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"Together Decatur" Columnist and Food and Drink Reporter

“Together Decatur” columnist and food and drink reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

The Overdose Awareness Day 5K is drawing closer. My deadline is Aug. 25 (that’s reporter talk for 'You had better be ready'), and I will be running my first full-length 5K.

I am utilizing most of the tips and suggestions I have been given on how to be a better runner as I started on this journey in January. Muscles have gained strength, endurance has grown and vital numbers have improved. I also have been surprised on what I have found on this journey — some new interests.

While warming up for the French Fried 5K in downtown Decatur in June, Amy Mazzotti from A-Team-Bootcamp 360  had the crowd dancing to a simple line dance often seen at weddings. I had never joined the wedding crowds, but I had no choice this time. I loved it, know matter what I looked like.

I also visited a kickboxing studio to learn a few self-defense moves. I felt weak and silly trying to kick butt. Something else kicked in, however, and now I feel the need to conquer this activity.

Let’s see where I can use all of these ideas.

I have met a few runners during my journey who love weightlifting. According to a 2018 Runner’s World article, weightlifting builds strength that can be beneficial over the long haul.

“As a runner, you’re training for strength, not to bulk up with massive muscle gains,” the article “The 9 Weight-Training Exercises Runners Need to Get Stronger, Faster, and More Efficient” stated. “And because of the amount of miles you’re putting in weekly, the chances that you’d achieve a large increase in muscle mass are pretty low.”

I will have to try it.

Another interest runners are telling me about is yoga. Not only does it relieve stress, it also helps recover from some types of injuries. Overall, yoga can loosen tight muscles, improve focus and build strength. Some yoga classes are designed to be used as exercise, creating stronger muscles, increased heart rate and sweat (sounds like running).

Laurie Ellis is a fitness instructor at Decatur Athletic Club. She teaches her students how to add strength training into their workouts. “It incorporates all parts of the body,” she said. “It is a good mix.”

Most local gyms provide alternative fitness activities such as water aerobics, swimming, spin classes, rowing classes, aerobic classes and CrossFit. Instructors often alter the classes to fit the appropriate ages and abilities.

The activities are fun, and they also help with running.

Glutes, for example, are important for quickness, speed and agility in running, Ellis said.

“A lot of runners can have ankle, knee and hip problems because of the pounding on the pavement, so you want to cross-train,” she said.

No matter the activity, it should be fun or interesting to the person doing the workout.

“Whatever works for you, you just find something in life that’s going to help you be healthy,” Ellis said.

I don’t know what my favorite activity is yet, I’ll just keep trying them all. It's part of the fun.

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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


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