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STEPHANIE OAKES

Getting Beginners Off on the Right Foot

March 12, 2001|STEPHANIE OAKES

Question: The Los Angeles Marathon has inspired me to run. Although I won't be running a marathon any time soon, do you have any advice for beginners?

--Les, Long Beach

Answer: No need to run a marathon right away. Just enjoy the benefits running can provide for your health and fitness. Get your running program started with the following tips.

* Find a running group or running partner for motivation.

* Get a good pair of running shoes. Be sure to try on several brands and styles to find the best fit. (With running shoes, you usually get what you pay for, so you might need to splurge.)

* Stay hydrated. Drink tons of water before and after your runs.

* Stretch. I recommend stretching for at least 15 minutes before and after working out. Be sure to hold the stretches for at least 15 seconds, and don't bounce. Calves, hamstrings and quads are particularly important.

* Find a trail or some grass to run on (cement is hard on the body).

* Cross-train to avoid injuries.

* Don't overtrain. It's easy to believe that the more you train, the better you'll perform. That simply isn't the case. Listen to your body; it'll usually tell you when you're overdoing it.

* Stay away from fast food. Your body will perform much better when you fuel it well.

* Protect yourself with sun block and a hat while running outside--even when it's cloudy.

*

Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. To submit a fitness-related question, e-mail stephoakes@aol.com. She cannot respond to every query.

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