Six weeks to train: Coach Ritchie provides game plan for fun run

April 2012 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, Sports, Your Health

By Steve RitchiePeople of all ages participate in Silverton\'s annual hospital fun run.

Nothing lasts forever, so even the long, dreary rainy season must come to an end sometime.

We know that, in Oregon, spring doesn’t always mean warm, sunny days, but the days are getting longer and gradually warmer.

So, take heart, get off the couch, lace up the running shoes and get out the door. Once you’ve done that, the rest is relatively easy!

The next thing is to make a date – with an upcoming race, that is.

Nothing is more motivating than signing up for a race that is a few weeks, or even a few months, away.

The pressure of getting in shape for that race is something that a lot of us need to exorcise the rain and darkness-induced winter lethargy.

I tried that technique in early February, signing up for the 6.5 mile Buck Mountain Trail Run on March 22, and it worked.

I knew that would be a very challenging run for me because the distance is a bit longer than my comfort zone. The thought of running 6.5 miles on muddy, snowy and hilly trails at Silver Falls State Park pushed me in February and March to stretch my longer runs out to an hour or more on the weekends.

My goal was simply to finish the race and not to walk too much, but that still served to motivate me to step up my training.

Other local race opportunities are looming on the horizon, with the Silverton Health Fun Run coming up on Mother’s Day weekend in May, and the Silver Falls Challenge Trail Run on June 2. Sign up and you will have extra motivation to hit the road, trail, track or treadmill. If you can, find a family member or friend who will not only do the race with you, but also train with you. A running partner is another great way to ensure you stay consistent and committed.

Silverton Health Fun Run
Saturday, May 12
6:45- 7:45 a.m. late registration;
8 a.m. Kids 1-mile race;
8:45 a.m. 5K walk/run.
Silverton Hospital, 342 Fairview St.
Advance registration $15 with
T-shirt/$10 without.
Race day registration:
$20 with/$15 without

The hospital fun run is a good one to start with, since you will see loads of folks you know, the pre and post race atmosphere is upbeat and fun, and the 5K (3.1 mile) course is pretty gentle – only one hill and it’s at the end of the race.

OK, so now you are committed to run or walk the fun run on May 12! How much training time do you need to get into shape to have a good race?

I would say six weeks is the perfect amount of time to get ready, even if you haven’t been regularly exercising. My advice is to always start off your training “easy.”  Trying to do too much too fast will only increase your chance of injury.

So, for the first two weeks, try to get in a run (or a walk, if that is your goal) at least four times a week. Aspiring runners might start with 20-25 minutes at an easy pace. If you can’t make it that long without stopping, don’t worry. Just alternate running with short periods of walking until you can run at least 25-30 minutes without stopping.

Once you have achieved this level of fitness after 2-3 weeks, you can begin to diversify your workouts. You should try to do a longer run at an easy pace once a week. So if you are used to running 25 minutes, try to go 35-40 minutes once a week. Or if you use miles instead of minutes, add one or two miles to your normal run. You can use the same approach with walking.

Another possibility would be to do one workout per week on the track doing “speed work.” Again, what “speed” means will be vary from person to person, depending on age, experience and current fitness level. A good general rule of thumb would be to run six to eight 400s (one lap on the track) at a pace slightly faster than you run on your normal days.

For example, if you usually run a 10-minute mile that equates to 2:30 per lap. By increasing your pace to, say, 2:15 per lap, with a two to three minute rest in between each 400, you will help your body gradually adapt to a faster pace.

Along with getting your training in on a consistent basis, you want to make sure to stay healthy. A few guidelines to follow are:

– Make sure you have shoes that fit you well and have good cushioning;

– Don’t overdo and take rest days as needed;

– Warm up before and do some simple stretches after your workout;

– Hydrate properly by drinking eight glasses of water during the day.

Get committed to a race and a training partner. Remember, consistency is more important than intensity as you begin.

Six weeks to go. You can do it.

Steve Ritchie coaches cross country and track  at Kennedy High , and has directed the  Homer’s Classic 8K for the past 14 years.

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