Make a Run For It

There are many physical and psychological benefits, so put your best foot forward for 2011


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Lisa Senakiewich, assistant coach, men’s and women’s cross country & track, Michigan State University.

What tips can you provide for beginners?

Use your resources. If you know someone who already runs, ask him or her about how to get started. Check out training plans in books or via the Internet.

Keep it simple. A big mistake that beginning runners make is to complicate the process with training philosophies or gear and running gadgets.

Have fun. Like anything else in life, you should enjoy it. It doesn’t mean that you will exactly have fun running in snowstorm, although some people might. Overall, the entire process should be worthwhile.

If you’re just starting, how many miles should one attempt?

There’s no magic formula. Everyone’s different. Some people are involved in other sports or endurance activities like biking or swimming, for example. If someone is already athletic, he or she can easily be more aggressive. If the person has not been running, they’ll need to start off doing less. 

In the beginning, it’s really a trial-and-error process. How someone responds and feels to their current amount of running will determine where he or she can go next. It’s a good idea to start off with runs that are based on minutes versus mileage. It’s easier to manage a plan of running for 10 to 15 minutes every day or every other day than running 1.5 to 2 miles every other day, for example. It’s also more fulfilling to get through a goal time for the day rather than feeling defeated by running a certain pace. Also, from a training standpoint, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to add up a 10-to-15 mile week. It’s a better idea to wait to base training on mileage once the individual can get through 20-or-30 minute runs without stopping. However, if you feel that it would be more beneficial for you to start off with exact miles, then by all means go for it. It’s a part of finding out what you like best and feel the most comfortable with.

How should miles be increased?

For some it may be only two weeks; for others it may take three or four. Understand, though, that you can only increase to a certain point — more is not always better. In time, you will be able to identify a reasonable mileage goal, and once you hit that goal, the next step will be to maintain that amount of mileage and to increase the intensity or pace of each run.

What is the benefit you personally feel from running?

I get a lot of things out of running. It’s a daily activity that helps me sort out my day, relieve any stress, and at the same time generate ideas. When I don’t run, I feel like something is missing.

I also think there’s something special about being outside throughout the seasons that makes running even more rewarding. I’ve seen a lot of neat things because of this. I once went out for a long run at night in the middle of winter on some country dirt roads. It was one of the better runs I have ever been on because of how absolutely silent it was and the way the snow lit up the roads.

More than anything though, the people I’ve met because of running has been the most rewarding part of all. I’ve formed some important bonds through the sport that continue to inspire me on a daily basis. The running community is definitely special.

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