After completing Princess Training Steps 1 and 2, you are no doubt wearing the perfect pair of running shoes, and have chosen the ideal training program. What's next? Where do you take your rubber to the road?? It may surprise you, but when asked this next question I typically tell my patients who are beginner runners to hit the neighborhood track. There's a reason you've been paying your local school district tax! Though you may be visualizing the London Olympics in your head (of course the Greeks introduced us to the Olympic track in 776 B.C.), there will most likely not be blocks or starter guns in your future.
But hopefully a local track will. The reasons to begin here are many:
- The synthetic materials used to fabricate today's tracks (rubber, latex and polyurethane) are kinder on your joints and soft tissues than concrete.
- There are few variables (other than wind and weather) that you will have to overcome on this mostly-level surface; allowing you to concentrate on your training, and thus removing the chance of injury (such as twisting your ankle coming off a curb or pothole, or outrunning cars). When starting out, please limit variables and the unknown, and value consistency. Even modest inclines and hills can stress your body more than you realize. (And there is no fear of getting lost, or running too far and then having to walk home...)
- It is the perfect place for veteran runners to perfect their pace and form.
- Exercising outside provides the added bonuses of Vitamin D, light therapy and other mood boosting benefits. There is positive reinforcement from nature!
- Provides a simple way to "track" your mileage and pace. Each outdoor track is a quarter mile oval (or 400 meters, to be exact). Indoor tracks are far more variable. If you are using a run-walk interval program, it is SO simple to run the straight-aways, and walk the curves.
- Because of wind resistance and possibly temperature extremes, your body will burn more calories outdoors versus indoors.
- Bio-mechanically, it will prepare you for your first race more accurately than a treadmill will.
If you have a history of running injuries, (or want to avoid them), listen to my Top PT Tip for track running...
Alternate counterclockwise and clockwise laps to compensate for the slope of the track.
Please return next week for another Top PT Tip- Treadmill Running. Until then,
"You can run. You can run. You can run."
Have you missed a step in your Train Like a Princess transformation?
Step 1~ Does the Shoe Fit?
Step 2~ Run-Walk-Run or Couch-to-5K
Step 3~ Get on Track!
Step 4~ Treadmill or Dreadmill?
Step 5~ Happy Trails
ABOUT DIDI MARIE
A longstanding (code for elder) physical therapist to professional athletes and weekend warriors on both coasts, Didi is a graduate of New York University. After over 30 years in sports medicine practice, she has decided to finally practice what she has preached by running her first half marathon at age 53. Didi therefore knows every excuse in the book...
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