Training programs

You are only 10 weeks away from being fit enough to run a 10k

There are a lot of novice runners with aspirations of running a 5k or 10k. However, most of them don’t even know where to start.

Well if you live in the Chicago land area, have no fear. The Chicago Area Runners Association is putting on a “Beginning Running, 5k/10k program.”

It’s completely new with locations for the program being in St. Charles and Evanston.

The 10-week program will show you how to make it happen. It’ll provide you with:

  • The basic education you need to begin a safe and effective running program;
  • Instruction as needed during clinics and group workouts to answer your specific questions;
  • A daily workout schedule including a weekly group run to build your endurance and conditioning.

They’ll help you select a plan that’s right for you so that by the completion of the 10-week training program you’ll be able to run your first race. Each session features a clinic presented by knowledgeable professionals or runners, followed by a group training workout. Over the course of the program you will gradually increase your running time. So, join the program dressed in your gear and ready to run!

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Best places to run

It can be very convenient to step out of your front door and go for a run around your neighborhood. However, running the same streets can get real boring, real fast.

The best way to combat this is to visit a forest preserve every once in awhile for your run. They are scenic, which makes the run go by faster and more enjoyable. Also, they contain soft surfaces, which is one of the best way to prevent injuries.  

(One piece of advice I always give to runners is to stay of concrete as much as possible. Avoid it like the plague. Throw a golf ball down on concrete and see how hard and high it bounces. Then throw a golf ball on grass or limestone and see how it doesn’t bounce. Now think about that golf ball as the bones and joints in your legs.)

Anyway, the Chicago land area and specifically DuPage county have a bunch of great forest preserves for runners.

My two favorites are Waterfall Glen in Darien, which has a 9.8 mile loop, and Green Valley Forest Preserve in Woodridge.

Waterfall Glen is located off Cass Avenue and can be reached from I-55. Green Valley is located off 75th street and Green Road on the Woodridge/Naperville border. It can be reached from  I-355.

I highly reccommend you find a forest preserve that you like to run. It will keep you injury free, and make some of your longer runs much more enjoyable.

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Best places to rehab

If you’re just taking up running, there’s one thing you need to know: You’re going to get injured.

No matter how intelligently you train, how much you stretch or well your shoes fit you, chances are you are going to get hurt at some point in time. It’s just a part of the sport.

Something minor like a muscle strain or sore knee may just require a few days off, and it will go away. However, many injures will require you to seek rehabilitation from a Physical Therapy clinic.

Having endured eight stress fractures myself in my running career, I have been to many different clinics for rehabilitation. What clinic you go to could make a difference in how fast you get back, but more importantly whether you get rid of the injury for good. I’ve been to some great clinics that fix my problems, but also received some poor treatment from other clinics. A lot of clinics don’t understand running injuries, and are more tailored to dealing with non-athletes and the elderly.

There are two clinics I’d highly recommend for runners in the Chicago land area.

The first is Accelerated Rehabilitation, which has many offices in the Chicago land area. They perform Active Release Technique and have graston tools, which will get rid of any soft tissue problems. I had a great experience at the Willowbrook office. The employees were courteous, and genuinely wanted me to get better.

The second clinic I’d recommend, is Physical Medicine Associates in Naperville. The clinicn has a lot of high quality equipment. I have worked with Dr. Michael Anderson at PMA, and he’s a very knowledgeable sports chiropractor. He’s also a great guy who always has taken great interest in me and my running career.

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Solve your shoe problems

If you live in the Chicago land area, and run a good amount, or are thinking about taking up the sport, there is one thing you absolutely need: a good pair of running shoes.

Being fit into the right pair of shoes is absolutely crucial for all runners. It can make or break whether or not you accomplish goals. If you are not in the right pair of shoes, injuries, blisters and a lot of discomfort will make running miserable for you.

Because of this, you need to make sure you are shopping at the right place. Stay away from Sports Authority, Kohls, Target, etc. No offense to the employees at those places, but most of them likely are not runners and don’t know what type of shoe you should be in.

Instead visit a place like Dick Pond Athletics  which has locations in Lisle, St. Charles, Carol Stream and Carpentersville. All the employees at Dick Pond have years of running experience.

Upon arrival they will consult with you on your running background, how much  and what type of running you’re doing. From there, they’ll bring out several different shoes and watch you walk and run in them, and help you make a decision on what shoe would probably be best for you.

Prices are very reasonable as well, and they often have specials and discounts.

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Shamrock shuffle set to kick off

Simon Bairu, the Candian record holder in the 10k will compete in the Shamrock Shuffle

Every October, thousands of crazy people toe the line to run the Chicago Marathon. It’s a crazy atmosphere for all involved, even the spectators, that really can’t be described until one goes and checks it our for themself. The marathon is without a doubt the most popular race that takes place in the Chicago land area.

However, the second most popular race in the Chicago land area is the Shamrock Shuffle. The shuffle takes place every year in March or April, and over 30,000 people routinely compete in the 8k (4.97 mile) race, that starts and finishes in Grant Park.

The shuffle is just as, if not more fun to attend than the marathon, with a crazy atmosphere that lasts all day.

Registration has already closed for 2011’s race, which is on Sunday, April 10. However, I would highly suggest everyone looking to get involved in Chicago’s running community goes and checks it out.

The race up front will be a lot fun to watch, even if you don’t personally know anyone competing.

Simon Bairu, who has the Canadian record in the 10k will be competing, as will Amy Yoder-Begley who competed in the 10k for the United States in the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships.

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Welcome to Chicago runners

This blog will serve as a great tool to all runners in the Chicago land area.

It will offer the reader advice on many aspects of the running community in the Chicago land area, including the:

Best places to train and run

best local races

Best places to shop for gear and shoes

Best places to shop for nutrition supplements

Best places to seek treatment for injuries (and places to avoid).

The author has been an active member of the running community in the Chicago land area for the past twelve years, and will be a valuable resource to new runners in the Chicago land area, as well as seasoned veterans looking for some more options to improve their training.

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