Editor's note: George Frazier, manager at CentreTown Fitness in Wheeling, and his staff will be providing a series of training articles leading up to the 37th annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, scheduled for May 25 in Wheeling.
I stood at the finish line on 14th Street in 1977 and watched the city's first distance race runners finish the long race, and I was quite surprised by the number of local people of all shapes and sizes that were able to complete such a challenging course. I determined at that moment I was going to train and compete in the second race.
I have successfully competed in 32 of the 36 years of the race now known as the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic. Little did I realize I was developing a lifestyle habit that I would maintain for future years.
Running is the most basic form of exercise. The beauty of running is that it's so simple, so adaptable, that anyone can do it. Running can be done anywhere, at any time, in any location and in any kind of weather. Running is relatively inexpensive and requires a minimal amount of equipment. A good pair of shoes, properly fitted, and the right type of clothing for the weather, and you are good to go for a workout.
Another positive point worth mentioning is running can be enjoyed alone, with a partner, or even in groups as long as everyone is comfortable with the pace.
Any healthy person can run and any de-conditioned person can become healthy by beginning a walking or running program. It does not matter how fast or how far you run, you can do it.
RUNNING 'DOS & DON'TS'
Running is a simple activity, but the following "dos and don'ts," as described by Road Runner's Club of America in the Complete Book of Running, will help beginning runners succeed:
1. Don't begin a running program without a full medical exam.
2. Don't attempt to train through an athletic injury. Little aches and pains can sideline you for weeks or months if you don't take time off and seek medical advice.
3. Do dress correctly. Wear white or reflective clothing if it's dark outside. If it's cold, wear layers of clothing, gloves and some type of hat or wool cap to retain heat. Sun block, sunglasses, a baseball cap, and white clothing make sense on a sunny, hot day.
4. Don't run in worn-out shoes. Check the heels and smooth areas of the shoe for excessive wear. Don't run in shoes that are designed for other sports, such as basketball or tennis shoes.
5. Do tell other people where you will be running and when you expect to return. Carry some type of identification and communication device in case of emergency.
6. Do some light stretching exercises prior to your run/walk to reduce muscle tightness and increase range of motion. You should do more specific stretching after the workout when the muscles and tendons are warm and loose, to promote flexibility and prevent injuries.
7. Do watch out for cars and don't expect drivers to watch out for you. Always run facing traffic so that you can see cars approaching. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing any intersection.
8. Do include a training partner in your program. A training partner with similar abilities can provide motivation and safety.
9. Don't wear headphones when training outside. They tune you out from your surroundings, making you more vulnerable to all types of hazards.
10. Don't run in remote areas, especially if you are a woman running alone. If you don't have a partner, run with a dog or carry some type of self-defense spray. Don't assume other runners are harmless.
Even if you mix walking with running, which is recommended for beginners, you will lose weight, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol by increasing HDL levels, reduce daily stress and anxiety and feel more energized.
The aforementioned are a few of the many physical benefits. The mental benefits include lowered risk of depression, improved mood and self-image, and better sleep habits. Many runners take up the sport to reduce their inherited risk of heart disease or to lose a few pounds. They continue running because of the relaxation and exhilaration they achieve from the workout every day.
Running is the ultimate individual sport. It doesn't matter how fast or slow you run in comparison to other runners. You set your own pace and measure your own progress. It is a very good idea to keep a runner's log and chart your progress. You might also record comments about how you felt on the run, what the weather was like and what type of terrain you trained on that day.
Charting your mileage is not as important as the amount of time you spent during the workout. Most exercise physiologists believe that 45-60 minutes per day provides the greatest health and fitness benefits.
Running can be a rewarding and energizing way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. The Ogden Half Marathon can serve as a motivation to get started running. I have spent my life enjoying the benefits of a running program and you can, too.