Trainer Teaches Running From Start To Finish

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Jogger Valerie Marsh has every intention of participating in the Town of Payson's annual Turkey Trot 5K Walk/Run Nov. 18.

However, she's not entirely sure that she'll be able to finish it at all. And she's certainly not expecting to finish first.

Why? Because she's ... expecting.

Right now Marsh is seven months pregnant. Her due date is Nov. 22, four days after the Turkey Trot.

"I may be delivering my baby right on the track," she said with a grin. "If that happens, I hope the firemen who'll be here will take care of me. They don't charge as much as a hospital to deliver babies."

In order to prepare her physical self for any eventuality, Marsh has enrolled in the Parks and Recreation Department's "Start to Finish" program, designed to help runners and walkers of all types, sizes, ages and levels of fitness to complete the 5K, (3.1-mile, Turkey Trot.

"I really needed something to get me out of the house and exercise," she said.

That's something she normally does but not so late in a pregnancy. This, by the way, is her third.

"I was pretty athletic the first time, but since she was born, I haven't done anything. It was just a real blessing to find a program like this. It's just what I was looking for."

The certified trainer who runs the program, Abby Kendall, is just who Marsh was looking for, too.

"She's wonderful," Marsh said. "Abby's obviously seasoned, and she's doing a good job at keeping up with the fast runners and staying back with the middle-aged pregnant ladies all at the same time, keeping an eye on all of us. And without even breathing hard!"

Running for her life

Abby Kendall is, indeed, a walking poster-woman for the benefits of running specifically and physical fitness in general. At 34, she could pass for a 22-year-old coed in ridiculously good and healthful shape.

A teacher by profession, Kendall has a degree in physical education and is a certified personal trainer. She got involved in track and field when she was six years old, working her way up from 100 and 200 meters to 400 and 800. After college, she started entering 10K runs and marathons.

When she originated Start to Finish, she was operating her own personal training company.

"I felt like we needed a program to get people more involved," she said. "Payson was a really good place to do that, because people here are always looking for new things to do. So I said, 'Okay, let's try it!' The first year we had about 30 people. That was awesome."

Originally, her pre-Turkey Trot program was called "Learn to Run." Then it became the "Payson 5K Walk/Run Clinic." Now, of course, it's "Start to Finish" a name Kendall says is "absolutely guaranteed to stick because I like it the best."

Those who participate in the program can be awarded not only with increased stamina and lung power, but Turkey Trot prizes as well.

"The winners get turkeys, bouquets of flowers, bags of edible goodies," Kendall promised. "It's different from other races where they just give you medals and stuff. It's a lot of fun."

Wannabe participants can join Start to Finish at any time between now and the race, Kendall said, "although it's going to get harder as we go along. As we go through the program, we slowly start running more and walking less. But for those who are just walkers, it doesn't matter."

To any running newbies preparing for the Turkey Trot, with or without her help, Kendall has a few words of caution.

"The running rule people break the most often is that they go out too fast, too much, too soon, too hard.," she said. "If you gradually work into running, you're going to be more successful at it, and you're not going to burn out.

"Burn out is really high when people just decide one day, 'I'm going to go out and start running.' Then they run for three miles for the first time in their lives, they come home with tired, sore muscles, and then they say, 'I don't want to do that again!'"

She also does not endorse any particular brand or style of fleet footwear.

"You don't need a top-of-the-line running shoe," she said. "I pick shoes for comfort only, when they feel really good to me." (For the record, Kendall is wearing Reeboks as she says this.)

Finally, she asks Payson runners to be aware of the town's two and only drawbacks as a running ground: its hills and its lack of proximity to sea level.

"Right here at Green Valley Park it's okay, but most other places you're always running either up or down a hill, which is hard on some people. And the elevation makes it even more difficult for them," she said.

"But the great thing about both Start to Finish and the Turkey Trot 5K is that you can take them at whatever pace that's comfortable for you and still have a whole lot of fun."

