Beginning Running for Dummies

So you want to start running? Good for you! Running is a great way to exercise and stay healthy.

Beginning runners

If you haven’t been exercising regularly, you might want to think about a few things before you lace up your shoes. Of course, I am obliged to tell you to get a physical exam before you embark on a new exercise program.

Beyond that, here are a few tips:

1. Get some new shoes. You might have those 1989 high top tennis shoes in your closet that you think are perfectly adequate, but trust me—they’re not. And do not even think about buying yourself running shoes at Wal-mart. Shoes will be the most important investment you make in your new hobbie, so invest smartly. I recommend going to a running store that specializes in fitting your feet with appropriate shoes (depending on your arches, pronation style, etc.). I ran for about 5 years before I did this. And, when I finally was fit for shoes, I learned that I had been wearing shoes about a size too small. This is why I had bloody blisters on my toes! I had figured all runners had those!

2. Start slow. I mean, very slow. One of the more common mistakes I see new runners make is simply running too fast. I had a friend a few years back who started running and couldn’t figure out how I could easily run 7-8 miles. He said he couldn’t even make it half a mile. I went running with him, and it was easy to diagnose the problem. I could barely keep up with him for that half mile. He was starting out running 7 minute miles! I would say an appropriate pace for most new runners is about 11-12 minute miles. You will make more progress running three 12 minute miles than half a 7 minute mile, so slow down!

3. Walk. Many new runners refuse to walk because it seems like cheating. Walking is actually a great strategy for new runners. Try running for 5 minutes and then walking for 1 minute. Do this 5-6 times. This is a great way to build up your stamina. As you progress, run more and walk less. You’ll improve faster if you walk when you get tired and begin running again in a minute than if you just quit because you can’t continue. Just keep moving!

4. Don’t compare yourself. You will always know people who can run faster and farther than you can. So what? Get over it. You have to realize that you are running at your own pace and for your own reasons. You may or may not participate in races. If you do participate, you may or may not be competitive. But, it doesn’t matter; you’re still a runner. Don’t be afraid to see yourself this way. For years, I’ve said stuff like, “Oh, I’m not a REAL runner, I run 10 minute miles.” I finally gave that up. I am a REAL runner, as much as someone who runs 6 minute miles. We both get out there and run because it’s important to us.

Finally, just get out there and run. If you have problems with injuries or training dilemmas, get on the internet and do some research to see how to work through these issues. But you can worry about all that later. For now, the most important thing is just to run.

5 of the Hottest Running Routes in the Phoenix Area

The rising temperature does not have to thwart your exercise routine. As the temperatures dip in the morning and in the twilight, hit the trails at these destinations for your daily run.

Running along desert road

South Mountain Park

At 13,000 acres, South Mountain boasts one of the largest parks in the US. With ten different trails, this park is a great haven for runners of all levels. Alta Trail is one of the most difficult trails at 4.5 miles of steep terrain, while the Judith Tunell trail at one mile divided between two half-mile loops is one of the easier jogs. Along the paths, a runner can find water fountains and ramadas for a quick break before hitting the trails again. The park opens at 5 am, allowing runners to enjoy the cooler temperatures. The park’s website is here.

Scottsdale Green Belt

If a tamer, more cement-lined running path is preferred, check out the Scottsdale Green Belt at Hayden and Chaparral. Though the paths are clearly marked, the scenery is beautiful. Set to parks, golf courses and the splendor of Camelback Mountain, many Scottsdale and Tempe residents use the Green Belt as their trail of choice. Serious runners can take the Belt for miles, from Old Town Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake.

Papago Park Trails

Papago is preferred by runners for an outdoor, natural setting while still in the heart of a thriving city. Despite being a popular spot for runners, once on the trail few others are spotted making this a great secluded destination. Papago is located on the border of Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix with the entrance north of McDowell St and south of Washington St. The park is easily accessible on the light rail stop, Priest. Some highlights for runners include water fountains, ponds, the Phoenix Zoo and close proximity to the Desert Botanical Gardens. Jackrabbits and coyotes are common to spot along the paths.

