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Ready… Set…

To you readers who have chosen to grace this blog with your presence a second time, hello again!  To the ones just stumbling onto this post, welcome!  I hope these words give you an effervescent energy that heavily motivates you to get out there and take a quick turn or two around the block.  I will be doing so shortly, after these thoughts are up for all to see.

Now that the blog has been introduced, we’re going to start running.  And the Chicago Tribune is going to tell us how.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the newspaper published a piece from one Sheryl Jean, a writer (and runner!) from California, about how to start running.  If you’ve been kicking up the cardio for a while, some of these tips might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re a novice to lacing up your Reeboks and pounding the pavement, then I suggest giving this article a read or two.  It’s like preparing for a test:  Even if you think it’s going to be a piece of cake, why would you expect to do well if you haven’t studied the course-related material?

Food for thought.

Jean’s writing covers everything from taking that first step to training for race day.  And at the very bottom, she lists five tips that I think are so incredibly important, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite.  It seems obvious to some that when you go out to run, you need a good pair of running shoes, or that you need to drink plenty of water and fuel your body correctly, but I think the tip that you might not think about all the time is the one that suggests you listen to your body.

Let me just say that I am one who can sometimes forget that my body is a machine (a usually well-oiled one, mind you) and that sometimes I push myself too hard.  Of course, I’ll never tell you that up front.  But yes, it happens.  For instance, I went out to run around my neighborhood earlier in the spring, late April or early May, and while I was taking the last hill up to the corner across from my apartment, my left knee gave out on me for just a second.  I didn’t think much of it (I didn’t feel any pain, so why stop?) so I pushed myself around the block for another shot at that final hill.

I would just like to say that I made it all the way around, that I didn’t die (otherwise, who would be writing this post?) nor did that mishap turn into an injury that required a lengthy amount of recuperation.  But there was always the chance that it could’ve been a whole lot worse, even with the little extra distance that I took after ignoring what my body was trying to tell me.

So, after that happened (much like after playing basketball for 15 minutes on a sprained ankle in the eighth grade…..but that’s a story for another time) I’ve been keeping tabs on myself, as far as bodily mechanics go.  If a muscle cramps up or if a joint gives out, I stop, even if I don’t want to.  Because pushing my body to its breaking point isn’t going to make me any better at what I’m trying to accomplish.  I’m not going to be able to run a 10k (much less train for one) if I try to push myself past the pain and blow out my knee.  Intentionally injuring myself isn’t going to help me in the long run.

And it won’t help you, either.  So if you’re just starting out with your new, springy running shoes and your skin-tight Under Armour pants, take it easy there, tiger.  You won’t become a Usain Bolt if you’re riddled with over-extended knees and shredded ligaments.  Listen to your body, build yourself up the healthy way, and go follow Sheryl Jean on Twitter to read some more of her work.  She’s got some good words of wisdom, people.

Happy Friday, everybody!

**Photo Credit to the author (Rachel Deming…myself!) for the old shoes.  🙂

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