When it comes to running and walking, Greater Peoria is one of the strongest and most vibrant communities in the United States. Not only do we have plenty of great running trails and parks, but our community has a longstanding history of hosting major running events like the IHSA Cross-Country State Championship at Detweiller Park, the world-famous Steamboat Classic and the Whiskeydaddle Races, as well as plenty of fun runs throughout the year.
But running doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so here are some tips to help you safely get started in your fitness adventure.
Prehab, Not Rehab
Before starting any exercise program, you need to make your muscles elastic to prevent injuries that can cause pain in your feet, knees, hips and lower back. Rolling your muscles with a massage roller will create more elasticity and flexibility. There are a ton of videos online that demonstrate the proper way to roll your muscles. (Visit rcoutfitter.com for a number of tutorial videos.)
Build Core Strength
A strong core is key to good posture and running, but it doesn’t require a six-pack. True core strength is gained by working much smaller muscles within the abdominal and pelvic region that the world never sees. Pilates and yoga are great ways to build core strength and muscle elasticity, helping you stay healthy and injury-free.
Find Your Tribe
Joining a running group is beneficial for a number of reasons. First, it helps with accountability. Sometimes the hardest part of exercising is just getting started, but when you know there are people waiting for you, it makes the first step much easier. Second, running and walking in groups is more enjoyable. It’s hard to put a price tag on the conversations and social interactions that are shared with training partners. Some of my fondest running memories are not from the run itself, but from the laughter shared with friends. The beauty of our community is that we have a litany of free running groups and paid training programs to choose from!
Get the Right Gear
Before walking or running, it’s important to get properly fit for shoes. Your foot is like the rim on a car, and your shoe is the tire that fits the rim. We know intuitively that the tires on our cars are fit to the rims, and if not fit properly, our vehicles won’t get out of the driveway. But when it comes to running shoes, many people pick a style they like and buy without even trying them on. That is a good way to end up with an injury. Be nice to your feet—and get fit by a footwear specialist.
Let 2019 be your year to get in shape… and have fun doing it! PM
Adam White is co-owner of RC Outfitters and ShaZam Racing. He has been running for 30 years and is committed to community health and wellness.