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So, you want to run

-by Brad Zwart, DPT, OCS; Orange City Area Health System Physical & Occupational Therapy
As we experience slight glimmers of spring on its way, you may be thinking you should run. Well, here are some things to consider if that’s you, or if you’re going to try to talk someone into running with you …
1) Get in shape to run, don’t run to get into shape! Running is a great activity but frequently people go at it with too much gusto that they overload their body’s ability to build up to meet the demands of training. Injury occurs and people end up giving up on their health goals. However, be encouraged that by just moving more than you’re currently doing, you’re getting healthier – you’ve activated your body to do a whole host of great things for your wellbeing.
Getting in shape might mean a lifestyle of walking or biking, lifting heavy things, getting your adipose organ to an appropriate size (losing some body fat), refining your eating/nutritional habits, improving some flexibility, strengthening specific muscles, getting used to drinking enough water, and hanging out with people who are living healthy lifestyles.
2) A general rule is to not increase your mileage by more than 10 – 15% per week. This will give your bodies’ tissues time to build strength to meet the demands. Also, allow a day of rest in between runs. Sometimes it takes discipline to not train.
3) Warming up gives your body a hint that you’re going to give it a challenge. It doesn’t need to be a full 30 minutes of contorting your limbs this way and that, but moving a little farther than what your normal is a few times, lets your brain and tissues prepare for the challenge.
4) Variety in your running program is helpful in minimizing injury risk:
a. Run some zig zags when no one is watching (or swat at the air like there’s a wasp after you)
b. Run harder than normal for a few seconds a few times during your run.
c. Run on different surfaces, while taking into account that the workload may be more because of that and you should decrease how long you’re running then.
d. Run in a pool
5) Shoes: wear a comfortable pair. Foot pain can come from a lot of variables – from an uncomfortable shoe, to overtraining, to stubbing your toe and not remembering it.
6) Professional help – to help you meet your running goals:
a. A Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy – to address medical issues like fatigue, shortness of breath, medication management, unexplained pain, and disease processes and their response to running
b. A Physical Therapist – to evaluate how you move, to address pain when you move, to answer questions on training, or provide advice on specific training to help you most such as with cadence, strengthening, stretching and mileage adjustments.
c. A nutritionist or dietician – to promote optimal eating to match your goals,
d. A personal trainer or coach – to give you accountability and variety to your exercise program, and help give you a mental edge
7) Set goals that are reasonable
a. Run 3 days per week – keep a log
b. Don’t over train or under-train
c. Do 10 % more next week – keep a log
d. Register for a road race that fits your expected training mileage at that time
e. Enjoy moving, enjoy the process!
Orange City Area Health System offers a wide range of physical and occupational therapy services, as well as a sports medicine clinic. Contact us to learn more.