By Jed Hummel, fitness guide, Tamarac, The Center for Health and Well-Being
The Spectrum Health Irish Jig marks the beginning of the racing season for many runners. It is one of the premiere road races in Michigan and is a great event for first-timers and seasoned road racers alike. If you are thinking about running the Irish Jig or another spring race, it is important to train throughout the winter in order to have success in the spring. Below I will address how to begin a running program and what it takes to be successful training throughout the winter months in the great state of Michigan.
If you have not been recently, the first steps you take in your running journey should be into your doctor’s office. It is important to get the green light to exercise from your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
The second steps you should take in your running journey are into a specialty running store. Expert staff at running stores like Striders can help you determine which shoes are best for you and your running. For more information on running shoes and how to find the ones for you, refer to my article on running shoes.
The third steps you should take are running steps. However, you may find that you are walking much more than you are running and that is perfectly fine. Most people will start out by running for 30-60 seconds and then recovering for 60-90 seconds or even longer. The key is to slowly increase your running time and decrease your walking recovery time until you are running most or all of the time. To decrease your chance of injury, try not to increase total time running or distance run by more than ten percent from one week to the next.
Winter can make running more difficult and less appealing than normal. It doesn’t have to be that way though! Having the right clothing and equipment can make winter running enjoyable or at the very least tolerable.
Clothing can make all of the difference in the winter. You want something that will block the wind and also retain some body heat, but isn’t so warm that you are sweating excessively. It is easier to overdress in the winter than you would think! The general rule to follow is that you want to dress for conditions roughly twenty degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the current temperature. You might be a little cold at first, but you will warm up quickly as you start running.
It is also important to have some type of light or reflective gear if running in the dark. There are a ton of options available to runners to help them see and be seen in the dark months of winter.
As far as footwear goes, there are some options for those of you that get cold feet. Some shoe companies have winterized running shoes that are waterproof and have more aggressive tread than the average running shoe. There are also running specific grips that strap onto the bottom of your shoes. For more information about winter running gear, stop by your local running specialty store!
Now that you are prepped and excited to run, get out and enjoy our great state in all of its winter splendor! You won’t regret it. Happy winter running to all!
Jed earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Grand Valley State University and his master’s degree in exercise science from Oakland University. He completed a cardiac rehabilitation internship at Beaumont Hospital and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a clinical exercise specialist. He is an avid runner and enjoys coaching beginner to advanced runners.