I sat down with Christine Brens, a Sustainer in the Junior League of Chicago (JLC), to share some of her favorites tips and advice for running. I met Christine a few years ago through Health Starrs, the JLC committee responsible for promoting running and wellness in children ages 3-18. Christine and I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile together which was just the start of her running career. She has since run several half marathons, runs with Chicago Endurance Sports (CES), and was a part of Winter Warriors! Brrr, I shiver just thinking about that! She is tough!
I am delighted to share some of her valuable insight into running, and her helpful tips that can transform literally anyone from couch to 5K. Since the Chicago Marathon is just around the corner, we’re hoping this article will give you some added advice whether you are running the marathon, or looking for a little encouragement to start running!
CT: How did you get into running?
CB: I did my first run in 2011; I started running with a friend as a way to exercise and loved it. I’ve been running ever since.
CT: Where are some your favorite running paths?
CB: My favorite running path is the path along the lakefront. I typically only do that path. I’ve run as far north as Hollywood, and as far south as Hyde Park.
CT: Tell us about CES and Winter Warriors.
CB: CES (Chicago Endurance Sports) is the running group I run with. They offer straight runs and run/walks at varied paces. CES offers different training programs throughout the year.. CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) is another large running program in the city. Joining a running group is a great way to learn tips and to go on organized runs with others, which really keeps you going. Winter Warriors is the winter training program which trains runners for a destination run in a warm place each winter.
CT: How does one get involved with CES?
CB: You can register for the run programs from the group websites. Cost varies depending on program. Visit Chicago Endurance Sports for more information including information on Winter Warriors, which is the Chicago winter running program.
CT: What are your tips to avoid injuries?
CB: The key to avoid injury is to cross train which keeps your body strong. Exercises that keep your calves, hamstrings, hips, etc. strong are key to keeping good running form which also prevents injury. It’s also important to do a quick warm up before running and to stretch after. If you are thinking of getting involved in distance running, foam rollers are a must!
CT: Is there a right way or wrong way to run?
CB: Yes, definitely. Good running form comes from keeping good posture, shoulders back and head up rather than bending down. When your body starts to lose good posture other muscles start to compensate and that’s when injury can occur. A good training program can help you with running form and keeping your posture.
*Author’s note: Good running shoes are absolutely essential also. I recommend Fleet Feet or Universal Sole. You can actually run on a treadmill so you can determine how the shoes feel in action.
CT: Are there any good upcoming runs you can tell us about?
CB: There are many upcoming runs in Chicago this fall. I usually do the Hot Chocolate 10K race each year, which is a lot of fun. There’s also a race in Lincoln Park called Pumpkins in the Park 5K. The Chicago Marathon is coming up registration has already closed, but there are still many volunteer opportunities available. December has a few holiday runs, and there’s a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day in Lincoln Park.
Christine is currently trying to convince me to sign up for Winter Warriors with her this winter, so I may be giving that a try. I definitely recommend googling some Chicago runs to find ones that are of the most interest to you. Remember, you can always do a run/walk as well, so remember to take it easy if this is your first time participating in a run. There is nothing quite like the positive energy surrounding a race which is so inspiring.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Happy running!
By Caroline Fanger Thompson, 2014-15 Topics & Trends staff member