Thinking About Running?

If you have never tried running, now is the perfect time to give it a try. Orange has three upcoming 5K (3.1miles) road races. The advantages to in-town events are obvious.{{more}} It is the easiest and least nerve wrecking way to do an activity that is out of your comfort zone. You will run a course you know in a familiar area, you don’t have to plan for extra travel time, and you have the camaraderie and support of friends and neighbors. Choose from the three, or do all and track your progress. The events are: Saturday, May 18, Peck Place Panther Pounce; Saturday, June 8, Racebrook Rockin’ Road Race and Sunday, June 30, Doc’s 5K Race. Train with friends and celebrate with brunch afterwards.

There are many different ways to train for a 5K. If you have never run or haven’t exercised for a long time, it is wise to get clearance from your doctor. Running is a high impact activity, and completing this distance will require the ability to sustain an elevated heart rate for 30 to 50 minutes while in constant motion.

Begin your training with fast walking to get your body used to maintaining an elevated heart rate (breath is panting). Try for a frequency of 3 to 4 times per week for 30 to 60 minutes. One of those days can be used for strength and core training. When you feel comfortable, intersperse 30 to 60 seconds of jogging. Increase the time of the run interval only after you have improved your speed and recovery rate. Elevating the intensity improves cardiovascular fitness which benefits endurance. Simply stated, the only way to run fast is to run fast. Soon, you will be running more than you are walking.

For those with some running experience, one way to increase both endurance and speed is with the Yasso 800 intervals, developed by Bart Yasso, an editor at Runners’ World magazine. These are alternating half mile repeats at your desired race pace, and recovery rate. In the recovery lap, try to limit any walking in order to maintain a working level heart rate. I do these repeats at the High Plains track where one lap is .4 mile (close enough). These intervals are great if you were a sprinter in high school or college, or find short distances more manageable, or overcompensate by running slower than your capacity, or do not incorporate fartleks (short accelerations) in your training.

Hills. The roads in Orange have hills. Don’t avoid them, don’t be afraid of them. More than likely your regular route will have some rolling terrain. Let it become part of your habit, you will learn to read the hills and adjust your gait. It will naturally shorten as your knees raise a little higher.

Cross training is always good. Maintain your other sport(s). Cycling and swimming improve cardiovascular capacity. Tennis and basketball stress agility and reaction time.

It is important to stretch both before and after you run. Stretch a little before to bring blood to the muscles keeping them elastic and reactive enough for the impact. The majority of your stretching will be after your run to reestablish flexibility and keep the muscles elastic to reduce the likelihood of injury. Tight, rigid muscles are likely to tear, whereas warm elastic muscles will react with the impact. Stretching ensures that you can exercise another day.

Lesley is a health and fitness professional providing a balanced approach toward a healthy lifestyle. She can be reached at