Get a running start on New Year's resolutions
By Jonathan Lyau
Special to The Advertiser
By Jonathan Lyau
Less than a week into 2007, it's time to put those New Year resolutions into action. They may include becoming healthier through exercising, and many will choose running as their form of exercise.
Going through with your resolution can pay off big time. David Low, 44, was morbidly obese at 225 pounds a few years ago.
"Now I'm in great shape, lost 75 pounds, regained my high school weight, and found a beautiful girlfriend," said Low, who ran this year's Boston Marathon.
Low has also combined swimming and biking along with weight training to maintain his weight.
Running is one of the more simple sports, but there are initial questions such as how much to run and how to progress.
Starting to run is always hard. Jacquelyn Kim, 32, began running when she lived in New York eight years ago.
"Getting in shape is always difficult," said the Sacred Hearts Academy teacher. "My very first run was just to the park and back, probably not even a mile. I took baby steps."
BEWARE OF INJURIES
It is also a time when setbacks can occur. Arlene Emerson, 51, had an injury setback that is common.
"I started to have pain in my foot and later in my knees and hips," said Emerson, who began running 16 years ago.
A good pair of running shoes is the first step. Proper shoes will protect you and lessen the risk of injury.
An expensive shoe or the most cushioned shoe does not necessarily mean that it is a good shoe. Each of us has our own unique stride, foot plant and foot roll. Go to a running specialty store and have them help you select a shoe. These experts can fit you in the proper shoe. Bring an old pair of shoes so that they can get an idea of your wear pattern.
A safe way to get started is to run/walk by alternating intervals of running with walking. For instance, you can run a minute followed by a minute of walking and do 10 sets of this. This will ease your joint muscles into the sudden stress and pounding of running. You will be able to recover and rebuild quicker and have less chance of getting injured.
Your pace should feel easy. If it feels too exhaustive, then include longer walking breaks. Everyone adapts to exercise at a different rate. Eventually you will be able to run more with less walking.
If you are already fit, but new to running, you still need to start off easily. Cardiovascularly, you may be fine, but your body will still need to get used to the constant pounding and stress. Begin a program where you are running only 20 to 30 minutes at a time. As your body adapts, then you can add on to the duration of your run and increase your pace.
Once you get into a running routine, staying motivated is the next step.
Initially, motivation comes when positive benefits are realized.
Gary Augustin, 56, began running again after becoming overweight and developing high cholesterol in the years after his college track career finished.
"Since 1994, I have had the flu only once and kept off the 30 pounds that I lost. I feel better when I run and also have had significantly fewer colds and viruses," said the ordained minister.
Ofa Peloso, 30, a former University of Southern California hammer thrower, began running after college to trim down and look less bulky.
"When I saw my former throwing coach last year, he didn't even recognize me," said Peloso, who lost more than 30 pounds and just finished her second Honolulu Marathon.
Setting a goal helps, especially after the initial positive gains begin leveling off.
An excellent way is to enter various timed running events and see how much you can improve on your pace. Knowing that you are entered in an event will make it easier for you to make a commitment to your training.
Kane Ng-Osorio, 31, has found that participating in road races fuels his passion for running.
"I stay hungry by trying to improve and run faster by competing and trying to beat my training partners or others that I see at races," said the Reyn's internet store manager. "I love to battle with others out there."
RUN WITH A GROUP
Another way to stay motivated and make it fun is to run with a group. Knowing that people will be there makes it easier. It can be a group of friends or you can even ask those you normally see on your running routes if you can join them.
"I make it a point to run with friends and groups as much as possible to make running a social event as well as a personal event," said Waimanalo resident, Timothy Noonan, 37.
There are also more formal running groups that you can join, and some are even free. By joining a group, you are almost assured of finding someone with similar goals as you and who is at your ability level.
Because of his inexperience and inconsistency in running, Mike Kasamoto, 57, decided to look for a group that would teach him how to train properly.
"In 2004, I joined a running clinic to train for the Great Aloha Run," said Kasamoto, a structural engineer. "Then in the summer, I joined (the) Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training to train for the 2004 Honolulu Marathon. At these clinics, I learned the art of running, and I met some great people as well. These training groups were such positive experiences and improved my running skills."
Another step toward maintaining a consistent running routine is to get rid of all the reasons of why you can't do it.
One of the reasons people quit is that life begins to get busy and the first thing that they cut back on is exercise. Running only 20 to 40 minutes three or four times per week can reap positive benefits, so time should not become a big issue.
You can squeeze in a workout on a busy schedule by running before work or during your lunch hour. If you run after work, do not go home — bring your shoes and clothing to work. That way, you will not have the temptation to get "lazy" and skip your run.