Springing back into shape

Put away your “fat” jeans, folks, spring is upon us. When the warmer weather arrives, it will bring with it the inevitable urge to get outside to soak up the sunshine and maybe even work up a sweat.

While some diehards have adopted the neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night motto about running, the majority of us likely have taken a different route — one that instead encompasses a winter slowdown. Or maybe we’ve taken solace from the harsh winter in one too many maple bars.

For those who fall into the latter category, rest assured. It is not too late to stage a comeback as strong as the 2004 Boston Red Sox. All it takes is a little gumption.

Seabeck resident Lisa Ballou knows a thing or two about getting people off their duffs and on their feet. For the past two years, Ballou has taken women who have never exercised in their lives and in a mere 11 weeks, trained their bodies to complete the Seattle Danskin triathlon.

The all-female triathlon, which benefits breast cancer research, takes place in mid-August and consists of a half-mile swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run. Although the official training season will not start until June, Ballou is already giving her minions advice on how to prep for the training. While her advice is for the women who have signed up for the triathlon, it can work for anyone who has set a fitness goal, such as running a 5k, 10k or even half-marathon.

First, she said, training should be a gradual process.

“So your main goal right now is to get strong enough such that the start of our official training period will not seem like a huge shock to your system,” Ballou stated in an e-mail.

She also recommends varying an exercise routine by incorporating swimming, biking, running and aerobics to get the most benefit possible and to prevent boredom. At the same time, she advises that a routine should include core-strengthening exercises at least once a week, such as sit-ups, leg-lifts or yoga.

Whatever the exercise of choice, she cautions that folks should start out slow and gradually build endurance.

If walking or running, “start easy with 10-15 minutes and gradually build up to 30 minutes,” she said. “My strong suggestion would be to take these walks/runs on the trails/roads around your house.”

By the same token, if bike-riding is the exercise of choice, “Keep track of how long your bike rides are and try to add five-10 minutes of riding time each week.”

Debbee Straub, who leads the Kitsap Family YMCA’s Resolution Runners, takes a different approach. Her motto is, “The ‘run season’ never really ends. The clothing just gets lighter.”

Because she is an all-weather runner, she has practical advice on running outside year-round. In addition to staying hydrated and wearing properly fitting shoes, there are other tips to staying safe while running.

“When it is cool and rainy, a runner is best to wear polypropylene, cool max, dri-weave type clothing to wick away the sweat from your skin,” she said. “In fact, this is a good fabric throughout all seasons. Also, light layering is a good idea when it is crisp. A hat is essential. A running/biking aerated type of ball cap is best to keep the head cool and yet dry.”

She also said that when it comes to staying safe while running outside, a little safety goes a long way.

She advises that runners run opposing traffic, wear reflective clothing so they can be seen easily and run with a partner. In addition, headphones should not be used because runners should be aware of their environment.

“Most important, run with identification on your person,” Straub said. “If possible run with a cell phone or change for a cell phone just in case.”

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