Several thousand runners took on 13.1 miles at last November's DRC Half Marathon at White Rock Lake.

The neighborhood is sometimes divided over running events. Some think marathons and other-distance events are a great way to raise money for charity and get the community excited about fitness and healthy competition, while others find these events to be a huge inconvenience for which they see no valid purpose.

I have a solution: everyone should get involved — run for yourself or as part of a relay team or volunteer — in one of next fall’s big races.

And if you are going to do it, it’s time to start planning now. Registration for the Nov. 6 Dallas Running Club Half Marathon is open and early birds can register for $50 (half marathons normally run closer to $100) and registration for the Dec. 4 Dallas MetroPCS White Rock Marathon and Half Marathon opens June 1. They also offer discounts for those who register early.

Not sure how to start training for something like this? Neighborhood running store Run On! offers training classes for fall races (about $200-$250 a season), and (best value) Dallas Running Club’s fall training program recently opened registration. The fall training program orientation meeting is slated for late July. To enroll, you must first become a DRC member ($25 a year) and the season is $55 for 5k training, $75 for half marathon or marathon training, which includes entry into the aforementioned DRC Half Marathon.

The groups do most training at White Rock Lake or near SMU and the Katy Trail.

Some of our bodies can’t take the pounding that running delivers, so keep in mind, these events and programs are walker-friendly and accommodate any level of experience or pace.

Personally, I was a fickle exerciser who had never run more than eight miles until I did what I am suggesting here and registered for the 2009 White Rock Marathon. Once I was signed up, I had 26.2 good reasons to get out and run every day for several months — it changed my life and I haven’t stopped since.