Pensacola, Florida
Sunday December 21st 2014

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Getting Started: Running 101

By Sarah McCartan

There’s perhaps no better time of the year to take up running—or walking, jogging or any outdoor-centered exercise endeavor for that matter—than Fall. At least as far as the Sunshine State is concerned.

Any runner will gladly tell you that aside from the more overstated physical benefits of this cardiovascular exercise, such as getting in shape, increased energy, and disease prevention, running offers something that runs even deeper—community. Thanks to the ongoing commitment from local running store, Running Wild, this close-knit sense of community that abounds locally continues to flourish and grow increasingly accessible to the masses.

“Our mission since our opening day in August of 2000 has been to build and serve the runners, walkers and endurance sport athletes in our community,” said Paul Epstein, owner of Running Wild. Together with his wife Cherie and dedicated staff, they’ve been carrying out their mission since day one.

“That mission and commitment has grown to being fully supportive of the personal and group goals of all types of athletes and fitness enthusiasts in our community,” he said.

On top of supporting hundreds of local athletic events both financially and physically, Running Wild extends numerous programs and group opportunities—inviting and encouraging individuals to get involved, get started, and get running.

“Not only is running extremely important to me,” said Epstein, “I love to help and observe others reach their goals. Fitting someone correctly in a pair of shoes, helping them run a 5k, showing them an exercise or giving advice on overcoming an injury are the things that drive me daily.”

For individuals just starting out, to get you off on the right foot, and so you don’t do too much too soon, Epstein recommends the following.

First thing’s first—gearing up.

“Get fit in the correct gear on day one,” said Epstein. “Everyone is different; get the right gear for you.”

Second is taking it in stride.

“Start slower than you think you should,” he said. “Most start out too fast and are injured in a few weeks.”

Third comes safety, and accountability.

Epstein explained, “Find a friend to start with. Not only will they keep you accountable, and vice versa, but going out on the roads with another is much safer than being alone.”

Gearing Up
Before you dart off to the nearest store and buy the first pair of walking or running shoes that catch your eye because they are a) on sale b) your favorite color c) a brand you find especially attractive d) all of the above, you should check yourself before you wreck yourself—or potentially wreck your body.

“Shoes are where the rubber meets the road—literally,” said Epstein. “There are so many choices in shoes today and so much information about which is best for you, that it is overwhelming.”

Thanks to Epstein and the educated and dedicated staff at Running Wild, you aren’t alone on making this important, worthwhile investment. And it doesn’t have to break your bank.

Running Wild stocks a wide selection of shoes starting around $100 that are designed for both running and walking. Chances are they have the right shoe for your body, and your budget.

“We are all educated and have a passion for running. This makes people feel better about what they are buying,” said Shannon Kohler, seasoned marathoner and Running Wild staff member.

Kohler affirms this investment is one you are making for the safety of your body. Purchasing a quality pair of shoes that is the right fit for you will help you avoid common injuries such as shin splints or planter fasciitis.

“When someone starts out running and they’re in the wrong shoe, the chance of getting injured is much greater,” agreed Epstein. “When a newer runner has to stop running it becomes very discouraging for them.  We are committed to keeping people running and reaching their goals through proper fit and advice.”

Prior to bringing out shoes for you to try on, the Running Wild staff will ask you to “walk it out,” meaning they will watch you place one foot in front of the other and walk so they can visually assess your gait—to see if you tend to roll in, or out. This allows them to determine the level and type of stability needed in a shoe.

“A gait analysis tells us if your arch collapses in or out—if you over pronate versus under pronate,” explained Kohler.

Equally important, is size—specifically, going a size up.

“People may think they wear a size eight, but in actuality they probably wear a nine. You want to have a thumb width of space,” said Kohler.

This increase in size for running shoes allows you to have the extra space needed for your feet to sweat and swell, and avoid battling blisters or other painful issues.

Depending on the mileage you are putting on them, most shoe purchases will last between six and eight months. Running Wild offers loyalty points to take some burden off when it does come time for your next purchase.

On top of the right pair of shoes, for women, Kohler notes equally important are purchases of sports bra, and for both male and female, synthetic socks and breathable, non-cotton attire.

Once you are geared up, to keep you on your feet, Running Wild offers free running form clinics twice a month where they watch you run and offer helpful tips for both performance and safety. They also offer free trigger point classes.

“Correct shoes are obviously very important, but beyond that, keeping one’s muscles elastic and flexible through massage, trigger point therapy and specific stretching is the key to long term healthy running,” said Epstein.

Group Effort
After you are dressed and ready, then comes actually, well, getting out there. Once again, you are not in it alone—in fact you are far from it.

“You have all these programs and apps,” said Kohler, “But what makes it successful is coming in and doing it as a group.”

On top of co-ed group runs such as the bi-weekly six at six, or the women only phenomenon that is Phat Girlz Fridays, Running Wild offers multiple training classes—including “My First 5K.”

“In the 5k class, you meet people, form a bond and want to finish the race [together],” said Kohler.

Culminating with a 5k race, this 12-week program eases participants into running, guiding them every step of the way. The program includes personal coaching, a nutrition plan, seminars and more. Plus the group atmosphere allows for increased accountability.

“There are many advantages to the ‘My First 5K’ class,” said Nicki Brask, coach and Running Wild staff member. “Accountability and safety are the biggest advantages. Staying accountable is a big challenge when you are starting a new fitness program. We slowly introduce running to each participant’s life after fitting them in the correct shoes.”

Speaking of shoes, since gearing up is the first step in the process, included in the sign up fee for the class is a complimentary pair of fitted shoes, and proper attire.

The “My First 5K” class kicked off this week and finishes with the Ho Ho Hustle 5K in December. It’s not too late to sign up and jump on board for the current class, or make plans for one of the upcoming classes starting later this Fall.

“We also offer Personal Coaching so if a class time doesn’t work for a participant, they can pick and choose their own services, times and races. We guide them through the training process by equipping them with all the tools they need to succeed,” said Brask. “Our goal is to create a habit for the individual and help them determine a ‘road map’ for fitness for the rest of their lives.”

For more information on training programs and more, visit werunwild.com.