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House Call: Get ready for Bloomsday

Runners crest Doomsday Hill during Bloomsday 2016 on Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Spokane, Wash. TYLER TJOMSLAND (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Runners crest Doomsday Hill during Bloomsday 2016 on Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Spokane, Wash. TYLER TJOMSLAND (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

I love Bloomsday! I love seeing people around Spokane out running and walking in the spring to get ready for it, and that it is our city’s welcome-to-spring event. I love it this year especially after months of not being able to exercise outside due to the snow and ice that we’ve had on the roads and sidewalks. My wife and I have been running or walking it since we moved here in 1992, and I hope to do it for years to come.

Bloomsday is May 7 this year. That seems quite a way off, but the first free Providence/Kaiser Permanente training clinic is Saturday at 8:30 a.m at Spokane Community College Gym. Please note the new location this year (at SCC instead of Spokane Falls Community College). You can register online at or at the training clinic. Even if you are planning on walking the 7.46 mile (12 kilometer) course, I recommend training for it. If attending a clinic isn’t your thing, or you have a schedule conflict, there is training schedule information available on the Bloomsday website.

Signing up for an event like Bloomsday is a great way to continue working toward New Year’s resolutions like lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol or shedding holiday pounds.

If you find it a challenge to walk or run the five times a week recommended in the online Bloomsday training schedule, consider mixing in other activities, like swimming or cycling, to give you a bit of diversity while still working on your cardiac capacity and endurance. Both of these activities give the knees a nice break too. Try to get in those walks or runs at least three days a week. I also recommend getting a training buddy. Whether it’s a spouse or a friend, as training buddies you can encourage each other, work out together, and help each other keep to your training schedule.

During your workouts, drink plenty of water. Avoid those sugary sports drinks during your workouts. Within 30 minutes after you finish training, drink a small glass (say 4 ounces) of non-fat chocolate milk or some other recovery drink. I also recommend stretching and working on core strength regularly to keep muscles supple. Yoga and Pilates are great for this. Be sure to give yourself at least one workout-free rest day per week. Your body needs this time to repair minor muscle tears and build new muscle.

Since you are going to be on your feet for Bloomsday, you want to have good shoes that fit properly for it. If you are thinking about getting new shoes, now is the time to do it so that you can break them in. Increase the distance and time you spend in them each day, that way there won’t be any painful surprises on race day. Similar advice goes for clothing. Although you can’t break in clothing like you do a pair of shoes, you can be sure to wear your Bloomsday gear (all the way down to your underwear) on one of your longer training runs or walks to check for chafing and rubbing.

To help increase the effectiveness of your workouts while training for Bloomsday eat more fruits and vegetables and get plenty of low-fat protein in your meals for building healthy muscles. I am a big fan of beans and fish. Try to eat about a gram of protein for every two pounds of body weight.

The morning of Bloomsday eat a light breakfast, drink some water, and remember to put on some sunscreen before you head downtown. Have a great time. See you there.

Dr. Bob Riggs is a family medicine physician practicing at Kaiser Permanente’s Riverfront Medical Center. His column appears biweekly in The Spokesman-Review.