active: running can gradually increase energy levels
By Lauren Knisely
Published July 13, 2005
here for an archive of West Life Sports Editor Zachary
Dzurick's "Red Right 88" weekly columns.
OF THE GET ACTIVE SERIES: You want to live a healthier lifestyle.
You have changed your diet but you want to be more active. Rather
than just pumping iron in the weight room or doing yoga in front
of the television, you want to get outside. If competitive team
sports are not your thing, what can you do? This is the fourth in
a series for adults who want to get involved in lifetime sports
but are not sure how.
So you decided that you want to try running. Now what?
the nonrunner, why someone would want to run without being chased
doesn't really make sense. But there's a lot of healthy benefits from
the sport. It is perhaps one of the easiest sports a person can participate
in because everyone has experience with it. If you can walk you can
run, but many people don't take advantage of their talent unless they
are forced to run for their life.
Anjanette Arabian is the cross country coach at Magnificat High
School and has been running for almost 20 years. Although it may
be intimidating to learn from such an expert, Arabian knows the
keys to success when helping someone pick up the sport.
Running can be tough to get motivated for, but it provides one of
the best opportunities to burn calories and lose weight. It also
will improve endurance and help the heart and lungs. Running causes
the body to release the hormone endorphin that helps the body exercise
for a longer period of time.
are what I like to call natural Advil," Arabian said. "If you're
feeling sore when you start and then all of a sudden you're not
sore anymore, that is because your endorphins are kicking in. If
you start out sore and you want to stop, keep going."
Although the endorphins seem like a bonus, it is still important
to ease into the sport.
an active runner is not an impossible task. Small steps can
lead to good health. (File photo by Larry Bennet)
biggest mistake, especially with running, is that people get what's
called 'superman syndrome'," Arabian said. "They think, 'I'm going
to go out and run a mile today,' and they'll make it through a half
mile then want to keel over. It hurts so much the next day that
they don't come back for another four years."
To help you start easing into a workout plan, you have to know how
to start. Arabian recommends walking to loosen up your muscles,
but it shouldn't be the same pace as when you are window-shopping.
"Walk for a brisk walk to get your heart pumping a little bit more
and your lungs used to breathing a little more heavily," Arabian
If your body is already breathing hard, it will have more time to
adjust while exercising than being shocked into it.
A good beginner's workout focuses mostly on walking, with a few
intervals of running to help the body adjust. Arabian recommends
walking 10 minutes to warm up and then jogging for anywhere from
30 seconds to one minute. When that time is up, slow down to walk
for a few minutes, and then try jogging again.
You only need to begin exercising every other day to allow your
body a day of recovery. Try penciling in a walk to your schedule
every Monday, Wed-nesday and Friday.
If, after a few weeks, the routine seems to be too easy, because
you're body has adjusted, then you can start modifying the work
out to challenge you more.
"What I would have you do is increase the running part to a minute-and-a-half
from one minute, but decrease the walking to 2.5 minutes from 3
minutes," Arabian said. "Do that with each of those segments and
you keep doing that and building upon that until eventually all
that running becomes bigger and the walking in between becomes smaller,
so much that there's no more walking and you're running for a total
of 15 minutes. And then once you're comfortable at that level, then
increase by a minute."
If you are just getting started with running, you are most likely
going to feel sore after each work out. Mainly the muscles in your
legs, such as the claves, quadriceps, and upper glutes, are going
to be sore. However painful the muscle soreness, it's a good sign
that you are pushing your body just enough.
"Soreness is good because it means you're working something," Arabian
said. "If you're not sore then you're not moving hard enough. But
you don't want to be so sore that you can't get off the couch the
next day. There's a difference between being sore and being injured.
When you're injured you go to the doctor and you can't move; when
you're sore it means that your muscles are telling you might have
overdone it a little bit, but not so much that they can't heal themselves."
Eating vegetables is healthly but you can use them another way.
Arabian believes that a frozen 32 ounce bag of vegetables is the
best ice pack for your muscles.
"Put it on your calf and lie there for 15 to 20 minutes, then take
it off for the rest of the night," Arabian said. "It's amazing what
ice will do. It really does help accelerate the healing process.
Put the bag back in the refrigerator and you can use it again the
next night. It's a nice preventative thing and if the ice does help
the soreness go away, then it's a good type of sore."
When muscles are sore it is because they were overworked. But that
doesn't always mean that you should go easier in your exercising.
"When you run, you purposely break your muscle fibers when you go
a little bit harder than normal," Arabian said. "They build back
during that recovery day and when they build back up, they build
back stronger because they're afraid they're going to get broken
again and they want to be prepared."
While tearing muscle fibers, you will also be putting pressure on
your joints, which is why it is important to look for a good pair
of shoes from a specialty running shop. The sales staff will all
have personal experience with running and a better chance at helping
you find the perfect shoes.
Before you go into the store, it is important to take a look at
your running stride and how each foot hits the ground.
"You have to look for they way your foot strikes on the ground,"
Arabian said. "It depends on how your foot might roll to the outside
or roll to the inside. Nobody has a perfect foot strike. When your
foot hits the ground you always hit with your heel and then roll
forward onto your toes, so you want a shoe that compliments or maybe
corrects bad form."
Your running shoes should be reserved for running only; don't wear
them to the mall or to mow the lawn. If you're running a lot, you
should replace your shoes every 400 miles of if they wear out and
lose their support and cushioning before that.
If you are hoping to make running more of a low-impact activity,
not only can a good pair of shoes help, but so can the ground you
run on. Try running on tree lawns for more cushioning or the horse
trails in the Metroparks. If you don't want to go looking for a
place to run, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind
when jogging on the street.
"If you're running in the street, you have to be conscious of the
roads that are crowned," Arabian said. "The middle of the road is
higher than the sides for the water to run off. If you're always
running on the same side of the street one leg will always be lower
than the other. So if you're always running on the same side of
the street your hips are going to be off. Pavement has a little
more give than cement does."
Also keep in mind that unlike biking, you should run against traffic.
This way you can always see what is coming toward you and can jump
up the sidewalk quickly.
Running may seem like a tedious recreational activity, but if you
stick with it, it will provide slower but stronger results.
"Mentally, you have to go into it with a positive attitude," Arabian
said. "You're going to raise your energy level -- not after the
first day because you're going to be tired and not after the second
day, you're still going to be tired -- but over some time. You just
have to be mentally patient and persistent."
It's OK to start running by walking and going slow because you will
always have room to improve. Arabian says don't settle for just
maintaining where you are.
"Once you get comfortable at a certain level of fitness, that's
when you move it up to the next level."