Thinking about running? Here's what every new runner should know.
By Dr. Brian Hay, DPT, MS, OCS
Now that you've made the decision, just like any new activity, it's important to approach it with a plan. Often, many people start running but easily become turned off, simply because they run too much too soon and end up sore and frustrated.
The key to starting a running program is to just be patient.
Your initial goal is to be a tortoise, not a hare.
Evaluate your current fitness level to make sure you start from where you are, not from where you want to be. Before introducing running to your exercise program, you should be able to comfortably walk for 30 minutes every other day (3-4 times a week). Once you are able to do this, running can be added.
If you start the exercise plan below and it doesn’t feel right, then reduce the jogging time to 30 seconds or 10 seconds, you can even decrease the total time spent exercising. Make your exercise work for you and make it enjoyable! The key is to go out and just try some jogging, whether it’s a few steps, a few minutes, or a few miles. Learning to run is just like learning any new activity – it takes practice.
Always begin your workout with a five-minute walk to help prepare your body for the increased demands of running. During the run use the “talk rule”: you should be running at a pace that is comfortable enough to hold a conversation. If you are struggling to do so or find yourself short of breath, you are working too hard. SLOW DOWN! Finally, always end your workout with a 5-minute walk to allow your body to cool down and return to its baseline, followed by 5 minutes of stretching.
If you’re not sure where to start, try out the eight-week program below:
Sometimes, people are so motivated to get fit or start running that they go from running 0 minutes a week to running 30 minutes a day, every day of the week.
Even if your lungs and heart seem capable of handling this, your body will definitely suffer if you ramp up like this. Your musculoskeletal system – basically all the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your body – become very used to what you do every day. These structures need time to adapt and grow. Repetitive stress or shock to the system – like starting an intense running program from nothing - generally leads to injuries, since the body does not have time to adapt to the changing circumstances.
Starting and going slowly, even if it tests your patience, is important! It gives your muscles time to learn what running is. It gives your feet, ankles, and legs time to build up the muscles and structures you need to withstand running. It even gives your joints the chance to prepare for longer and faster running distances. If you help your body prepare for running, you’re less likely to get injured, more likely to succeed, and you’ll be more likely to stick with running long term!
-Learn more about Dr. Brian Hay here!
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