If spending the afternoon exercising in a muggy gym isn't your ideal way of getting in shape while enjoying the spring weather, take it outside with a run.
Running is a great way to get fit both physically and mentally while savoring all of the joys spring has to offer. And for first-time runners, a local expert said there are some key benefits that will help jump-start your motivation.
“Probably one of the best things besides the physical aspect is just how you feel about yourself for doing it,” said owner Kris Hartner. “I’ve been running for 32 years, and to be honest, a lot of times it’s not that pleasurable. But it feels great when you’re done and you know you’ve done something good for yourself.”
As far as the physical incentives, Hartner said running increases metabolism, which aids in weight loss, tones muscle, lowers cholesterol, reduces heart risk and lowers stress.
But before you sign up for the Chicago Marathon, or even lace up those new Nike's, it’s a good idea to get a health checkup first.
“You definitely should always get a physical to make sure you’re good to go,” he said. “It does make a lot of sense to get one, especially if you’re going to be putting some extra stress on your body.”
Get a Running Buddy
Finding a group or class to run with can also increase the motivation factor. Chicago Area Runners Association is a non-profit group providing resources to runners of all levels including information on running meet-ups and training programs throughout the area.
Naperville Running Company also offers a “Walk 2 Run” program, which is held at their store in downtown Naperville and gives a hands-on approach for beginners, guiding them from the couch to completing a 5K. Hartner said having a professional available to give you tools can eliminate those first time jitters when it comes to running.
“It just gives you accountability and somebody that’s going to help you and educate you,” he said. “I think people get a lot more motivated that way.”
Classes for “Walk 2 Run” have already filled up for the spring, but the store also offers them in the fall. Hartner added that “a high percentage” of customers are beginners or recreational runners. One of those beginners, and Plainfield resident, Stephanie Venegas was trying on shoes at the store Wednesday afternoon.
She had done a little jogging here and there in the past, but she is excited to get out and enjoy the spring weather by running with her dogs.
“I’m also getting married next month,” Venegas said. “So I’m getting in shape for that.”
For beginners like Venegas the next step is actually finding a place to run and there’s no shortage of options in Naperville.
“We have 140 parks throughout Naperville totaling over 2,500 acres,” said Naperville Park District director Kevin Finnegan. “And we have many that have either paved trails, grass or chip trails.”
With more than 100 miles of trails, the is great place to get started with a running routine.
“One of our gems is our ," Finnegan said. "It has wonderful paths that go through the woods and are well over a mile long, you also see a lot of wild life.”
And once you're ready to conquer a 5K run there are a few upcoming events to try out you're new-found hobby. The Spring Ahead 5K and 10K will be held this Sunday, April 15 in Naperville. But if you need more time to prepare the Eikon 5K will take place Saturday, April 28 and the 5K Run for Reading is scheduled for Sunday, May 20.
For more information on upcoming 5K walks and runs visit these sites:
Spring Ahead 5K & 10K
Sunday, April 15, 2012
360 Youth and Family Services
Saturday, April 28, 2012
5K Run for Reading
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Jeanine Nicarico Literacy Foundation