The long-distance running events at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro provided many inspiring stories of women and men who trained long and hard and overcame adversity to reach this pinnacle of sports.
The runners came from all different walks of life but all shared at least one thing in common. They got involved in running by putting one foot in front of the other, and then repeating those steps over and over.
Only a handful of runners ever make it to the Olympic level in track and field but that’s no reason to let them have all the fun. No matter what your age or fitness level, almost all of us can benefit from running.
The first race I ever ran was a 5K in Phoenix in 1995. I’ve always been athletic but training for a race was a different animal. I found that by taking “baby steps” and gradually increasing my workout, I was able to get into a routine. The “start-slow” approach helped me be more successful in the long run (pun intended) than trying to push myself to the limit right out of the starting blocks. Just like the fable of the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race.
COMMIT TO RUN
A good first step is to find a race, sign up for it and mark it in your calendar. There is nothing like a firm commitment to get you moving. Virtually anyone can run a race successfully as long as they allow enough time to train for it. The Sun Health Arizona Marathon, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, is a great place to start and there’s still plenty of time to prepare. You can even get a discount by using SUNHEALTH10, when you register. NOTE: the discount is good through Nov. 30, 2016.
FIND YOUR STRIDE
All runners are not made the same. Some of us are natural heel-strikers; other tend to lead with their toes. The good news is that both ways can work. Using your natural stride is usually the best route to go, but if you’re not sure what’s right for you, talk to experienced runners or go to a running store.
The Run-Walk-Run method works well for beginners as well as for experienced runners looking to improve their race times. It was pioneered by former Olympian and now running coach Jeff Galloway. It’s best known for the “huff and puff” rule, which means that if you hear yourself huffing and puffing, then slow your pace and take a walk break.
Here are some guidelines for using the method.
|Beginner||10-30 seconds||1-2 minutes||For your entire run|
|Intermediate||1-5 minutes||1-2 minutes||For your entire run|
|Experienced||6-8 minutes||30 seconds to 1 minute||For your entire run|
Susan Welter has completed 20 marathons in her life, including The Boston Marathon. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing.