Comfortable ways to run, bike, and swim in Des Moines for Newbies

When I was in my early 30s, I knew I needed to get fit. I grew up swimming but didn’t know how to ride a bike and couldn’t run a mile. The first time I ran a full lap around Gray’s Lake (1.9 miles) without stopping was as exhilarating as my first half marathon. I learned how to ride a bike in in my quiet neighborhood after dark so little kids wouldn’t seem me wobbling around on two wheels. While I crave regular workouts now, I totally get how awkward it can be when you are just getting started so I wanted to share a few ways I’ve found that are comfortable for people of all fitness levels, especially people just starting out or getting back into the swing of things after a long hiatus.

Des Moines City Ride: A safe, comfortable bike ride

I still swim, and I learned to love running. I can bike well enough to complete triathlons, but biking on streets terrifies me. Not learning how to ride until late in life means I still almost fall off my bike every time I stop and can’t stand up to pedal, weird things most people take for granted. My friend Katy gently nudged me to try the Des Moines City Ride last night after several people told me this was an awesome way to get comfortable biking around Des Moines. Last night we met at Westchester Park on Aurora Avenue and biked as a group to Dogpatch Urban Gardens which will be my new favorite place for produce! It was awesome!

The ride was a nice slow pace so nobody was left behind, great practice biking on streets, family friendly, and everyone was encouraged to use proper signaling. I was able to meet new people and catch up with friends while biking. The group meets most weeks on Mondays to explore a different neighborhood, but check their facebook page and website for the up-to-date schedule.

Lap swim at Ashworth Pool

During regular pool season, Ashworth pool offers lap swim only hours from 12-1 daily. The hours are not well-published so there is usually not a crowd. For newer swimmers, Ashworth’s lap swim time offers a comfortable space to practice without dodging kids and families. The 50 meter length is great if you dread turns and swimming outdoors helps make getting in a workout more of a treat and less of a chore, especially if you use the last part of your visit to enjoy quiet time on the pool deck while you dry off. When I make it to lap swim, I usually notice a range of abilities, from new swimmers and senior citizens just covering a couple lengths of the pool, to triathletes and college athletes training in the off-season. Everyone just does their own thing and has plenty of space.

Fleet Feet run programs and social runs

I’ve always been a fan of Fleet Feet Sports and their run programs and social runs. The employees and volunteer mentors for Fleet Feet are the kindest, most supportive people you’ll ever meet and they welcome both new and experienced runners and walkers to their programs. Whether you’re running to get ice cream or beer, training for your first 5k or your 50th marathon, they have something you’ll enjoy at just the right pace. They’ve even started doing social runs in other areas of the city. Check the Fleet Feet Website page for their upcoming events or stop into the store where they will be happy to invite you to join the fun!

Visit the South Suburban YMCA

Prefer an indoor workout? I’ve found the team at the South Suburban YMCA to be exceedingly welcoming to people of all fitness levels. Some of our spa guests who have never gone to a gym have found a great home at the South Suburban Y and look forward to lap swim, water aerobics, spin classes, and individual workouts. If you’ve never been a “gym person” this might be a good place to start.

Wherever you start out, we’re happy to help you on your journey! Book a massage to help with aches and pains, or any spa service as a healthy reward as you progress toward your fitness goals!

Common foot care questions and solutions for runners

After Dam to Dam, we started seeing more pedicure and massage clients in with black toenails, a curse of distance running!  I’ve personally been upping my mileage for the first time training for a half marathon and can see the importance of good socks, great fitting shoes, blister management and keeping my toenails short.

Based on the experience of our team and friends, we’d like to share solutions to help runners address common foot issues.

Fleet Feet Des Moines Women's Running Group

Fleet Feet Women’s Running Group (photo by Andy Roat)

1. Black Toenails: Many experts recommend making sure your running shoes are about a half size bigger than you everyday shoes, especially in hot and humid weather when feet expand.  Keeping toenails short can also help.  Downhill and distance running are the biggest culprits in causing black toenails that will eventually fall off.  Pedicures can help keep your nails properly trimmed, but start getting them early in your training, not the day before a big race.  If you have black toenails, you can still get a pedicure and polish, but be sure the nail technician is properly trained and treats the nail gently.

