize, soreness, and build aerobics fitness. Proper form is essential to prevent injury. You naturally knew how to run as a child, but it can be difficult to learn again, especially with all the high tech running gear that allows runners to run with poor form. Basically, thick cushioned shoes that allow you to strike with the heel are helpful. There is much to be said on the subject, but simply stated: God designed you with arches and knees to absorb the shock of running, so use them instead of the cushioning in your shoes.

To learn more about this subject, see the following books: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall or The Big Book of Endurance, Training and Racing by Dr. Phillip Mafftone.

DW Ivans is a local runner who has run 2,000 miles in the past three years. He is the father of Maggie Gossett.

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