Running for Fitness in 2014
Get healthy. Lose weight. Gain strength. Read a nonfiction book. Eat more greens. Resolution time is here! I prefer goal setting at this time of year simply because it implies a more deeply considered objective for the year. Setting goals means we have not only determined what we want to focus on, but also have planned how to make it happen. We are setting ourselves up for success with a strategy, smaller attainable goals along the way, and a support system to lean on when things inevitably get tough. Obviously, one of the most popular goals is to improve our health by moving more and increasing our fitness. There as many strategies for achieving that goal as there are those of us who set it, however I’m a running coach so we are going to run there!
Running is an incredibly efficient form of exercise, both in the amount of calories it burns and the small amount of equipment required. No matter how fast we run, we burn approximately 100 calories per mile. Fast or slow, if calorie burn is the goal running will get you there. You simply need a good pair of running shoes, a sport bra (for the ladies), and the desire to put one foot in front of the other. You don’t need a $5000 piece of equipment or a fancy gym membership. You can run alone in the woods and clear your mind. You can run with a pack of friends on the Olentangy Trail, our amazing Metro Parks, or the streets of Baltimore. You can drive somewhere to set out on a long run or simply step out your front door and run around the block. 100 calories per mile on average, how you get there is up to you.
Set a Race or Event Goal
Once the hype of the New Year wears off it can be tough to stay motivated, especially when starting a new routine that requires being outside in the cold. To combat the desire to throw the covers back over your head, set a race or event goal now. Sign up for a race in the spring, something that is far enough out that you have time to train but not so far that you can put it off. Often the entry fee is enough to quiet the snooze alarm and get you moving.
Columbus is quickly becoming a running city and as such has two world class endurance events in downtown Columbus; The Capital City Half and Quarter Marathon in May and The Columbus Marathon in October. Cap City is a perfect goal race for this time of year. The May 3 event by M3S Sports hosts 15,000 runners and walkers over 3 distances: half marathon (13.1 miles), quarter marathon (6.55 miles), and 5k (3.1 miles). There’s a race distance for everyone and with a super-sized celebration at the finish line, it’s a not to be missed event for any runner or walker in Columbus.
Make an Appointment with Yourself
Once you set your race goal the key is consistent training. Any training program should start slowly and build over time. You want your new found hobby to become a lifestyle and you can’t run if you are injured, so don’t start out too far or too fast. Simply add a bit of running or run/walking to your current fitness routine. Add minutes as the weeks go on. For the Cap City Half and Quarter Marathons we have schedules starting Jan 1 all the way through race day. If you are training for Cap City check out the schedules here! No matter what your goal, put your workouts on your calendar and treat them just like any other appointment. Do this for at least the first 6 weeks of any new routine, until it becomes a habit. Allow for any drive and cool-down time (or post run chat with your running buddy). This is your time to focus on you and you deserve it, so don’t skip!
Whether it is hundreds of athletes working toward full and half marathon goals, first time 5k runners logging new distances every week, or your own friends that meet for a few miles; training with groups will change the way you think about running. There is nothing wrong with the serenity of running alone with just your thoughts for company, but many times a consistent group of running partners can make a world of difference. Partners get us out of bed at 5am to meet on a snowy morning, they push us through that last tough mile, and you will find that all kinds of things are shared and worked through on runs with friends new and old. Columbus has amazing training groups for all levels. I coach for Marathoner in Training half and full marathoners and work with No Boundaries 5k/10k runners many of whom completed their first 5k on January 1! Cap City partners with many training groups throughout the city so if you’re looking for a group check them out online and go run with them. Running groups are famously friendly folks!
Log Your Progress
Whatever your goal and from wherever you start, log your progress. You can use an old fashioned spiral notebook or an online log like trainingpeaks.com. It can be an invaluable tool as you look back on what worked and what didn’t. After a few months or years you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come. Logging workouts can motivate us to keep going when necessary or actually can help identify times we may need a day off. Keep track of your time, miles, clothing/shoes, how you felt, and anything that may have affected your workout or your stress level that day. Have fun with it, try not to make it a chore, this is your record of your accomplishments!
Want to Lose Weight?
Fleet Feet Sports Columbus has challenged Central Ohioans to collectively lose a ton of weight over the course of the next 3 months. The group is called The Movement and participants will work on their own to lose weight but coaches will be accessible to support, motivate, and provide tips along the way. There are prizes and incentives throughout the program and an award celebration on April 15th to celebrate our collective accomplishment. Come join us and help Columbus reach our goal of 2000 pounds lost!
Runners are notoriously single minded and goal driven. The benefits of running are clear, however add some form of resistance training to your routine whether it is traditional weight lifting, pilates, yoga, or TRX. Yoga is especially useful because it will help strengthen and build muscles that running does not work. Practicing yoga will also ensure proper stretching and mindfulness that runners often neglect. If you live Downtown try Seven Studios, I promise you’ll leave inspired!
In 2014 consider adding running to your workout plan. There really is no easier way to get moving and start the journey of fitness. Set a goal, sign up for a race, make an appointment to run, join a group, log your progress, and find some balance! This time next year you will be celebrating the new lifestyle and I’m betting will have scored a handful of race medals! See you on the trail and Happy Training!
Photos by Walker Evans.
From January 6 – 12, Columbus Underground is featuring our Health & Wellness Week series, brought to you by the YMCA of Central Ohio. Join the Y in January and pay $0 enrollment. At the Y, we’re not a health club, we’re a health movement – committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Follow us on Facebook at ymcacolumbusohio and on Twitter @YMCAColumbus. 12 locations, unlimited possibilities! The YMCA. Fit for All.