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Running for your health: Where to start

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After months of feeling cooped-up at home, many of us are looking for ways to be active -- and safe.

According to Chris Travers, an exercise physiologist at Cleveland Clinic, starting a running routine is a great way to exercise by yourself.

But if you’re hitting the pavement for the first time, you will need the right pair of shoes. Travers said having the right gear is essential to avoid a painful injury.

Some people may be hesitant to go into a store because of COVID-19, but you can also find help online.

“There are some resources online where you can videotape your own foot, and they will work with you on finding the type of footwear, and give you a recommendation,” said Travers.

Another key to staying healthy -- whether you’re a running newbie, or you just haven’t run in a little while -- is to ease into your mileage.

“I would start with a walking program first; maybe walk for four minutes, run for a minute, walk for four minutes, run for a minute,” said Travers. “I would start with looking at time over distance.”

If you’re a competitive runner and your race was canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, Travers recommends keeping up on your training.

But be sure to plan your regimen accordingly, because training too hard year-round can set you up for injury.

He said one thing to keep in mind, is that you may be lucky enough to find a new race to train for instead.

“There’s always another race to find and it might not be at the time of the season that you wanted to run, but you might find if you planned to run in the summer, if you run a different race in the fall, you may actually do better because of the different changes in climate and things of that nature,” said Travers.

Travers says one of the greatest benefits of running, aside from its heart-health benefits, is that it can help boost our mental health, especially when we’re spending a lot of time in our homes.

He reminds all runners to listen to their bodies -- don’t go too hard too soon, and stop running if you experience pain.