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Start Running!

Nikki Vanasse, a Martinsville Resident and Member of the Columbia University Cross Country and Track Teams, Gives Expert Running Advice

Running Background: I grew up in a family of runners and have been running since I was 12. I began running with the Hunterdon Lions Track Club and then ran at The Pingry School. I now compete for Columbia University. 

Accomplishments: While attending The Pingry School, I was an eight-time New Jersey State Champion in cross country and track. I recently earned All-Ivy Honors at the Ivy League Cross Country Championships. 

Favorite Places to Run: Brookside Drive in Bridgewater is a flat, quiet road alongside a river. I also enjoy running in Basking Ridge at Pleasant Valley Park and Mountain Park and at Natirar Park in Gladstone.

Advice for Novice Runners: 

·       Invest in properly fitted running shoes. Your shoes take all the impact of your runs, so the wrong pair for you can cause injuries or tired legs.

·       Keep a running log—either a hard copy diary or an electronic version to track your progress. Strava is a good online option that is easy to use on both computers and phones.

·       Alternate jogging and walking to start. For example, try a three-minute jog and a one-minute walk for four sets. You can increase the jogging time, decrease the walking time and/or increase sets as you begin to feel stronger.

  • Maintain your energy by pacing yourself. Start at a comfortable speed instead of going hard right from the start. It is better to start slow and get faster than to start fast and slow down.

·       Be patient. You can’t force fitness, so increase pace or distance only when your body feels ready for it. 

·       Get social. Run with a friend or join a running club.

·       Mix it up. Vary your distances and locations to keep things fresh.

·       Have fun. Enter a road race for motivation and camaraderie—and make it for a good cause! Many road races are fundraisers for charity. 

Fuel Your Run:

·       Hydrate. Hydrating throughout the day before your run is crucial. Make sure to rehydrate once you’re done. 

·       Protein is your best friend after a run. Try grabbing a handful of nuts right after a run or having a protein bar or shake. 

·       Dynamic stretching—when you hold a stretch for only one to two seconds and then release—is better than static stretching right before a run. This will warm up your muscles without straining them before you begin.

Tips for Running Outdoors in Winter:

·       Wear comfortable layers and shed them as you warm up.

·       Cover your hands, ears and head. These extremities have a hard time warming up on their own. 

·       Keep your eyes on the road. Ice can be hard to notice at times, so it is important to stay aware. Leaves are also quite slippery, so you do not want to be running through a big pile of them.

·       Wear bright clothing. Reflector vests are your friend in the shortened daylight hours.