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Fit Fridays with Tracy: How to get started running


The thing about running is everyone can do it.

There’s no need for special skills, expensive gear, athletic ability or even good genes.

All running requires is a pair of shoes and a little determination. Studies have shown that running can help prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and even cancer. Don’t bother joining a gym to run on a treadmill, you can run right from your front door!

The most important investment you definitely should make in your quest to run more often is a good pair of running shoes. Pay a visit to a specialty store where employees can recommend running shoes based upon your ability and goals. They may even watch you run to ensure the shoes you buy will complement the way your foot strikes the ground.

As you progress with your running and setting new goals, you may want to invest in a heart- rate monitor to ensure you keep your exertion level where it should be.

Be sure to eat about 200 to 400 calories of mostly complex carbs and a little protein about an hour-and-a-half prior to your run. What works best for your pre-run meal depends on you. Be sure to drink about 20 ounces of water about two hours prior to running. This will give the water enough time to pass through your system and be voided prior to your run.

Before you head out, warm-up your muscles with a five- minute walk. This will help decrease the chance of your muscles feeling tight during your run. You can save the traditional stretch-and-hold stretches for after your run. It’s also important to refuel after your run as well. Try to consume a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein within 30 to 45 minutes after your run to provide your tired muscles with the fuel they need to recover swiftly.

When you start running, don’t plan to go too far or too fast right away. Make it a goal to run to the end of the block and back. Gradually increase the amount of time you’re running and the number of days you run, but do not increase either until you feel comfortable completing your current level of training. If 20 minutes is too much, don’t be afraid to take walking breaks throughout the duration of your run.

Once you’re jogging 30 minutes a day, consider increasing your pace so you can cover more ground in the same period of time. You can reap fitness rewards with just 30 minutes a day, three to five times per week. As you become more comfortable with the running, work on eliminating your walking breaks. When you’re a beginner, it’s not necessary to worry about how many miles you are running. Gradually you’ll begin to cover more ground in the same amount of time and that’s when you’ll want to increase the duration of your workout!

Keep these simple things in mind and before you know it, you’ll feel comfortable with running as a part of your workout and won’t think twice about it.

Tracy Springs is a fitness instructor at LA Fitness. Feel free to contact her at [email protected] with any questions or to set up a fitness appointment at the LA Fitness Waukegan facility.