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Conquer the Bridge Run: Part 1 of 3

Roper St. Francis Healthcare podiatrist Dr. Jeff Armstrong offers a 3-part series to help you meet your Bridge Run goals.

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Spring is springing, and perhaps giving you more spring in your step, and that of course means Charleston’s annual Cooper River Bridge Run is around the corner.

If getting in better shape was one of New Year’s resolutions, then a challenge like the Bridge Run is a perfect opportunity. Whether you are an avid runner or a newbie, the Bridge run can be accomplished. All you need is a little planning and preparation to achieve this goal and enjoy it.

One important tip: don’t compromise on correct footwear. For best advice, avoid the big box shoe stores and head to a reputable locally owned running store where trained professionals can do a gait analysis, assess your requirements and suggest suitable shoes for your running style and gait.

Correct Exercise Protocols

Following correct exercise protocols is key to getting the most out of your training while helping avoid injury.

  • Warm up for five minutes minimum: Warming up before you work out or run raises the heart rate and gets the blood flowing into the muscles. You could just walk for five minutes and gradually increase the pace as you go.
  • Stretching and mobility: Loosening up the joints and muscles is also an important component to prevent injury. Some light stretching can be done before a workout as well as after to maintain suppleness in the muscles.
  • Cool down: The cool down is a lower intensity exercise such as light jog and then walking. This allows the body temperature and heart rate to decrease. During this time the waste by-products of exercise will be flushed from the muscles and tissue aiding in recovery.

woman running

Training Program

So if you’ve made the decision to run, here’s a structured plan that will convert you from a beginner to a fitter, healthier and successful runner.

A multi-week training program for beginning runners offers a gentle approach. If the first week of training is too vigorous then you can walk/run during this period. Walking is an excellent exercise and during your running workouts anytime you feel tired or need a break feel free to walk. Some things to keep in mind:

  • On the running days, don’t worry about how fast you run, just cover the distance. Run at a pace that is comfortable for you and over the weeks your time will improve.
  • Rest days are important and crucial to recover from hard workouts. You cannot train well if you are fatigued.
  • Cross training days: This could involve swimming, walking, biking or other forms of aerobic training.

Training schedule:
Weeks 1 – 3: Run three days a week: Tuesday 2.5 miles; Thursday 2 miles; Sunday 3 miles.
Week 4 – 5: Increase the mileage on Tuesdays to 3 miles and Sunday to 4 miles.
Week 6 – 7: Increase Sunday run to 5 miles and 5.5 miles in seventh week.

Cross fit days are Monday 30 minutes and Friday 40 minutes. In the fourth week increase times to 35 minutes and 50 minutes. Increase times in the sixth and seventh week by 10 minutes.

On Mondays and Fridays, enjoy a “rest day” and don’t run. Do walk, if you like, and stretch.


By Dr. Jeff Armstrong a podiatrist with Roper St. Francis Physician Partners
Read part 2 of the series, Bridge Run Prep

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