Running is a great form of exercise and a good stress reliever. Many people are intimidated by runners and running, but they should not be. Running is an individual sport and, technically, you are really competing against yourself. In races, you compete against yourself and your goal times. Even if you are the last person to finish a race, you should not be ashamed-think of the countless number of people who cannot even walk the distance you’ve accomplished.
When starting any exercise program, make sure you are healthy enough to participate. An overall check up with your primary care physician is advised. Make sure to explain to them your fitness plan. If you have foot or ankle problems, a trip to your podiatrist would also be advised. Your podiatrist can evaluate your mechanics and give you advice on proper shoe gear, inserts and maybe even a stretching regimen.
When you are cleared and ready to begin, you need to start out in baby steps. Beginners start out with a 20 to 30 minute goal daily for 3-5 days of the week. These 20 to 30 minutes would include both walking and running. Start by alternating walking 2-3 minutes and jogging 2-3 minutes to your tolerance. If you end up walking most of the 1st few days, so what? You are still off to a start. Plan on increasing the consecutive minutes of running over the next 1-2 weeks until you are able to run the full 20 to 30 minutes. After you are comfortable running 20 to 30 minutes, you can start to increase your mileage. You’ll want to gradually increase mileage, adding 1-2 miles weekly until you reach your goal. Currently, I am only participating in 5K races so my typical runs average between 3 and 5 miles. Once you get yourself comfortable with your goal mileage, you can start to try to work on increasing you speed. This consists of mixing a few short sprints into your runs followed by a recovery period of walking or jogging. Always be careful not to over train by increasing mileage too quickly or by not allowing the body to rest a few days during the week.
Some people prefer to run solo as a meditation/stress reliever. Other people prefer to run in a group/or buddy type setting. If you prefer a group, then research running clubs in your area. The Lehigh Valley has groups for beginner runners as well as seasoned runners.
There are many parks and trails that welcome runners. You can also map out a safe course near your home or workplace. Always make sure to be safe when running. Avoid use of earphones that could impair your hearing of motor vehicles or other people approaching. Always hydrate well before and after a run. Poor hydration can lead to muscle pain and cramping. Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are all advisable to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Stretching before and after a run can help to avoid injury to muscles and tendons.
Look for future posts on common running injuries, proper shoe gear and training.
Check out LV Running Scene’s website for information on where to run in the Lehigh valley and group programs: www.lvrunningscene.com
Dr. Baker is an avid runner and enjoys competing in 5K and ½ marathons on a regular basis. She likes to keep her athletes on their toes. She also has a special interest in heel pain, treating patients with state of the art options — both surgical and non-surgical. She prides herself in being an expert in custom orthotic and bracing options as well.