Take it to the next level: Training schedule to gait the River Run

Spinnaker

In the next two months you will probably scarf down those holiday meals until your stomach nearly bursts and drink from dawn to dusk cheering in the new year; then comes the regret. Why not start the new year off with a little something that’s good for you?

Jacksonville will host the biggest 15k in the U.S., the Gate River Run, March 12. This will be the 34th race, which attracts thousands of runners from around the country. They come to challenge themselves mentally and physically by running 9.3 miles up and over two bridges and past lines of screaming fans.

Whether you’re already an avid runner, or you’re winded after rushing to class, there is plenty of time to get in tiptop shape for the race.

Megan Savage, a UNF early childhood education senior, never ran more than two miles in her life when she decided to step up her game and train for the 2010 race.

“My friend Jessie convinced me that it was going to be easy,” Savage said. “It was definitely not easy.”

Although running nine miles isn’t an easy feat for many, Savage and her friend finished the race in one hour and 42 minutes, just under their hour and 45 minute goal and did not stop to walk once.

“It was so hard,” Savage said, “but we did it.”

In the beginning she ran three miles a few times a week and would increase her mileage until she could run seven miles without stopping. She stayed motivated by training for, and then running, the race with a friend.

Running with a partner or a group of people is a great way to get and stay motivated. Gregory Spelios, president of the UNF Endurance Club and civil engineering junior, started the club to do just that: motivate.

“The club is used to help people work toward their running goal,” Spelios said. “We push each other and help each other increase endurance.”

Spelios said while the club is still new and has only had a few meetings, it is trying to expand. Usually about four students come out to run together Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. They run an average of four to five miles on and around campus.

Where to start
Training should start 8 to 10 weeks prior to the race and should gradually increase in mileage as time passes.

“If you have not run before don’t focus on your speed right away,” Spelios said. “Start running at a pace where you can talk to the person next to you and still maintain a steady breath.”

Running on pavement can take a toll on muscles, joints and even bones, so if you find yourself too sore after a run one day, be sure to rest the following day and allow your muscles to rebuild themselves.

“A great way to avoid next-day soreness is to stretch before and after your runs,” Spelios said. “And if you’re like me, you may want to run every day, but if you don’t let your body rest, you could actually lose muscle mass.”

What to eat
Vamping up your exercise routine calls for a change in diet. Helen Sollee, a UNF nutrition graduate, suggests incorporating good fats, carbohydrates and protein and hydrating your body well for more successful runs.

“After your runs, make sure you replenish your body in the hour time frame so you can restore your body,” Sollee said. “Exercise is a good stress on the body, but it is a stress on the body that needs to be restored with good fuel.”

She said it is important to remember to always eat breakfast in the morning before a run.

“[When you wake up], your body has been in a fasting state for quite some time so you need to fuel the body,” Sollee said. “Especially since the muscles will be working, and they need energy for that run.”

Sollee said for breakfast, you will want to stick with options like fruit, a bagel with peanut butter, oatmeal or eggs.

For lunch, she suggests a turkey sandwich, rice, tuna fish or small salads filled with fresh veggies.

When it comes to dinner, Sollee said always include carbohydrates, which give you energy, and proteins, which help restore your muscles. Eating foods such as skinless chicken, rice, potatoes, pasta and milk are sure to give you energy and fuel while running.

She also suggests snacking between meals on things such as mixed nuts, raisins, pretzels, yogurt or goldfish to replenish the body for optimum performances.

Maybe you’re not quite ready to make the commitment, or maybe your eager to hit the road running. Either way, you’ve got one month to psyche yourself up for this beast, training starts Jan. 4. On your mark, get set, go!

The upcoming Gate River Run costs $30 to register before Jan. 1 and $45 the day of the race.

Lace up in style

The most important piece of running equipment is a good pair of shoes. Some companies, like 1st Place Sports, custom-fit pairs perfect for your speed, foot width and comfort level. But only if you are willing to shell out some serious dough. While all feet are different, there are sneakers on the market that will suit most needs at an affordable price. Dick’s Sporting Goods shoe sales associate Brandon Smith recommends three pairs of kicks for around $100. If you aren’t too naughty, maybe Santa will drop a pair in your stocking.

Asics – 2150 ($94.5)
This shoe has a silicon gel sole that runs from the heel to the forefoot, which offers stability and firm cushion support. Colors: pink, blue, purple, red and black.

Brooks – Adrenaline ($99.99)
This is the No. 1 choice running shoe, according to Spelios. It offers the best stability, support and cushion, allowing for optimum performance. Colors: pink, blue, purple, green and black.

Mizuno – Wave Rider 13 ($99.99)
The appeal of this shoe is that it is lightweight, so your speed can increase. They are also made with Air Mesh fabric, so if they were to get wet, they will dry quickly. They offer good stability and support. Colors: red, blue and black.

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