Healthy Living: Ironman wannabes, here's safe way to get started

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Seeing this weekend’s ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta triathlon competitors zipping past you might inspire thoughts on your own level of fitness. Whether you’re thinking about your first marathon, 5k race or just want a little extra exercise, beginning a running program is a rewarding endeavor, albeit quite daunting.

Before you lace up and head out on the trail, here are a few tips.

First, you need to decide what kind of program you’re thinking about starting. If you’re just looking to get in shape or battle some stress, a light jogging program is perfect. In this case, your running progression will depend on your current level of fitness. If you’ve been inactive for a long period of time, begin by walking. Progress your training to a walk/run combination before moving on to a full session of jogging.

By doing this, you’ll ease your muscles, joints and lungs back into fitness shape and avoid injury.

If you’re looking to hit a short to mid-size race, like a 5k or 10k, you need to structure your program more specifically to your event needs.

Again, you need to start slow, but you need to time your progression to your targeted race date. It’s dangerous to pick a competition too close to the start of your training. If you decide today to start training for a race that’s a week away, you’re setting yourself up for serious injury or failure. For the sake of your body and your personal finishing time, give yourself a couple months to work into proper shape.

For those ambitious few who want to go from zero to marathon, it takes a lot more planning. Please don’t think you can step onto the starting line with little or no training. That is an extremely dangerous move and will likely land you in the medical tent.

For those who don’t know, a marathon is 26.2 miles of running, up and down hills, usually on public roads, rain or shine. If you’re serious, begin moving a year before your race. Most marathon running programs backdate your training about six months before your race. These programs are widely found online or in running stores, but usually expect participants to already be in moderate running shape before beginning.

On the surface, it seems like there’s a lot to figure out before you first get on the treadmill, but a little planning can go a long way in preventing injury and enhancing your running experience.

For this week’s easy fit mini recipe, I’m going to suggest something a little different. Instead of a true recipe, I’m going to give my favorite carbohydrate-loading meal.

First, I take whole wheat spaghetti pasta and add plain sauce. I like to keep my sauce bland so that I can add my own spices: parsley, oregano, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper are what I throw in. Finally, I add turkey meatballs and enjoy. I eat this meal a day before any big race, thus ensuring a proper energy balance for my race.


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