Volume 94, Issue 52

Thursday, November 30, 2000


Running for your life - Tips on how not to hit the wall

Mustangs try to spike McMaster - Volleyball men prepare for battle tonight

Two upcoming games you can't miss

Sports Briefs

Running for your life - Tips on how not to hit the wall

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

You see them everyday on the trip to school. Breathing hard and oblivious to the rest of the world. They are the few, the proud – the runners.

Running is perhaps one of the best ways to keep fit, but it's not always easy, and for beginners it can be very discouraging. According to Bob Vigars, Western's cross country head coach, for beginners it's especially important to start slow.

"It varies so much from individual to individual," Vigars said. "I wouldn't start with more than 15 minutes [for beginners]"

Vigars also pointed out that when running, improvement comes at a gradual pace and it could take up to eight weeks before a beginner sees results.

"You have to take it gradually. Take it easy on yourself, you have to leave the workout feeling that you can do more," he said.

Perhaps one of the more overlooked aspects of running is one of the most obvious – shoes.

Natasha Wesch, the head coach of Western's rugby team and a kinesiology instructor specializing in fitness training, pointed out the importance of proper footwear.

"Good shoes – that's the first thing. After that, it depends on where your base fitness level is at," she said. "Start off slow and if you want improvement, [run] three days a week at your target heart rate."

To calculate your target heart rate, the easiest method is to subtract your age from 220, she explained.

As captain of Western's field hockey team, Jenn Kicis plays a sport where running is a major part of the game. Kicis said she thought the best way to run should not be contrived, but to do what comes naturally.

"It's all unconscious, I'm not a disciplined runner, it's all natural," she said. "Start slow, work up – don't go all the way. Don't give your system a shock," she said.

Gazette File Photo

Treadmills versus running outdoors is also a matter of contention, as many people prefer one over the other.

"Treadmills provide a little more cushion than the pavement. [But] the intensity isn't as high as running outside," Wesch said as being the biggest differences between the two approaches.

Another important aspect of running, especially for beginners, is stretching, which is a very important part of any kind of cardiovascular exercise.

"Muscles have to be warm, that's when you need to stretch," Wesch said. "Start jogging easy, to increase your core temperature, then you can stop and stretch. Stretching [after your run] is something you must do."

From beginners to experienced runners, anyone who hits the pavement knows the inevitable pain felt during a run, one of the most common being the stitch cramp.

"Stitches are something we haven't really figured out. Even highly fit runners get stitches," Vigars said.

Kicis approached stitches as something to work through as she was running and not something that was not hard to overcome.

"I usually run through it – some people like to stretch it out," she said.

Wesch recommended that in the situation of a stitch, perhaps the best approach is to stretch the muscle out.

"Usually a stitch is a muscle cramp, basically stretch it out," she said.

For those still daunted by the task of going out in the cold and running the distance. Kicis was quick to give words of comfort for those willing to keep running.

"I think you get to a point where you're still working hard, but you don't feel it," she said.

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