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How to be a healthy runner and prepare for a new fall challenge

By Staff | Jul 26, 2013

“I always loved running. It was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” Jesse Owens- Multiple Olympic Gold Medalist 1936

Our local health care community has a long standing interest in preventive medicine and exercise as medicine. In our local community we are fortunate to have partners who share this passion and are creating innovative ways to help us live a healthy life style.

We believe promoting a healthy life style in others begins by embracing a healthy life style for ourselves. We think it also helps to be a part of a “village” that can sustain and encourage our motivation over time. Being a part of a “village” means to join a group of like-minded colleagues who have each made a personal commitment to improve their health.

You too can be part of the “village” by deciding what you will do to improve your health during the next three months. You could decide to participate in an event that will encourage you to exercise (a 5K, half-marathon, bicycling event, etc.)

Commit to a more active lifestyle by performing an aerobic activity four to five days each week (choose your favorite aerobic activities such as walking, dancing, swimming, etc.)

Commit to eating more local natural foods from Farmers Markets and local co-ops. Nourish your garden. Eliminate the highly refined sugars and flours as well as the fast food. At the end of the day we want to avoid heart disease and other lifestyle illnesses. These foods are huge culprits.

Volunteer with a youth or community healthy living initiative. AYSO soccer and school running clubs need leadership, as well as activities for healthy aging.

Use your imagination and make the commitment to improve your health.

Make your decision public by sharing it with a friend or colleague or send me an email message that tells us of your goal. (afrundoc@gmail.com) This helps the commitment, which will soon become an enjoyable habit. It does not take long to be transformed from “I have to exercise (pain) and eat healthy food (yuck)” to “I get to move and eat food that makes me feel good”.

Two Rivers Treads and Berkeley Medical Center Wellness Center are both hosting “Couch to 5k” programs starting in August. In 8-10 weeks you could run a 5K even if you have never run in your life. If you are healthy, even if unfit, 8-10 weeks of progressive training is all you need in order to make that 5K not just achievable, but enjoyable too. For some it is even a transformation.

One inspiring story from our spring group was Chanda Wright, a 52-year-old Bolivar resident, completing a 4-mile course was a victory she’s dreamed of all her life.

“I’ve always wanted to run in a race, but never thought I could,” Wright said.

She started a “Couch to 5K” through Two Rivers Treads and coach/mentor Rebecca Carper. “It’s awesome,” the two-time cancer survivor said. “It’s medication.”

Trainer Rebecca Carper called Wright a “True success story. She has battled so many other things”

So what is the simple recipe for healthy running. It is one that is time tested through generations of athletes in a variety of sports. To be a healthy runner you must embrace both your inner athlete and playful child.

Build your endurance engine by progressively adding time and distance at a comfortable pace. Start with alternating walking and running. Soon you will be able to run easy for 30 minutes. Do not rush this, rather allow it to happen naturally.

Build coordination and strength by doing some easy sprinting, running if different directions, and simply spending less time sitting.

Learn to run in a better movement pattern. Two Rivers Treads, Shepherd Wellness Center, and Berkeley Medical Center Wellness Center offer free clinics hosted by Two Rivers Treads.

Get shoes that allow your feet to work as they were designed. Your feet are active parts of movement and contrary to what you may have been told, they do not need to be excessively supported or cushioned.

Fuel your body with healthy real food. Many take on a fitness program to shed body fat, especially around the belly. Remember “ounces are lost in the gym, pounds are lost in the kitchen”. This quote from the 4 Hour Chef is true. What you eat determines your body metabolic patterns, the exercise complements the healthy adaptation to using body fat as fuel.

And most importantly have fun. The greatest Masters (age 40 plus) runner of all time Jack Foster quotes: “A reporter once asked about the training I did,” wrote Jack. “I told him I didn’t train. The word ‘training’ conjures up in my mind grinding out 200- and 400-meter intervals. I refuse to do this.” For me I interpret it as this. If I finish a run and feel like I could not turn around and do it again, then I’ve run too hard.

The local programs will focus on getting participants ready for Freedom’s Run Oct 12 or the Apple Trample Oct 19. Both races are sponsored by WVU Medical Centers and Education Divisions.

Beginners, walkers, and runners are welcome. Email Rebecca lrcarper@gmail.com or call TR Treads 304-876-1100 for info on the Shepherdstown group to begin the first week in August. The Berkeley Medical Center group will begin the end of August and the contact is Dana DeJarnett DDeJarnett@wvuhealthcare.com