Ask the Trainer – Avoiding Injury and Maximizing on Your Running and Walking Fitness Program

Richard Pine is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, has been with Metro Run and Walk since 2004, and currently coaches the MRW Training Programs.

Richard Pine is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, has been with Metro Run and Walk since 2004, and currently coaches the MRW Training Programs.

When summer comes to mind, most people think of summer holidays, sun-drenched beaches, sipping ice-cold lemonade, and kicking back. When I think of summer, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Let’s start training!”

With the weather warming up and those endless summer days ahead of us, this is the perfect season to jump start a new fitness program, train up for your first 5k or marathon, dive into that new sport that you’ve always wanted to try out, and raid the farmer’s markets for that healthy nutrition, all while looking good at the beach and poolside at the same time.

There are 3 top reasons why the summer is a perfect time to start:

1. No excuses!

Though the summer can be busy, life is usually a little less hectic. Take advantage of the down time and make fitness a priority. For those fair-weather exercisers, summer brings more sunshine, longer days, and warmer weather, all of which makes it easier to get out and get going. Load up on fresh produce, specifically paying attention to the brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Make healthy nutrition a lifestyle.

2. Race events (5Ks, marathons, triathlons, etc.)

The Spring, Summer and Fall seasons are typically chock-full of events so that there is something for everyone regardless of your fitness level. Sign-up for an event, recruit some friends, and start training. If you’re already signed up, now is the time to start getting ready!

3. Who doesn’t want to look good at the beach?!

Enough said!

How to …

Having said that, there is “training” and then there is training. The former involves performing the bare minimum with the hopes of instant results and the goal of simply looking hot at the beach. The latter involves diligently integrating fitness into your lifestyle with the result of being stronger, healthier, and injury-free! Here are several ideas of what you can do to safely structure your program in order to maximize on your workout.

  1. Ready, Set, Go! If you are beginning a walking/running program for the very first time, the most effective thing you can do is to simply put on your shoes, get out the door, and start walking and exercising on a consistent basis. Start out at every other day, 2-3 times per week, for at least 20-30mins at a time.
  2. Interval training. Once you have been walking and would like to move from walking into running, slowly transition into a run/walk program such that you run for a while and then walk for a while. To start off with, this may be running for 30 seconds and walking for 2 minutes. Be sure to do this at least 2-3 times per week for about 30 minutes at a time. After about 2 weeks at a given interval, adjust incrementally (i.e. 30 seconds running/1-2 minutes walking for 30-45 mins.) and maintain for another 2 weeks as your fitness continues to increase. The key is to adjust your intervals slowly and subsequently being consistent with your workouts, which will give both your muscles and your aerobic capacity time to strengthen and increase without getting yourself injured.
  3. Too much too soon. This is a recipe for getting injured. Too many people want results yesterday, which typically do not work out well. Regardless of whether you were a stellar athlete a year ago, are just starting out, or have been the rare few disciplined to exercise through the months of ice and snow, listen to your body and slowly increase the time and intensity of your workouts as it takes time for your body to adjust to the new stress without getting injured. Being injured simply means taking several steps backward or taking longer to reach your goal – not worth it.
  4. Cross training. Cross training has several different benefits. Doing a variety of activities gives you a break from the monotony of walking and running all the time. Varying your workouts will strengthen other muscles that may not necessarily get worked and help to prevent injury. Cross training will also build and tone muscles that not only make you look stronger and leaner but will also make you a stronger athlete, facilitate weight loss as adding muscle burns more calories on a daily basis, and enhance your overall fitness.
  5. Rest up. Be sure to get your sleep as rest allows the body to rebuild and take care of itself. Not only does this help eliminate droopy eyes, but it also enhances your overall mental and physical well being, allows the body to recover from your exercise routine, and helps to regulate weight.
  6. Eat, Drink, and be Merry! That is, eat lots of dark leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains with little sodium, saturated fats and oils, processed foods, refined sugars, and empty calories. In addition, drink los of water with little of everything else. The “Merry” is an automatic result. Simple, right?!
    Farmers Market Haul - Reds, Greens, and Blues!

    Farmers Market - Reds, Greens, and Blues!

Enjoy the sunshine, ice-cold lemonades, and cheers to training!

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