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Sping 2014 - Running for a Cause

Families can have a lot of fun running in a race, and some parents introduce their children to running as an easy way to get moving together. Others simply take on the challenge for a good cause. Regardless of the reason, a charity race can be a win-win for all, but families who run together should also train together at a nice and steady pace.

If you are thinking about signing up for a race, remember to take the necessary steps to avoid injury and keep things fun. Chris Billiar, PT, at WakeMed Physician Practices – Physical Therapy, recommends a number of steps for families to get started and stay on track.

“Before you get started, make sure you address any previous health concerns with your doctor and buy running shoes that fit your family’s needs,” said Billiar. “If any of your family members have seen a physical therapist in the past, inquire about potential concerns or problems to be tuned into as you begin training.”

If the Shoe Fits
Just because the shoe fits doesn’t mean it is a good fit for you or your child. Visit a store that specializes in running. They will most likely observe each customer as they walk and run, and they should take measurements for a proper fit. Many stores will let you return shoes if you are unhappy with them after a light run. Ask about your options.

Before Training

  • Talk to your family doctor(s)
  • Shop for shoes at a running store and ask for a professional shoe fitting
  • Try out the shoes on a treadmill or short run
  • Sign up for a running clinic

Avoid Pitfalls

  • Resist the temptation to choose running shoes based solely on appearance
  • Don’t overdo it when you first start
  • Never ignore pain induced by running
  • Don’t make training or first family runs competitive
  • Slow down your training if you switch shoes

Get Started

  • Give yourself plenty of time to train
  • Remember, a slow start is always best
  • Plan to alternate running and walking at first
  • Take days off from running
  • Stay in tune with your child’s comfort level
  • Pay attention if your child mentions pain
  • Listen to your kids and avoid pressure to do more
  • Track your progress with Couch-to-5k® or other running plan apps

Growing Kids & Muscle Imbalance
“If a child has recently experienced a growth spurt, it is important to know they could be more vulnerable to specific injuries,” said Billiar. “As a child’s bones grow, muscles need to reposition so they are generally weaker after a growth spurt.” A visit to a physical therapist can identify any muscle imbalances. Some children need to add specific exercises to their day to help realign muscles and strengthen their core.

Stretch It Out
After you run, it is good to stretch. “Use a wall for support as you stretch your feet and legs, and be sure to cover all the muscles,” said Billiar. “Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and do each stretch 3 to 5 times.” Be careful not to overstretch and don’t push yourself on a stretch. It should never be painful. Parents should always watch kids when stretching and stop them at any sign of pain.

NOTE: If you’ve never learned proper running stretches, sign the whole family up for a running clinic. They are offered around the community and are usually free. Stay tuned to for dates and locations.

Keep the Fun in the Run
It’s never too early to train for a 5k race, and Billiar encourages families to train for a minimum of two months. “Three days of running each week is usually a good plan,” said Billiar. “Take every other day off and add in other activities to avoid overuse of the same muscle group and reduce impact on the body.”

“If you sign up too late or get off track with your training, a run/walk or just a walk is a good option,” said Billiar. “Of course, it’s important to work up your walking distance over a few weeks as well.” The noncompetitive category of most races typically includes lots of walkers, and some charity events even have short fun runs for kids.

If you like the idea of a family race but you simply haven’t had time to train, don’t push yourself too soon. Instead, consider making a donation and showing up to cheer on other runners at a race. Watching a race can be a fun family experience, and there’s a good chance it will get you motivated for the next run.

WakeMed’s Scrub Run is scheduled for Saturday, June 21. Scrub Run page for details.




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