Put a little "spring" in your step

Whether it's a half mile or three miles, running can be a great source of exercise and a simple way to stay fit. Runn
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Whether it's a half mile or three miles, running can be a great source of exercise and a simple way to stay fit.

Running is an effective form of aerobic exercise, said Del Culver, cross country coach of Port Clinton High School and avid runner. He enjoys running for its physical and stress-relieving benefits.

But before runners attack the asphalt they should make sure they don't overreach. Soreness after running can be a discouraging factor for recreational and even competitive runners, said Seth Benner, track and field coach for Port Clinton High School.

"The biggest mistake people make is they'll do too much too quickly and they'll get sore," Benner said. "It'll discourage them from doing it again."

"Let your body dictate and let you know how you feel," Culver added. "Start slow, gradually increase. It's very important to know that it's going to take a week or two for that soreness to go away."

Staying in shape can be a process that takes patience and time.

"You don't get in shape overnight and you don't get out of shape overnight," Benner said.

For people who want to run to get in shape, time of day should not be a limitation.

"The best time to run is whatever fits your schedule best," Benner said. "Some people can't get out of bed in the morning. It's just personal preference."

Above all, make sure you prepare your body for the strain of running.

Culver cautions runners should properly hydrated no matter what time of day they run, but especially in the middle of the day when it is hottest.

To keep energized, Culver suggests maintaining a well-balanced diet and avoid eating a full meal before exercising.

"Just have a snack," Culver said. "Don't eat a full five-course meal."

Carbohydrates found in bread and cereal can be a great source of energy before a run, Benner said.

To prevent injury, runners should stretch all leg muscles -- calves, hamstrings and quadriceps. Shoulders should be stretched adequately since the arms move with every stride taken. Active warm-ups, any ballistic activity that raises one's body temperature, is also an effective way to prevent injury before running, Benner said.