Want to get fit and be part of a good cause? The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is a 5k run/fitness walk that raises funds for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivors and honors those who have died from the disease. (First check with your doctor if you’re not a regular exerciser to make sure you’re healthy enough to begin a program.)
If you've got the all clear and are ready for the 5k challenge, decide if you are going to walk or run the race, or do a combination of both.
- Take into account your level of fitness, start slow, and pay attention to your body's signals to know whether you're overdoing it. Check with your doctor if something hurts.
- Plan to walk or run four to five times a week. If you want to work up from walking to running, begin alternating short bouts of jogging (try starting with 60 seconds) with walking. Occasionally cross train to avoid injury and make things more interesting—ride a bike, lift weights or go for a swim.
- Use proper technique. According to Lynn Gray, founder and coach of First Step Programs (FirstStepPrograms.com), and author of Fit and Faster: 100 Workouts for Walkers and Runners, "I train a lot of beginners and form and technique are key. You should have a slight arch to the back, step heel to toe, striking with whole foot, not just the forefoot. Your arms should swing forward, not right to left or up and down. Your head should look straight ahead, not down."
- Keep an exercise log, writing down your activity, distance, time spent walking or running. Online tools at Web sites like NBFits.com can help you track your progress.
- Warm up, cool down and stretch.
- Take one or two rest days per week to give your body adequate time to recover.
- Make sure you have well-fitting, comfortable and supportive shoes.
For more support and motivation, find a group to train with — or start one of your own. Ask around your office or neighborhood or check online for walk/run buddies to train with. "Camaraderie is one of the main reasons women train," said Gray.
Training for a charity event is a great way to get fit and do good at the same time. "Women tend to be more focused when they have a cause that they believe in," noted Gray.
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