Running Wild!

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    This city loves its runners, and it shows this love by providing some rockin' running events. This year will mark the 98th annual Thanksgiving Day race. And Runner's World ranks the Flying Pig Marathon in its "Top 10 Most Fun Marathons" list.

    043007FEATURE_intext1.jpg With the Flying Pig Marathon coming up this weekend, you might be getting the itch to go for a good run. But, before you do, you need a few key things. First and foremost, you will need good shoes.

    Roncker says you need to come to a shoe-buying experience prepared. "Bring your current shoes with you," he says. "They tell a story about your running patterns." Go to a specialty running store Рlike one of the many Running Spot stores or the Miles and Meters store in Newport Рwhere they measure your feet, are knowledgeable about running and are concerned about getting you in the proper shoe with the correct fit. "Color and appearance is part of the equation, but don’t let it be the overriding principle that determines your shoe purchase," Roncker says.

    In addition to good shoes and socks, Roncker says, these things are specifically important for females:

    1. First and foremost, a good running bra. The Running Spot carries a large selection of running-specific bras by Moving Comfort that offer function and style, and are a full range of sizes. The Running Spot also has compression bras by other manufacturers, particularly Hind and Nike.
    2. BodyGlide, a lubricant that helps avoid chafing. "BodyGlide is a great preventative measure that many of my female friends find essential for long runs (over an hour)," says Roncker.
    3. Running clothes made with wicking fabric. Keeping the moisture away from your skin will keep you feeling cool and fresh, and it's better for your skin as well.
    4. Use your head, and wear something on it! "I never run in warm weather without a headband or hat of some kind to keep the sweat out of my eyes," says Roncker.
    5. Of course, sunscreen. You might have your mind on your run, but all the while, the sun has its rays on your skin. So, protect it with a good sweat-proof sunscreen.

    Okay, you have your gear, but where will you go to break it in? If you've run in Cincinnati before, you're probably familiar with the routes available at Lunken, Hyde Park and the bridges between Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Paths along the Little Miami River, Winton and Sharon Woods and Miami Whitewater Park are all very popular, as well. But the park trails are where you'll find the hidden gems, according to Roncker. "The Park Board has done a very good job of maintaining and improving the paths in the parks," he says. "Ault, French and Mt. Airy parks have a nice network of trails that you use for extensive periods of time."

    Now, you're ready to hit the ground running, but will that run be more effective with a partner, group or just by yourself?

    Group Runs
    Roncker says the type of person that does well with running in a group is a "social" person. "It's fun to have friends to share the run with and to talk to," he says "However, I also find that the group atmosphere makes you almost feel like you're on a 'team.' If you need motivation or accountability to get your running shoes on, a group provides that, too." Groups also come in handy with the logistics of a run. "On longer runs, you can take turns putting out water or deciding on the course, and leading the run," ROncker says. "Many of my best training runs have been with a group." 043007FEATURE_initext2.jpg

    If you're interested in running with a group, there are a number of local running groups in the area that meet on a weekly basis. More details can be found by going to and clicking on "Greater Cincinnati Running and Walking." In addition, training groups leading up to some of the major local races are very popular. Stores like the Running Spot offer training programs most of the year.

    Partner Runs
    Partner runs offer the same benefits of sharing, talking and accountability that you get with a group run. However, partner runs offer a good chance to bond one-on-one with that other person. Roncker says safety is an issue for many female runners, so running with at least one more person is a smart idea for those of you with safety concerns.

    Individual Runs
    "If you have a very social job, work in a high stress field or have a house full of preschoolers, a run alone can provide good 'quiet time' and, of course, the run itself is a good stress-reliever," Roncker says. Other times, it's just a matter of convenience. Some women run alone because no one else will get up that early to run with them, or they run when they can find a window of free time in their sporadic schedules.

    Getting Started
    Roncker says it's essential to educate yourself when taking on a new activity, especially running. See your physician for a check-up to begin, and then learn from the good advice of other runners. There are some great books available on running, specifically for women runners. "Not long after I started running I purchased The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik, which covered most of the basics for me, including stretching, injury prevention, training schedules and nutrition," says Martha Nash, a Running Spot employee. "Nowadays, it's easy to find links from running Web sites that offer loads of advice, too."

    In addition to reading about running, Ronckers says, one of the smartest things a novice runner can do is to join a training group. Becoming a part of a group – like the ones available through the Running Spot – puts you in contact with a coach and mentors who help you learn all you need to know to be successful. "If you do experience any problems, these folks can guide you," says Roncker. "I have had many opportunities to talk with new female runners who have come in the store for shoes and gear. Many of them come to a specialty running store to ask questions and find guidance on how to get started. Collectively, our staff holds a wealth of information and experience that we love to share."