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Getting fit for Bloomsday starts now

I was amazed the first time I participated in Spokane’s Lilac Bloomsday Run.

So many people of all shapes and sizes were out there walking and running together. The costumes, people cheering, the Doomsday Hill vulture, volunteers, bands – the whole spirit of it is spectacular.

We walked with friends who had an infant, so we went slowly and simply enjoyed the show. Since then I try to participate a little more actively and pay attention to my time – especially since it’s posted online for all to see.

Bloomsday is May 2 this year and it will be here before you know it. If you are planning on walking or running the 7.46-mile (12-kilometer) course, you want to be ready.

Perhaps you have already joined the free weekly training clinic being held on Saturdays at Spokane Falls Community College. I am teaching one of these clinics this year.

Local schools are helping elementary students get ready for Bloomsday with the “Fit for Bloomsday” program.

Even if you have not yet joined a training program, it is not too late. Besides training, what else can you do to get ready?

Please take care of your feet. If your running or walking shoes are getting near the end of their life, replace them now so you have time to break in new shoes before Bloomsday.

Walk or run in your new shoes daily (increasing the distance and time you spend in them each day) so that you can get used to them and break them in well before the big day. It can take up to 40 miles to break in new shoes.

If you notice hotspots anywhere on your feet, stop training and fix the problem. Blisters should never be a part of breaking in shoes and can be a sign that your shoes do not fit properly or that different socks are needed.

Sometimes switching from plain cotton socks to socks that wick away moisture or socks made for running/walking (these have extra padding in the heel or around the toes) can prevent blisters and hotspots. Other times it can require a special insole or a different shoe.

A good way to get shoes that fit properly is to go to a store that specializes in running and walking shoes and have them fit you for shoes. This can cost more, but is worth it.

Take an old pair of shoes with you to the store since the wear patterns can help the staff guide you to the right shoes for you.

Some of these stores will let you return shoes (the cleaner the better) if you go for your first run or walk in them and experience problems. Ask about the return policy and explain any specific problems (e.g., shin splints; hip, knee or ankle pain) before you buy shoes.

Part of the tradition of Bloomsday is the distribution of all the clothes worn to keep warm before the race starts, then discarded. If you have never done Bloomsday before, you will see what I mean.

Just remember that it is OK to have those outer clothes be well-worn, but make sure the clothes underneath (even your underwear) are comfortable enough and appropriate for running/walking more than 7 miles.

Go for at least one run or long walk in the clothes you plan to wear on Bloomsday. You do not want the seam on a new running shirt or walking shorts to rub a painful raw spot on race day.

While you are training for Bloomsday, you might want to think about some dietary changes that could help make your workouts more effective.

Drink a glass of nonfat chocolate milk or some other recovery drink within 30 minutes after you finish training. Try adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Get plenty of low-fat protein in your meals, for healthy muscles.

If you do not normally eat breakfast, this is a great time to start eating one that includes some protein (eggs, yogurt, peanut butter or low-fat meat) every day.

When you get ready the morning of Bloomsday, do not forget to put on some sunscreen, wear a hat with a brim and bring a friend.

Have a great time. See you there.

Dr. Alisa Hideg is a family medicine physician at Group Health’s Riverfront Medical Center in Spokane. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Today section. Send your questions and comments to