Not all USF students will be able to break the tape of an Olympic marathon with a flag draped around their shoulders and the crowd going wild, but most everyone can reap Olympic benefits from a well-designed running program. Running is cheap, simple and is guaranteed to give healthy results.
Judging from the beautiful, fit people sprinting around campus in short shorts, running makes you look and feel fabulous. But it can also relieve stress, improve concentration, strengthen the immune system, strengthen your bones, keep your heart healthy and improve your mood. If that’s not convincing enough, runners also get to eat more and not gain weight, and they get to meet the beautiful people mentioned earlier.
WHAT YOU NEED
One of the best things about running is that it doesn’t require much gear. All you need is a pair of shoes (and clothes, please!). But running in Converse high tops can be painful (and a reason for some funny looks).
Bill Davidson, owner and founder of Tampa’s Running Center and shoe guru for over 20 years, offered some helpful hints on choosing the right shoes for a budding running career.
“The best thing is to try to find out what your foot type is and then match the shoe type to the foot type,” Davidson said.
Factors such as arch type, weight, training volume and stride pattern help determine what kind of shoe a runner needs.
“Get someone that knows about running to look at your foot,” Davidson said.
Stores such as the Running Center, Feet First or Finish Line have staff who can help find the right shoe. These stores also offer moisture management clothing (such as CoolMax and DriFit), which keep runners cool in the Florida heat.
WHERE TO RUN
Trainer Ben Asmann of the USF Fitness Center suggests the running trails behind the intramural fields as the perfect place to strut the newly acquired accessories.
“It’s a great place to run sprints, and you can also do some hill training,” he said.
If it’s too hot to run outside, indoor treadmills in the USF fitness center offer the Fit 4 You program, which awards prizes for a certain amount of “workout miles.”
Some students, however, prefer to run off campus. Junior Shawn Norris said he likes to run on Bayshore Blvd., in South Tampa or down by the beach.
Bayshore is very picturesque, but tragically far from campus. However, there are some stellar trails closer to home.
Junior Adrienne Gugliotta says she likes to run through Lettuce Lake Park.
The park, located east of USF on Fletcher, is one of the many nearby trails. Also accessible are Trout Creek and Flatwoods Trail, as well as the Morris Bridge Trail (which is also available to mountain bikers who can and will run you over).
All trails are accessible from Fletcher.
HOW TO TRAIN
When starting a running workout, it is important to set goals, such as losing fat, running a faster 5K or setting the world record for running across the United States.
For fat loss, Asmann said that you should do your running bright and early in the morning.
“Jog at a rapid pace and do sprints for explosive speed,” Asmann said.
And although cardio exercise is great for fat loss, he recommends runners looking to slim down or tone up to “mix up cardio and weights” in their training.
For racing, www.runnersworld.com or Hal Higdon’s book “How to Train” offer training programs for races — anything from the mile to the Ultramarathon. Of course, everyone has his or her own theory about training, but most would agree with Coach Mike Boza of Jesuit High School’s State Championship Team:
“The more miles you run, the better you will be … to a point. Listen to your body. Everyone has different limits. Don’t force it,” Boza says.
Tereza Zambrano is a junior majoring in international studies and is also a triathlete.