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Off and Running

Start with support and safety in mind. Spring into action, but take care.

With the weather getting progressively warmer, running season is on the move.

Whether you are new to running or have been hitting the ground for many seasons, starting on the right foot begins with the right shoes.

“All shoes are not created equal in regards to cushion and support,” said Nickie Luse, manager of Up and Running in Washington Twp. “Typically you want to replace athletic shoes every three-five months depending on your use or 300-400 miles.”

Starting slow, warming up and stretching safely will help your body adjust to the demands of a running workout.

“It is very important to start your run off slow at a conversational pace so your body can warm up and you don’t feel out of breath in the beginning of your run,” Luse said. “You should never stretch cold muscles prior to activity. Stretching after a run is very important.”

Flexibility training is vital, said Tammy Beam, owner of The Fitness Cellar in Springfield. “Warm up for at least 10-15 minutes with a slow walk or bike at a slow or moderate speed before you start stretching. Staying flexible can also help runners improve time and prevent injury,” Beam said.

Luse said, “New runners should worry about time as opposed to distance. Each week your longest run can increase by 10 percent; this will keep you from overtraining. You should make sure to take a few days off during the week for rest or cross training, so you aren’t pounding the roads every day. Another important running tip is to change up the surface you run on. Mixing the surface up from local tracks, to roads, to trails in the metro parks is a great way to stay injury free.”

If you are preparing for a running event, Beam, who ran her first half marathon at age 40, said there are several ways to train, starting with a good website that outlines day-to-day running schedules.

“It is very important that you start slow, and it will get easier as you get closer to the event. I do believe that some people are born to run and some are not. That does not mean that you can’t still set goals for yourself and accomplish your goals with the right training,” Beam said.

Beam started her training with a watch and a pair of running shoes, and she would run for one minute and then walk for a minute. Eventually she was increasing her run and decreasing her walk.

“I would still follow my running schedule. If it was a two-mile run I would still run and walk my way through it. As the weeks went by I found myself running an entire mile and as soon as I crossed the one mile marker I would stop and walk my one minute. I never stopped that style of running, and it was a way for me to accomplish my goal at 40 to run a half marathon,” Beam said.

To compliment their running performance, Beam highly recommends advanced runners cross-train and strength train.

“A good spinning class that will get the heart rate up but also gives the legs and feet a break from the pounding. Any kind of aerobic activity that you can find that is low impact can still help you get ready for your next event. I have often witnessed advanced runners hurting or worse (injured) because they stopped their strength training program so they could get their daily runs in. I think this is a big mistake. … Most importantly you must make sure you are getting enough daily calories. Make sure you are hydrating.”

In addition to the right training, shoes and prep, runners need to be smart about their course.

“Safety is very important when you are outside running on the roads. It is very important to wear lights and reflective gear, so cars and pedestrians/cyclists can see you on the road. It is always important to run toward traffic as opposed to with traffic. Wearing a Road ID or some sort of personal identification is very important; you can never be too careful,” Luse said.

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