With warmer days approaching, our activity also increases. For some, this may include beginning a running program. While running is not for everyone, it does provide a great workout and is easily tailored to each individual. If you are like most people, the winter is reserved for inactivity and rest. Beginning a program after a period of inactivity can be energizing and satisfying. The goal is to get to the finish line without injuring yourself before you make it. Take these easy steps to ensure yourself of reaching you goal.
1) Gear Up
Believe it or not, having the right outfit is an important step in beginning your program. Dri-fit technology will absorb perspiration making it more bearable for you (and your training partner). Buy some cool comfortable clothes for the warmer months.
Visit a shoe store where you can be fitted properly with the type of shoe that is designed for your foot. Be sure to break them in gradually.
Even if you are not a runner, sign up for a 5K. Many 5K races are set up for run/walk. This will give you a goal to work towards. Start early, the more time you have to train, the better. Ideally plan on 8 weeks.
Make a plan. If possible, find a buddy. It is always easier to stick to a plan when you have someone to do it with. Start small and work your way up increasing no more than 10% each week. Your schedule should include a steady increase in both distance and speed. This is the best way to avoid injury. There are many programs available now on the internet or on smart phones that will walk you through the process.
4) Interval Training
Do not be afraid to alternate between running and walking. Walking will continue to strengthen your muscles. So, if you find yourself out of breath, slow to a steady walk until your recover, and then try another burst of running. The further into your program, the less walking you will need to do.
Always stretch before and after your workout. Focus on the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles and lateral thigh or IT band. Don’t forget your upper body! Whether you realize it or not, you are using these muscles as well.
6) Rest and Hydrate
Most importantly, take days off. Running everyday does not allow your body time to recover. This can result in injuries.
Always remember to drink water or a sports drink. The more your exercise, the more fluids our body loses. It is crucial to replenish our body’s lost fluid and electrolytes.
Just remember, exercise isn’t easy. It takes time and dedication. Always keep your goal in mind. You will be surprised at what your body can do when you just set your mind to it!
Emily Young, PA-C