Good Exercise, Great Cause, and a Cool Shirt

(January 2009) - Have you ever been downtown during one of the many road races held in Savannah? You may have noticed that all types of people take part in these events. They’re not just for hard-core athletes. You’ll see men, women, young, old, fit, and not-so-fit people. They participate because these types of events are fun, they’re usually for a great cause, and you typically get a t-shirt for taking part.

Let’s talk about the t-shirts for a minute. These shirts are sacred. If you walk around before or after a race, you see all kinds of shirts from previous events, and they’re always worn with pride. These shirts tell others that the wearer has participated in an event and helped out with a cause.

This spring, you can get one of the coolest race shirts available. Put April 18 on your calendar and sign up for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer. The race starts and ends in Telfair Square and winds through beautiful downtown Savannah. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure has changed the way the world views breast cancer. You can be part of this worthwhile event that celebrates survivorship, honors those who have lost their battle with cancer, and raises funds to help fight this deadly disease.

You don’t have to be a world-class runner (or even a good runner) to participate in the 5K event. Even if you’ve never jogged a step in your life, you can start training in January and be ready by April 18. Here are some tips to help you get started:

·Practice interval training (Galloway Method): If you are new to running, start by walking and add in small bouts of running or jogging. As your body acclimates to the running, shorten your walking intervals. Eventually, you will be running the entire time without the walking breaks. Always keep in mind that if you need to stop and walk, you can. To get started, go to Lake Mayer and walk the distance of two light poles, then run one light pole. Work up to running two light poles and walking one. Continue to work at it until you can run all the way around the lake without stopping. To learn more about the Galloway method of interval training, check out www.jeffgalloway.com.

·Join a running group: There are several groups around town that have varying skill levels, including Fleet Feet Sports and the Savannah Striders. This is a great way to make friends and stay motivated. People are less likely to quit an activity when they know that others are supporting them and expecting to see them at practice. FitnessOne at Memorial University Medical Center will lead several walking/running groups in preparation for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

·Proper equipment: Make sure that you invest in good running shoes. Go to a reputable dealer that can help you find the best road running shoe. Women should also invest in a good sports bra.

·Run safely: When running on the road, pay attention to what’s going on around you and run defensively. One research study shows that 73 percent of the accidents involving cars and runners are the fault of the runner, not the driver. Be alert and take responsibility for your own safety.

·Set personal goals: It doesn’t matter if your goal is to eventually run the Boston Marathon or to run three light poles at Lake Mayer. Just set a goal and work to achieve it.

·Pay attention to your intensity: Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. While running, you should be able to carry on a conversation with someone. If you are too out of breath to talk, you are training too hard.

·Stretch: Be sure to factor enough time into you workout for cooling down and stretching. Stretching is very important in injury prevention.

·Have fun: Have fun with running. Try different routes and courses. If it is fun and interesting, you are more likely to stick with your program.

Get started today and I’ll see you at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on April 18. We’ll earn our cool t-shirts together. I’d like to leave you with a final quote from running expert George Sheehan: “Life is a positive-sum game. Everyone from the gold medallist to the last finisher can rejoice in a personal victory.”
To register for the race, visit komencoastalgeorgia.org.

Khristine Hammond, M.S., CSCS*D, works at
FitnessOne at Memorial University Medical Center. A version of this article appeared in the January 6, 2009 issue of the Savannah Morning News.