With the month of holiday gorging on baked goods and eggnog trailing off, it’s that time of year when many start checking in with themselves and vow to get back to health.
For those who want to take up running, a number of opportunities exist. Trails in the Sierra Nevada foothills are in their prime during the winter months when temperatures are cool, there is less crowding and the land green with new life.
Organized runs are already dotting the 2014 calendar, local running groups continue to host weekly outings for every skill level and several clinics for beginners are coming in the months ahead.
In its second year, preregistration for the New Year’s Day 5K and 10K run, Resolve2Run has tripled. The fundraiser for Chicago Park 4-H Club, Chicago Park School and the Peardale/Chicago Park Volunteer Fire Department is the first Gold Country Grand Prix endorsed race.
Organizers hope to attract more than 200 to a run that winds through the picturesque agrarian Chicago Park countryside.
“This year is going to be an amazing race. We have really worked on creating a race that people can’t wait until next year to run in again,” said race coordinator Andrew Bousfield.
Mark and Leatrice Erickson, owners of Trkac Specialty Running/Walking Store, began their career in running five years ago. Besides helping others train to run, the couple runs weekly with a group and rarely on the same trail twice.
Running requires minimal equipment investment other than a quality pair of properly fitted shoes and socks. Surely one of the most primal forms of exercise, running outdoors on dirt trails helps folks connect with nature.
“We are very fortunate to live in the foothills of the Sierras. There are endless miles of trails right in our backyard. The vistas that overlook the canyons are spectacular and the wildlife is abundant,” said Mark Erickson.
For apprehensive beginners, Trkac and the Sierra TrailBlazers will offer a free 10-week training program for walkers and runners of all experience levels beginning in February. The goal is to prepare runners for the Grand Prix Daffodil 5K and 10K April 13.
For total beginners who want an introduction to running, Trkac is also offering a free 10- week Educational/ Easy Training program beginning Feb. 8.
A wildly successful collaboration, the last program put on by Trkac and the Sierra TrailBlazers attracted more than 250 participants. Last year, the cooperative supported by volunteers trained hundreds of people to run.
“At the end of each of the training sessions, people were overwhelmed with joy at their own accomplishments and smiling from ear-to-ear,” Erickson said.
The Sierra TrailBlazers was formed in 1978. Current president Peggy Davidson has completed nineteen 100-mile endurance runs and hundreds of ultra distance, marathons, half marathons and triathlons. In its 36th year, the group offers several scheduled runs during the week for beginning and experienced runners and the Grand Prix series of local 5K and 10K races attract thousands of participants each year.
Tips for beginners
Erickson says running brings him joy and has dramatically changed his life.
He admits his current fitness level didn’t come right away. Learning to run was a gradual process, filled with milestones.
“I remember racing home from the gym to tell my wife that I had run a quarter mile without stopping,” said Erickson.
That soon became a mile. Then he was running 5K races and crossing the finish line.
Too much too fast is the quickest way to lose interest, says Erickson. Build up running fitness slowly, follow a training schedule and join a training group, he suggests.
“There is an energy that develops when people train together,” he said.
Unless a doctor says ‘no,’ running can be for everyone, believes Erickson.
Feeling ill, having bad knees or fears of an injury are common reasons for giving up. Instead consider running as an investment with great returns: mental and physical health, self-confidence, pride, joy and friendship, Erickson says.
“Learning to run takes time, lots of time. I tell people, ‘What’s the rush, we have the rest of our lives.’ The way to not give up is — Don’t do too much too fast. It is unbelievable what you can accomplish if you don’t rush.”
Contact freelance writer Laura Brown at email@example.com.