Training key to healthy running

For a runner, nothing can beat the feel of the pavement under the feet, or the rush of crossing the finish line.

"They can't imagine a regular day to day life without that kind of stuff," said long time runner and Varsity Sports owner Jenni Peters.

Running and other strenuous exercises have long been touted as ways to improve overall health.

"It can help reduce blood pressure. It can help reduce cholesterol," explained cardiologist Dr. Lance LaMotte. "In diabetics it known to improve glucose control. It improves overall cardiac conditioning."
However, running does demand a lot from the body, and there are stories of long distance runners suffering serious injuries from torn or pulled muscles to potentially deadly heart problems.

"There have been some studies to show there can be some small microscopic [heart] damage that can occur in long distance running. So there is a lot of debate about how much is too much. I don't know that anyone has the answer," said LaMotte.

Peters has been a runner for 30 years.  She even coaches a running group, helping beginners reach their marathon goals safely and successfully.

"Where people run into trouble is being misguided and trying to do too much too quick," said Peters.

Doctors and long time runners like Peters both agree that proper training is about knowing your limits, and knowing the right way to overcome them.

"Running itself is stress adaptation. You stress your body with the thought that next time it has to face that same stressor it's a little stronger," said Peters.

It is important to start slow and gradually build up any endurance training.  Peters suggested seeking advice and guidance from experienced runners or a running group to get started.  LaMotte said that it is vital to get a physical exam from your doctor before starting any exercise program to prevent injury.

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