The Start to Finish class meets at the rotunda in Green Valley Park every Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m., ending on the day of the race. A $40 per person registration fee includes all training, personal schedules, handouts and supplementary materials; a Start to Finish T-shirt; entry in the Turkey Trot 5K Race; and a Turkey Trot T-shirt.

Ages 18 and older are welcome, as are children aged 12 to 17 if accompanied by an adult. Participants must be in good health and should be able to walk or run one mile.

To register, call 474-5242, extension 7.

Jogging safely

Jogging is a great way to exercise and keep fit. After all, there's nothing easier than lacing up a pair of running shoes and heading outdoors. But jogging is not without risks. A little knowledge and preparation can go a long way to prevent injuries and accidents.

Before you start, consult your physician. He or she may suggest a stress test to evaluate your condition and can offer helpful advice specific to your physical condition.

Warm up before exercise. Warming up your muscles before you jog can decrease your risk of injury. Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes stretching and loosening the muscles that will be used while jogging. The increased blood flow of such a warm-up will decrease tension in your muscles, improve their range of motion and can even improve performance. Also, warming-up can significantly reduce the chances of muscle pulls, strains, sprains and other such injuries.

Pace yourself. Start jogging at a slower pace for the first few minutes or start your jog with a brisk walk. Sudden and unfamiliar exertions are most likely to cause injuries. If you want to run faster or longer, limit increases to no more than 10 percent a week.

Pay attention to how your body feels before and after a jog. Aches and pains are not uncommon after jogging. However, sharp pain that lasts longer than 20-30 minutes after a run could be abnormal. It's important to know your own body so you can be alert to a pull or pain that could be an indication of a more serious injury.

Beware of sudden injuries. Most mild chronic injuries can be treated with a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. Reducing mileage or icing the affected area are treatment options. Ankle injuries can cause the ankle to turn black-and-blue or to swell. However, the injury might not be just a sprain if you can't bear to stand or bear weight on the injured foot. When in doubt, consult your physician and obtain a X-ray to determine if the ankle is broken.

Watch out for acute and chronic injuries. Hamstring tears are common acute injuries they usually cause sudden pain in the back of the thigh when the hamstrings are contracted suddenly and violently.

Treat injuries properly. Treatment of both above-mentioned injuries includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Once the muscles have recovered, begin a stretching regimen to prevent further injury.

Find out if jogging is right for you. If you have a bad back, constant sore knees, or other recurring injuries, the pounding of jogging may not be for you. Find an activity that puts less stress and impact on the body. Select the right shoes. A proper fit means that your heel should be snug and not excessively slide up and down.

There should be a reasonable space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the toe box. Consider support, comfort, durability, and foot-motion control. Periodically, check the soles of your shoes for signs of wear.

Alternate different brands and styles of shoes. Doing so helps alleviate foot problems that develop because of a particular shoe's construction. Using more than one pair can also prolong shoe life.

Cool down. At the end of your jog, cool down by slowing your pace or walking. Muscles that have carried you through a workout have contracted, and a session of stretching is crucial. Muscles that are not conditioned this way are more likely to sustain pulls, strains and spasms.

Make jogging a habit. Jogging only once a week, no matter how vigorous the activity, puts you at risk of injury and fails to provide you with maximum aerobic and conditioning benefits. Try to establish a schedule of three 30-minute workouts a week.

Defense Against Dogs

Joggers or runners often encounter what either may be or appear to be an unfriendly dog. If such an encounter does occur, the following measures are encouraged:

When encountered by a threatening dog, the impulse is to often turn and run. This can be the worst response, however, since such movement can trigger the chase instinct in dogs.

Stand very still and attempt to be calm.

Don't scream at the dog and run.

Be aware of where the dog is. Look in its general direction, but don't stare into its eyes. This can be considered an aggressive challenge to a dog.

Let the dog sniff you.

In a low voice say, "No! Go home!"

Stay still until the dog leaves.

Back away slowly until it is out of sight.

If a dog does attack, try to "feed" it your workout jacket or other item of clothing.

If you are knocked down or fall, curl into a ball and keep your hands over your ears and face. Try not to scream or roll around.

compiled from various Internet sources

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