2. Calluses: These are a GOOD thing!  If you are training for a race, you need your calluses to prevent blisters.  If you get a pedicure, be sure to tell the nail technician you want to keep your calluses and ask that the time she’d normally be spent softening them go toward lengthening the massage…which you really need!  At our spa, the best choice for runners is a Wellness Pedicure.  The EV Signature Pedicure features a callus softening heel treatment which you don’t want and the Eco Dry pedicure doesn’t include a massage which you need.

The Clarisonic Callus buffer is a gentle way to soften calluses and we use it for clients who want light callus work.

The Clarisonic Callus buffer is a gentle way to soften calluses and we use it for clients who want light callus work.

3. Blisters:  If you have a blister, please tell your nail technician or massage therapist ahead of time so she knows to avoid the area.  Good socks make a world of difference and our friends at Fleet Feet have socks meant to prevent blisters.  I personally started getting blisters during triathlons this summer because of putting my shoes on with wet feet.  I found that soaking my foot in a shallow dish of hot water, a handful of oats, and a few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil (optional) zapped the pain and helped them heal quickly.  You can cut a moleskin adhesive (found at any drugstore) to pad around the blister too.  Just cut out a round or square piece and cut a hole out of the center so you aren’t sticking it to your blister.  This works like a charm!

4. Foot pain:  If you are experiencing foot pain from running, there could be many causes.  First, make sure you are wearing the right shoes and visit a business that can do a professional evaluation and fitting.  You can also try approaches like podiatry, massage therapy, or chiropractic (or a combination) if the pain is limiting your ability to run.  Our therapists can help address issues in the foot, but also tense muscles in the hips and legs that can contribute to foot pain.  If your foot pain is new or you just want to try a short service, book our Therapeutic Foot Massage.  If your foot pain is accompanied by back, hip, leg, and knee pain, you’ll need a longer treatment and we recommend trying the 60 or 80 minute Athletic Edge Sports Massage.

Therapeutic Foot Massage is a deep massage focused on reflex points and areas of tension.

Therapeutic Foot Massage is a deep massage focused on reflex points and areas of tension.

Our goal is to not only help you keep running, but to ENJOY the journey!  If we can answer questions, offer treatments, or refer you to other health professionals like podiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, or experts at shoe fitting, don’t hesitate to ask!

Have Fun, Get Fit, Be Social in the East Village!

We’re excited to share two fun social fitness activities in the East Village!  First, Hoq Restaurant offers a monthly yoga brunch.  Bring your mat, enjoy an all-levels yoga class, and enjoy a continental brunch with healthy farm-fresh items including vegetarian friendly fare.  Check out their next Yoga Brunch on Sunday 7/20!  Details here.

Another great way to get fit while you socialize is to attend the Wednesday evening social runs hosted by Lululemon and Fleet Feet.  They always offer a 3 and 5 mile route and Andy from Fleet Feet swears that even jog-walkers are welcome and encouraged to attend!  He likes to hang out at the back of the pack chatting.  Runners/joggers/jog-walkers can meet on Wednesdays outside Fleet Feet and Lululemon on East 6th Street just across from the spa building.  Who  knows…someday soon you’ll see Cassie and Stacy  joining the fun!

There are so many ways to stay active and have fun with friends…what are your favorites?

Matt Jesson (Cassie's Husband), Cassie Sampson (Spa Owner), Dan Chibnall, and Braxton Pulley (East Village Chiropractic) ran the Midnight Madness Run in Ames on 7/12

Matt Jesson (Cassie’s Husband), Cassie Sampson (Spa Owner), Dan Chibnall, and Braxton Pulley (East Village Chiropractic) ran the Midnight Madness Run in Ames on 7/12