North Moutain Park

A great place to start the jog is 7th St and Thunderbird. Runners will be enchanted with the wildflowers and scenic view as they job up Shaw Butte. Though the trek is demanding, the temperatures will be cooler amidst the lush scenery of the park. For more information on the trails, check out this site: http://www.phoenix.gov/PARKS/nmvc.html

Phoenix Encanto District

If an urban trek is desired over a natural setting, few districts are as charming as Phoenix’s Encanto District. True to the Phoenix grid-system, the neighborhood is easy to navigate. This path is ideal for the runner who is also an architecture-buff since the homes are styled from the 1920s-1950s era. Start at 7th Avenue and McDonald, exploring as far as 15th Avenue and Thomas. The city sky line can be viewed during the run, too. With any luck, the peacocks known to roam the neighborhood may greet you with its cat-like cries as you run past the charming houses. To learn more about this District, see http://www.historicphoenix.com/historic-districts/encanto-palmcroft-historic-district/

Enjoy the run, and stay hydrated!

Running Injuries: Common Symptoms and Treatment Options

Running injuries

Many people around the world love to jog or run, may it be as a recreational runner or a professional runner, but nearly 70% of them will at some time sustain a running-related injury.

Even though most sustained injuries are minor, some are quite serious that requires surgical repair of the injured part. Moreover, these minor running injuries may become chronic if left untreated or inappropriately treated. The common sites of running injuries include the knee, Achilles (calcaneal) tendon, hip and groin, foot and ankle and back. Among these, the knee is the most commonly affected area.

Some of the running related injuries include Shin splint Syndrome, sprain (on the knee or the ankle joints), plantar fasciitis (the most common cause of heel pain in runners), Achilles tendonitis, synovitis, and muscle soreness.

Joggers or runners may also experience hyperthermia (increased body temperature) due to prolonged sweating and inadequate replacement of water and electrolytes in hot weather.

Injury Causes

Most running injuries are attributed to improper or faulty training techniques. This may involve inadequate or lack of warm-up routines. Beginning runners, sometimes too enthusiastic and out of shape, are often hurt when they initially run too much or run too soon.

Heavy and prolonged sweating especially with inadequate replacement of fluids and electrolytes may cause hyperthermia (increased body temperature). Running on hard or uneven surfaces for extended periods and wearing poorly constructed or worn out running shoes are some factors that contribute to running injuries. Other factors also inlcude improper running posture and structural abnormalities such as flat footedness, unequal leg length and muscle imbalance.

Signs and Symptoms of Injury

The most common sign of running related injuries is pain. Other signs and symptoms include swelling, bruising, inability to move or use the joint, and sometimes a feeling of popping or tearing when the injury happens.

Temperature Related Conditions

For heat cramps, symptom includes muscle cramping in the legs or back; in heat exhaustion, signs and symptoms may include headache, confusion, muscle cramps and pulse is weak and rapid; Heat Stroke, which is a medical emergency, include the skin becomes hot and dry, absent sweating, involuntary movements, seizures and may lead to death if left untreated.

Conservative Treatment Measures

Most minor injuries may be treated initially by PRICEMS Therapy, which stands for Protection, Rest, Ice application, Compression, Elevation, Medications, and Support. Immediately apply ice pack for about 15 – 20 minutes, rest and elevate the injured part. You may also apply an elastic bandage, if possible, to compress the injured tissue. Avoid applying heat during the acute stage of injury as this will worsen the swelling. It is also helpful to take aspirin and related nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, to minimize the pain. Continue using PRICEMS Therapy for 2 – 3 days until swelling subsides. Follow-up treatment may include alternating moist heat and ice massage. (If there is still swelling, don’t apply heat.)

For severe cases (a complete tear to the ligament or tendon), consult your doctor for proper treatment as torn ligaments and tendons take longer time to heal due to poor blood supply to these types of tissues.

It is important, during the recovery period, that the patient be active using an alternative fitness program that does not worsen the original injury. Ask your healthcare provider about these alternative fitness program.

Temperature Related Injuries

For heat cramps, rest and replacement of water and electrolytes; management of heat exhaustion include the treatment for heat cramps as well as elevating the feet and cooling the body with ice and cold towels; management for heat stroke includes the ones previously stated, plus immediate transfer to the hospital for prompt treatment.

Training for the Injured Runner

When symptoms are no longer felt (asymptomatic), graduated training program can be performed. For the first 2 weeks, the patient should do alternate walking and running every other day and on alternate days, other types of exercises can be substituted. Prior to walking or running, patient should do warm-up with calisthenics for low back and limbs and stretching exercises. Your healthcare provider (Physician or Physical Therapist) can provide you with a proper graduated training program.

Note: This information is not provided as basis for diagnosis for any particular condition but as a general guide to running injuries. Always consult your healthcare provider for any questions regarding your health.