STARTING TO RUN! – TIPS FOR BEGINNING A PROGRAM
LEARN TO RUN AND YOU'LL LEARN TO LOVE IT!
I love running!!! The fresh air experience of enjoying the outdoors, the sun, and the scenery of both nature and city sites is pretty hard to beat! Running is the most flexible sport because you can do it anywhere. Wherever I’ve lived, or any place I’ve traveled to, you can take running with you. Let’s face it, you don’t need a gym or equipment, you just need a good pair of shoes. Running works your heart and lungs like nothing else, giving you a higher quality of life. And then there’s those endorphins … well, if you are the type of person who likes feeling good and are up for a natural high – this sport is for you. Not to mention the great people and comradery you experience on group runs and even at races. It can also be a wonderful solitary experience where you can clear your mind, think, solve problems and experience peace. So you want to start running …
How much should I begin with?
1. BUILD YOUR BASE – 20 min 3X’s / week
When my clients begin a running program, provided that they don’t have any health risks or joint problems, we get started with an EASY 20-minute run. If 20 min seems insurmountable to you, start with 10 minutes of EASY and add a minute or two onto each run until you reach 20 minutes.
Have I emphasized the EASY part? As a point of reference, easy can be your fast walking pace or just a wee bit faster than you walk. You should be able to talk comfortably for most of the run. Right now, it’s not about the pace. When you start, your body is in the process of building more capillaries, and strengthening your heart and lungs so that you can breathe better. You are also training other muscles, as you use different muscles in running than you do in walking. I can’t emphasize enough to go at a slow pace in the beginning.
Remember to do a PROPER WARM UP.
Go for a 3-5 minute walk to gradually get your heart rate up and warm up your muscles. Move your joints through their range of motion by doing ankle circles and leg-swings.
STRETCHING AFTERWARD IS IMPORTANT
Stretch out all the key muscles you worked after your run – your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and Achilles. This will help you recover faster from your workouts, prevent injury, and develop more flexibility for a better stride.
2. ADD A 4TH DAY
Once you are comfortable doing 20 min EASY 3 times a week, add a 4th day.This is still part of building your base.You body is developing more lung capacity, more capillaries (oxygen roads to the body – see April’s blog), and strengthening your running muscles.There is a period of adjustment your body will go through that takes time.Keep at it!
3. ONE LONG RUN
Start increasing one of the runs that you do in a week.This is your long run.The goal is not speed, it’s all about increasing your endurance.Add a minute or two onto your one long run each week.How long you want this run to be up to you.It can be 40, 60, 90 minutes, or longer of course.This will vary depending on your schedule and goals.
4. ADD INTERVALS
I personally don’t like to add intervals until my clients have built a base so that their bodies have adapted to running and they have the capillaries to handle the intervals.Intervals are shorter, faster bursts, followed by slower running or full breaks in between.Interval training is where you can increase your lactic acid threshold and build your speed.It boosts your strength even more and is a great fat-burning exercise.You can do (such as 30 seconds or 2 minute bursts of speed), or (such as 400m or mile repeats).
You can become a very decent runner by going out four times a week with – one long run (to build your endurance and lungs); one interval workout (to increase speed and the body’s tolerance for lactic acid); and two easy runs (to keep that base mileage up). There is more that you can add to your running program, but for now congratulations on starting! You’re doing great!
As an NCAA running coach at Nyack College in New York, I witnessed brand new runners being transformed into excellent athletes. People who could barely run for 10 minutes at a slow pace, within six months worked up to running for two hour runs. The newbie runners on the team shattered their own records and became champion runners.
As a personal trainer, one of my clients wanted to start running in her mid-fifties. She had never done anything like this before and did not consider herself athletic. We started out with an easy, slow 20-minute run (that still, to this day, was her “hardest run EVER!”). Nine months later she lost 40 more pounds and completed a half marathon. Yes, in her mid-fifties!
I am always passionate about new people starting a running program because of my own transformational journey that I’ve had with running. Growing up, I always struggled with my weight – I’m talking from kindergarten onwards. In junior high and high school, although I did play every sport possible in my small town, I still struggled with my weight. After I began running consistently (at the age of 20), I can honestly say that my weight is less than it was in high school and it has stayed within a range of no more than 10 pounds over the past twenty years. I credit a huge part of this to a lifestyle that involves running.