When taking up a fitness regimen like running, it’s best to get started on the right foot. Adam Norman, an athletic trainer who works for Southeast Georgia Health System, and runners Marielle Volland and Martin Smith, have advice for those new to the sport. Because of the new year, many people have resolved to get fit, and running is a popular option. It also doesn’t hurt that there are a plethora of road races scheduled throughout the year in the Golden Isles. The next one is The Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation Bridge Run, which is Feb. 15 on the Sidney Lanier Bridge, in Brunswick.
Norman said the foremost thing to consider is hydration.
“Keeping the body hydrated is an essential component to jogging goals,” he said. “Water, sports drinks and Biolyte are all valuable assets to keep one hydrated, and mixing it up will help provide the proper amount of electrolytes, potassium and sodium needed for excellent performance.”
He also recommended researching what nutritional aspects each individual’s body requires – carbohydrates, proteins, macronutrients, essential amino acids and other nutritional components – to help the body maintain the proper balance for excellent performance.
“It is best to research the different components geared toward your goals because every body and every person may require different techniques to achieve their own personal goals and greatness,” Norman said.
Aspiring runners and joggers have to pace themselves and should focus on achieving short-term goals while building toward the long-term. Norman recommends attacking running or jogging in small doses. He suggests running the turns of a track and walking the long stretches, and progressing to running the long stretches and walking the turns, which will allow the body to build up to the level of endurance being asked of it. In time, runners can run one lap, and walk the next three, and so on.
“Everyone can do this, and everyone can succeed with the right doses of preparation,” Norman said.
Warming up prior to a run and cooling down afterwards are of primary importance. Norman suggests doing combined static (stationary) and dynamic (moving) stretching for warming up. The hip flexors, groins, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and even the shoulders should all be stretched to prevent injury. Dynamic stretching is a bit more complex because of the range of exercises available. Norman said looking them up and finding something that works is a good idea.
“When cooling down, just take a light walk around the course,” he said. “Lower that heart rate and get control of your body again by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Then, doing some static stretching after the run with that same muscle group can prevent soreness, tightness, and prevent injury, allowing you to keep working toward your short- and long-term goals.”
Norman said a regular running or jogging routine can be a positive thing for the overall health of an individual, including helping achieve lower blood pressure, decreasing cholesterol levels, increasing energy, building healthier hearts and lungs, increasing muscle mass and maintaining an optimal body fat composition. It also helps prevent certain diseases, like Type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cardiac maladies.
“Mostly, it can improve the overall morale of an individual, which could be a valuable asset in all aspects of work, life and fitness goals,” Norman said.
St. Simons Island resident Marielle Volland is a member of Golden Isles Endurance, a group that embraces different types of endurance sports, including running.
“I’ve been running steadily for about six years, but have increased my distance in the last three, tackling more 15Ks and half-marathons,” she said. “I’m a huge believer in functional fitness, and incorporating running with my weightlifting is a great example of that.”
Volland runs an average of 12-15 miles each week.
The terrain in the Golden Isles has little to no variation in its elevation, and then there’s the humidity. Both actually give local runners an edge when they race in other locales.
“Flat terrain offers our runners an opportunity to work on their speed,” she said. “While training in the humid climate gives us an advantage in those cooler climate races because our bodies have been conditioned to run in the extremes.”
Volland enjoys participating in local road races.
“Over the course of the years, I’ve participated in practically all of them,” she said. “My first race ever was the SGHS Bridge Run in 2009.”
I’ve enjoyed watching the running community grow and more races evolving in our area because of it. From the school fundraising races like the Cool Shark, Super Dolphin and UTO to community favorites like the Sunshine, Turtle Crawl and the Jekyll Island Marathon.”
Volland warms up prior to running by doing an active stretch to benefit her hamstrings and hip flexors.
And, as clothes make the man, shoes make the runner.
“Shoes can make or break you,” Volland said. “Invest your time and research the best shoe fitted for your particular use and foot characteristics.”
Endurance and overall body health are the biggest benefits Volland has received from running.
And, she has a piece of advice for those contemplating hitting the streets.
“It’s more mental than physical,” she said. “Grab a friend, put on a headset. Start somewhere. You’re doing more in one mile than most do in a day, week, month or year. Keep moving.”
Martin Smith’s foray into running began Jan. 3, 2013.
“I took up the #EveryDayCounts challenge started by former Bulldog David Pollack,” he said. “That hashtag was all over Twitter at the time.”
Smith explained the challenge was to walk or run a mile every day.
“I could barely run a quarter-mile mile that day, but I finished the full mile running then walking,” he said. ‘I ran a mile each day until I couldn’t. At that point I was hooked.”
Smith runs 10-15 miles a week, depending on whether or not he’s training for an upcoming race.
He doesn’t give the flat terrain a second thought.
“Running has taught me how to take and work with what life brings,” he said. “Yes, the humidity can be oppressive, but you can still pull off a good run with the right prep and supplies.”
The abundant tree canopy on St.Simons and Jekyll islands, he said, provides one of the biggest advantages of running locally.
“It allows you to run year round,” Smith said. “The increasing availability of sidewalks is also a great advantages. Hopefully, one day soon we’ll be able to run from St. Simons to Jekyll on a paved pathway.”
Smith’s favorite local race is the Jingle All the Way run for CASA. He also likes school-related 5Ks, including Night Flight, Super Dolphin Run and Cool Shark.
“I think one of the funnest local races is the Girls on the Run Trail Run at Blythe Island Park,” he said.
Like Volland, Smith says warm-ups and cool downs are a necessity.
“My warm-up routine consists mostly of calf stretching movements and warrior poses,” he said. “My cool down includes those exercises and use of a foam roller on my quads and hips to release muscle tightness.:
He has some sage advice for new runners.
“Get some good shoes that fit well,” he said. “Run. And then run some more. Sign up for a race that benefits a local charity and run the race at your own definition of fast.”
Smith has run 3,035 miles, including 19 half-marathons, since Jan. 3, 2013. He said he has enjoyed the challenges and opportunities the sport has brought his way, and his health has improved.
“I sleep better at night, and feel better walking around in this slightly better-than-50-year-old body,” he said.
Running however, has brought other immeasurable benefits.
“ … Clearly, the biggest benefit of running is the community of friends that have come into my life,” Smith said. “We encourage each other to keep running. But these friends show up in other areas of my life in so many other huge ways. We support each other through whatever tough stuff life throws our way.”