With the onset of the warmer weather one can focus on getting started with a running program. With that said, I met a youngster who ran competitively in her first race and did very well. It can be very exciting for a young runner to start being part of the “Running Fraternity”.

Running, which is a part of most sports, can help develop the energy system that is needed for competition. Each athlete must think ahead and make a game plan that he or she wants to achieve from a sport. The beginner athlete must remember that athletic performance is the result of many years of training. Therefore, the most important factor in beginner programs is patience.

Practice time is necessary to train hard for the forthcoming competitive season. The importance of hard training should now be placed on mental awareness and all-out physical readiness. This holds true for all sporting events. Since many events are either won or lost during the finishing moments, this is when the intensity of all the training sessions pays off. However, the training sessions must be regulated if performance fails or pain or tightness becomes evident. We have to watch for the signs and symptoms of overtraining and exhaustion. Athletes build strong bodies, but the body needs time to rest and rebuild tissue.

Some of the warning signs of over-stressing the body include fatigue, decrease in performance, and signs of a sore throat accompanied by muscle and joint stiffness. At times, there can be a loss of appetite, headaches and irritability.

What is the best way to know when the body needs rest and recovery or when you are risking injury? An over trained athlete may have a difficult time getting to sleep. They may also awaken during the night and find it harder to get up in the morning.

As the body fatigues, injuries are sure to follow. For example, pain and swelling can lead to a bump or lump in the Achilles tendon or pain in the knee or legs that will continue through the training session.

Learn to know your body’s early warning signals. It is important to take your pulse while you are in bed, as your pulse rate can be a good indicator of overtraining. If your morning rate is 10 beats or higher than average, use it as a guide to signal overtraining and fatigue. It is a good day to take it easy or rest completely.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathon & has a practice in Darien; affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle. For info visit his Web site at www.stamford

healthmedicalgroup.org, and find a Physician-Dr. Robert F. Weiss.