Written by: Suzanne Blakeney, PT, DPT at EXOS @ Raleigh Orthopaedic
Racing season for running is coming soon, and maybe you’re one of the over 18 million Americans training for an exciting event! Maybe one of your new year’s resolutions is finally doing that race you’ve always thought about, maybe you’re just looking to get back into shape, or maybe this is your year to finally beat the personal record you’ve set up for yourself. Be it a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, full marathon, or any assortment of “fun runs” or obstacle races, you are not alone in running after a goal.
It’s no wonder that running is gaining popularity; it’s very accessible and inexpensive to begin, and to top that off, the running community is very diverse and welcoming, making it a very communal sport if you want it to be. As running picks up momentum, the nature of the sport is changing as well, with fun runs, color runs, and obstacle courses helping to keep runners focused on the fun side of running; rather than pounding the pavement mile after mile.
People of all ages and all fitness levels are flocking to the sport. There is a lot of information out there for newbies—a myriad of online training programs, running clubs, self help books, and magazines. One of the more popular training methods are the running groups and clubs that can be found all over the city of Raleigh. These usually meet several times a week from a given location, sometimes a gym or even a pub, and they organize runs with different pace groups, different distances, and different routes. These are excellent for the camaraderie and motivation they provide, as well they make a helpful distraction if boredom is what you’re worried about. If you are worried about holding your group up or appearing “slow,” you can find online couch-to-whatever distance-you-want programs that come with an entire online support community. These groups and communities are excellent and low cost ways to find accountability and a reasonable amount of expertise to help you on your runs, plus, you’ll make new friends.
As you embark on a new training routine, be aware that everyone has different training needs and goals. You may have the expectation that you can start running at the same pace and distance as someone who’s been doing it awhile. The popular emphasis on progress, progress, progress sometimes leaves you little time for recovery or personalization at a slower (or faster) pace. So what should you do? Listen to your body and make sure that you are recovering appropriately. Monitor your runs and your rest days for signs of fatigue, pain, or discomfort. If you are in doubt, give yourself time to rest and heal. It’s better to take a brief rest to stay healthy than put yourself out for an entire season with an injury.
If you’re thinking about starting a running program or changing your routine, feel free to speak to a fitness professional about your goals and how they relate to your own physical condition. Physical therapists are great in this role, as are physicians. You can rely on credible personal trainers and running coaches to give you the tailored program you need to avoid injury. At our performance centers we offer free injury screens to help you determine your level of fitness and condition that will allow you to tailor your program to your specific needs. You can also always follow up with your physician before you start out as well to get their expert and personalized medical advice. In short, make sure you are informed and personalize your training needs to keep yourself healthy and to enjoy your new hobby. Start right and you will be a happy runner for years to come!
About Suzanne Blakeney PT, DPT:
Suzanne Blakeney is a Sports Physical Therapist at EXOS @ Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic. She earned her doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2012, and has been with Raleigh Orthopaedic since 2013. Suzanne specializes in sports rehabilitation and training with a special interest in running, swimming, soccer, and hip injuries and has treated clientele for both chronic and acute injuries related to everyday life and sports.