Running a 5K race or a half or full marathon is a goal that some people set to accomplish in a certain year or an item they would like to cross off their bucket list. The fitness center at Piedmont Fayette Hospital has established a program for those who want to take the steps necessary to complete a race.
“Finishing a 5K is not impossible. Most people could walk or run one without any training, but our program can help someone run one more successfully,” said exercise physiologist Michelle Long. “Running a 5K is more enjoyable if you don’t have to work so hard.”
The program, which is free to all members of the fitness center, begins with baseline testing. After determining what each individual can handle, the trainers can tailor the workouts from there. Beginners may start with two days a week of mixing running and walking and one day of a consistent walk. Typically, there will be three days of this and two days of some strength training. Participants could do the strength training on the same days as the running and walking. At the end of each workout, each participant goes through a stretching program to keep the muscles flexible.
Long has run dozens of 5K races and a half marathon as well. Her best advice for training to run a race of any distance is to do it with a friend.
“It’s good to have someone beside you to talk with and support you,” Long said. “It just makes the experience more fun.”
Jennifer Kalen, a Nurse Practitioner at Piedmont Fayette, is a seasoned long-distance runner. She agrees that starting with a mix of running and walking is the best way to begin training. The run/walk is also a philosophy for running races that works extremely well for some people.
“If you are looking to run longer races, the best advice is to only increase the distance of your training by 10 percent a week,” Kalen said. “Running is very hard on the body and it is vital to go into races injury-free. That’s why strength training and working on mobility and flexibility are important aspects of your training as well.”
Running or walking can be very beneficial for a person’s fitness level and it seems that there is a race nearly every weekend in Fayette County. Both Kalen and Long suggest finding a race that looks appealing, mark it on the calendar and start training. The act of working toward this goal and crossing the finish line may be enough to get you hooked.
“Whether you pick a 5K at your neighborhood school, the Diva 5K and Half Marathon, or the Peachtree City Classic, you will see runners of all ages and abilities out there having fun,” said Kalen. “You should have fun too, that’s the most important part.”