Starting a Running Program
So, are you ready to start running? Great! Before you head out and start running, there are things you may want to read and/or review. Whether this is your first attempt at running or you are getting back after a long layoff (high school track team = long layoff), it is always best to start slow and work your way into a program.
Just going out and running often leads to an unpleasant and disheartening experience. Human nature may cause us to push too hard, try to keep up and therefore get frustrated because of soreness, lack of accomplishment or even injury. Even if you ran in the past, you still need to re-build your conditioning and re-acquaint your muscles to running.
Set your Base
Jeff Galloway, world-class runner and author of several books including "Galloway's Book on Running" and "Getting Started", recommends that new runners begin by establishing a base that builds your foundation for running. For many, this will require that you start by walking.
Set aside 30 minutes daily (or at least 3 times a week) and start walking. Thirty minutes is a great time period to start with for a couple of reasons; Health experts state that 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week is the standard for maintaining good cardio fitness, as long as you work in a good cardio zone. Secondly, thirty minutes of running is a good goal for a 5K (3.1 miles), which is a great first race distance for those starting a running program.
When walking feels comfortable for at least 30 minutes, insert some short intervals of jogging. Depending on your fitness level, you might walk for 5 minutes and then jog for 30 seconds to a minute, repeating this for the entire 30 minutes. Each time you exercise, try to add a few more seconds to your runs or reduce the number of minutes walking (3 minutes walk, 1 minute run for example). A word of caution - Don't overdo it and push too hard.
Remember, there is nobody you need to beat. Determine your most comfortable walk/run sequence and add it to as you continue your program.
Go Walk/Run to Run/Walk
Once you find yourself shortening your walk then run segments, see if you can transition them to run then walk segments. During your workouts try to run continuously for more minutes, talking walk breaks as needed. An example would be 5 minutes running, 2 minutes walking, repeating for your 30 minute routine. As you continue, try to reduce the walk breaks, but don't worry if you need to walk for a bit during your 30 minutes. Even those who run marathons take walk breaks, as you will learn that walking can help you increase your distance and even your time.
Don't worry about Pace
As you start running, don’t worry about your pace. Focus on running comfortably, which means enough so that you can hold a conversation (slightly winded) with someone if they were running next to you. Speed will come, but at first focus on time.
Give yourself Challenges and Rewards
Sticking with a running program requires a positive attitude and affirmations that will keep you motivated. Keep negativity out of your head by setting up some rewards when you reach milestones. At the onset, develop some goals and when you achieve specific goals, give yourself more than a pat on the back. Rewards could be a day off from running, a new piece of running clothing or even a special meal. Knowing that you are working toward rewards can keep you motivated.
We also recommend giving yourself a challenge. Many new runners will sign up for a race like a 5K ahead of time, giving them not only a challenge but a deadline to meet their goals. Sign up for a race about 3-4 months from your program start, depending on your beginning level of fitness. It is always best to remember that for your first race, concentrate on completion, not finishing time. Crossing that finish line is a great achievement and if it is your first race finishing will be a personal best!
Some Helpful Tips
As you start your running program we hope that you will find running to be exciting and yet challenging. Here are some tips that can help you out as your begin to run.
Of course, there is much you can learn about running as you start your program. Check out our Tips & Information Page for a variety of articles to keep you informed and educated.
All the best in your running endeavors and we hope to hear from you on your success. Don't forget our Real People...Real Runners Profiles. We would love to profile you!
7 Things to Remember
Find out some key things to remember, whether you are a beginning or an experienced runner.
Read our Seven Tips to Remember
Here are some of our recommended books by world-class runner and accomplished author, Jeff Galloway.
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