Running for fun: tips for weekend warriors

Exercise enthusiasts enjoy the Tenn-Tom Trails walking track in Fulton on a July morning. (ZACH ADAMS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM)

Exercise enthusiasts enjoy the Tenn-Tom Trails walking track in Fulton on a July morning. (ZACH ADAMS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM)

By Zach Adams
Sports Editor

Day and night Itawamba’s runners toil to meet personal goals. Some want to run competitively, while other just want to stay in shape or lose weight. Whatever the movtivation, running hot-spots like the Tenn-Tom Trails in Fulton or the the Mantachie walking track are constantly teeming with those eager to hit the pavement.

While some have run for years, others are just beginning. No matter the experience level, everyone can benefit from new perspectives so the following tips were compiled to help those weekend, or weekday, warriors looking for an edge.

Create a plan and stick with it
Some people can just up and begin running one day and get a lot out of it. Many, however, need structure. That is why crafting a comprehensive plan and strategy when beginning to run is important. Decide what you want out of the activity and how much time per week you have to devote to it. Plan a schedule and stick to it. Make benchmarks and goals and celebrate as you meet each one. Craft your plan to meet certain objectives such as fat burning or race training. Make use of resources such as the internet or local experts to help you in this endeavor.

Run when you feel like it

Some people enjoy running in the morning, while others prefer the brutality of midday or the more tolerable evenings. Find your preference and run at the time you find most relaxing. Work schedules, family obligations and Mississippi humidity may dictate when running is possible, but almost everyone can carve out at least a half an hour three to four days per week.

Don’t whine, run through it

Beginners will find the first few weeks are the most difficult. Legs will burn and sides will split, but just run through it. Self-determination is crucial to the process. There is nothing worse than being asked how it’s going by a friend or family member and being forced to admit that you quit. A popular movie once said there is a difference between being hurt and injured. If your hurt push through it, but if your injured seek treatment. Don’t overdo it. Shin splints, pulled or torn muscles and other injuries do happen. Learn to recognize if you’re hurt or injured and act accordingly.

Buy good shoes

Don’t cheap out. Good shoes are crucial to a runner. Nobody is saying that you have to go to a specialty shop and get fitted for a $200 pair of running shoes, but spend $60 or so on a good pair so that your feet are not in constant pain.

Use the ‘Talk Test’

Running with a partner is a great idea. It gets competitive juices flowing and often results in greater results because no one wants to be the weak link who needs a break. When you do decide to pair up, use the talk test to set a steady pace. Run fast enough that singing would be a problem, but slow enough that you could carry on a conversation with your partner while you run.


Running while tense results in poor performance. Stretch well and relax your muscles while running. In this regard, running is much like MMA or boxing. Many fighters have gone into the ring tense, blown their energy in the first couple of rounds and stumbled through the rest of the match like a worn-out zombie. This may be easier said than done in a competitive race such as a 5K, but take a deep breath, zone out the other runners and do your own thing. Chances are your time will thank you for it.

Change it up

A good schedule and the determination to adhere to it is a great thing, but from time to time, it is good to change up and avoid becoming too rigid. If you have a strict schedule of running four miles three days per week, swap it up and run sprints one day per week to break up the monotony. This is a challenge because people dislike change; however, new challenges can improve times and help through ceilings and overcome plateaus that inevitably crop up.

Keep hydrated

This is just common sense, especially for people living in Mississippi. Many people often go to exercise without any means of hydration. The humidity in this part of the country can drain you quickly, so pay attention to where you are and make sure you to have access to water at all times.

Rest on your time

The amount of rest needed for each runner is different. Some people can run five or six days per week with no problems, while others may be limited to three or four days due to issues such as shin splints. There is a fine balance between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too far. Try running every other day at first and see how your body responds. If there are no problems, run more; if problems crop up, run less.

Have fun

Perhaps this is the most important tip on this list. If you are miserable, then you will quit. Find a place and time to run that is relaxing and enjoyable. If you find that you absolutely hate running, then do something else. A fitness class or boxing lesson may be more your speed. The important thing is getting exercise. Some people even enjoy running on a treadmill more than outside. If so, joining a gym could be the right solution.


  • Teaching Mama

    Just used this article to convince my husband I need to invest in a pair of Brooks! Thanks! =)