Metro Parks provide ideal places to start a walking or running routine

A group of eager participants set out on the trail at Blacklick Woods for a Metro Five-0 Walk and Run 101 program. (photo Rachel Dean)

On a slightly brisk, yet sunny March day, a group of women keen to start a walking or running routine met at Blacklick Woods’ Beech Maple Lodge for a Metro Five-0: Walk and Run 101 program. They were greeted by Metro Parks Outreach Naturalist Karen Ricker and Columbus Running Company’s Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dillahunt.

The program, for people age 50 and older, was designed to help participants find the right routine for them, no matter their previous experience or ability. Lisa told everyone that the hardest step can be the first one you take, but that this one step can change your life. She concentrated on three key things to be aware of when starting a walking or running routine—shoes, form, and being consistent.

A line of colorful shoes were placed on a table and Lisa explained that starting off with the right shoe when starting and walking or running routine is crucial. “The best shoe for you, is the one that makes you the best. If something starts to hurt during the training process, you need to take a closer look at your shoes.”

Proper form is crucial to minimize physical stress and potential injury. You should always walk with purpose—keep your arms up, take short strides, and always propel your body forward.

Consistency is another key for fitness and avoiding injury. Lisa stressed that rest days are important for your body, but that cross training—doing other exercises on non-walking rest days—is important as well.

A former Navy corpsman, who participated in the program, found it very encouraging. “This was the perfect thing to get me out in the parks, and hopefully I will be able to shoot for a 5K eventually. It’s very encouraging that training doesn’t have to be all at once, and I know if it hurts I should stop.”

Metro Five-0 programs, for people age 50 and older, are offered at most of the parks. They are rated by difficulty level:
LEVEL 1 Fully accessible. Stationary and/or move at own pace.
LEVEL 2 Less than one mile, mostly flat, may include unpaved or uneven terrain, slow pace.
LEVEL 3 Up to 2 miles, some hills or uneven terrain and/or moderate pace.
LEVEL 4 More than 2 miles. Hills and/or uneven terrain. Strenuous pace.

Look for these programs in Parkscope magazine or online in our searchable program database

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