Want to get in shape? Try running!
One of the best activities you can do for your heart and body is to take up running. It’s a very effective way of burning calories and to lose some extra pounds. There are many other good ways to get exercise as well, for example biking, swimming, walking, cross-country skiing, and so on. Now, since you are reading this, you may be interested in getting into running, so this article is for you.
It is important to start gently. Running creates quite a bit of stress on your legs; your muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc, but remember this stress is of the good kind. As long as you don’t overdo it, you can benefit greatly from the repeated good stress your legs and body receives while running.
Train – Don’t Strain
The first thing you should do is to get a medical exam. Make sure you are healthy enough to get into an exercise program based on running.
Next, set a simple goal for yourself. Think long-term! Your goal can be to complete the 10 week training program below. Or, it could be to run a 5 kilometer race by the end of summer. Goals are important – they will help you stay motivated and follow through with what you set out to do.
Unless you come from a strong and recent background in some other sport like soccer, tennis or similar physically strenuous sport, start with walking.
Start by walking for:
- 15 minutes the first 5 days, then
- 20 minutes the next 5 days, then
- 30 minutes the following 5 days
This means walking for 15 days in total.
Your most important piece of equipment – the running shoe. Make sure you have adequate shoes! Go to a running specialist shoe store and ask for help. A good running store will check your feet to see if you pronate or supinate and analyze your running style. They should give you some options based on the analysis of your feet. Make sure you try several pairs, so you can determine which ones fit best. A comfortable fit is very important; you can’t have a shoe that is uncomfortable, or you will stop running pretty quick.
You need enough room in the front of your shoe for your toes, about the width of your thumb should go between your big toe and the front edge of the shoe.
There is no best running shoe. Every runner is different – models and brands are different as well. What is needed is to match you with a running shoe that has the features you need. A quality running store can do this. If they can’t, go somewhere else.
Your 10 week running program
After the 15 day “warm-up” of walking, you can start introducing short runs. Here is a 10 week training program:
Do these workouts 3 days per week. For example, do your workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.
Take Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays off.
|1||2 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking. Repeat this 4 times|
|2||3 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking. Repeat this 4 times.|
|3||4 minutes of running, 4 minutes of walking. Repeat this 4 times.|
|4||6 minutes of running, 4 minutes of walking. Repeat this 3 times.|
|5||6 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking. Repeat this 3 times.|
|6||8 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking. Repeat this 3 times.|
|7||10 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking. Repeat this 2 times.|
|8||12 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking. Repeat this 2 times.|
|9||15 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking. Repeat this 2 times.|
|10||30 minutes of running.|
Does it feel difficult?
If you feel the last few weeks before week 10 are hard, repeat week 8 or 9 one extra time before you do week 10.
Now you can run for half an hour! Thumbs up for you!
Next thing is to set a new goal, maybe to run a 3 miler or a 5 miler. Remember, set reasonable goals.
A Place to Run
Where should you go for your runs? Avoid asphalt and hard surfaces as you get started. It is very easy as a beginner to to get injured running on hard surfaces. Try to find a trail system with packed dirt or grass, but make sure the footing is even. Grass fields can be okay, but grass can be uneven so you want to be careful of tripping and hurting yourself.
A treadmill is another option, but I recommend alternating between the treadmill and some other soft but even surface. Treadmill running can be monotonous for your legs, so alternating with running outside is a very good idea.
Running on a track is another option. Some find it very boring to run around and around, but the surface is quite good and you can determine exactly how far and how fast you run by counting your laps.
Don’t give up!
It is easy to feel like it’s too hard. Don’t give up – it gets easier and easier the more you stay with it. After a few weeks, you will feel it is not as hard as it used to be.