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House Call: Time for spring training

Now that the snow is melting and our days are getting longer and warmer, everyone is itching to be outside. While it’s a bit early for yardwork, it’s not too early to start your outdoor spring training.

Bloomsday is rapidly approaching, so if you are planning to participate, it’s best to start getting ready now. For 40 years, Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health Care have offered free Bloomsday Training Clinics to get our community in shape for the big race. The first of seven clinics starts this Saturday at Spokane Community Colleges at 8:30 a.m. Although the clinic is free, you do need to register – either online or in-person at the clinic. (You can find the registration link at www.bloomsdayrun.org/).

The clinic will help you build up your strength, stamina and endurance for the race whether you are planning to run or walk it. Week one starts with 1 mile. Each week, another mile is added, so at the end, you’re fully ready to complete Bloomsday. You also need to be walking or running on your own in between each clinic session. They will give you recommendations for training and rest days each week. The more you prepare your body for it, the better you will feel during the race and in the days following when you proudly wear your Bloomsday finisher T-shirt.

Whether you plan to participate in Bloomsday or not, here are a few tips to get your spring training off to a healthy start.

Take it slow. If you’ve had a break from exercise over the winter, remember it will take a minute to get you back to optimal training. Don’t push too hard and risk injury. Start with shorter/lighter workouts and increase intensity as you feel ready.

Make some dietary changes while you are training. Avoid alcohol so that you also avoid dehydration. Eating more vegetables and fruits during the weeks leading up to the race can improve how you feel and perform as well. Most of us don’t need to carb-load for Bloomsday, but if you want to, it is most effective if you start doing it a couple of days before the race.

Take a water bottle with you and keep extra in the car. Always stay hydrated.

Get your shoes ready. If you think your running or walking shoes are looking or feeling a bit too old, buy new ones now so you can get used to them. Your socks are just as important, don’t slip on a brand new pair of socks before you workout – reach for a tried and true pair.

Plan for the weather and dress appropriately. Weather now (and on Bloomsday) can be unpredictable. I recommend keeping extra workout clothing in your car for whatever the day brings. Layering can help get you to the right level of comfort.

Wear sunscreen, even if it’s an overcast day. You would be surprised at how many UV rays get through the clouds.

Stay safe. Exercise with a buddy (that will help keep you on schedule, too) and be sure to wear reflective or lighted gear to help motorists see you better.

Finally, if you’re recovering from injury, it’s not impossible to exercise, in fact it usually helps your body heal faster. Check with your doctor first. Then – go slowly, set small attainable goals, stretch properly and listen to your body talk. Respect your body’s limits. You don’t want to overdo it and make your recovery longer.

Most importantly, just get out there and start moving. We live in one of the most beautiful, accessible regions in the world – go enjoy it!

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