Ready to start running? Here’s how to get started.
Running is a great activity, regardless of age or fitness level. How fast should I run? How will it feel? The key is to make it fun and keep it simple. When you do, running becomes a habit for life.
REWARDS OF RUNNING:
- More energy
- Higher metabolism
- Better immune system
- Lose weight
BEFORE YOU START
Before starting any exercise program, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor, especially if you have any health risks, such as the following conditions:
- Chest pain when performing physical activity
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Heart, blood condition
- Shortness of breath
- Bone, joint or ligament injuries
- Daily prescribed medication
STEP 1: SET YOUR GOALS
Start off by setting weekly goals. How long will you run, and how many runs per week will you commit to for the next 3 months? By setting goals for yourself, you are holding yourself accountable to making the time for your runs. Example: Goal is to run at least 3x per week, starting with run 1 minute / walk 1 minute, build up to running 10 minutes continuously, with 1 minute recovery (walk).
STEP 2: GET YOUR GEAR
Here’s a quick primer for your running shoe purchase. It’s always a great idea to visit a running shoe store that focuses on fit. They can evaluate your feet and determine what shoes will be best for you!
A well-cushioned shoe is often the best choice for most runners with good bio-mechanics on all surfaces. Stability shoes are designed for mild over-pronaters or gravel trails. Minimalist shoes are good for track workouts and short distances – they give your muscles a better workout. Motion control shoes are not recommended – better to train to improve your bio-mechanics and run with less supportive shoes like stability shoes.
Other gear to think about: Dry-fit socks, shirts, anything non-cotton, shorts, skorts, Capri tights. Women – consider a well-fitted Sports Bra, to avoid back pain.
STEP 3: START RUN/WALKING
Run and walk according to your body and your starting point/starting fitness level.
It’s good to start and finish every running workout with 5-10 minutes of walking to prepare your body for the demands of running. Before your run, start out at an easy walking pace, and build to a brisk walking pace by the end of the 5 minutes. Reverse that at the end of your run with a brisk walking pace that gets slower towards the end of your cool down.
After the warm-up, start to run until you can hear your breathing and you are just outside your comfort zone. Focus on your breathing and how your body is feeling rather than the minutes or even the distance. Doing so will teach you how to pace yourself naturally.
A basic rule of thumb is to start with 1 minute running, 1-2 minutes walking to recover.
Do this for 2-3 sessions or more, then increase running to 2 minutes, walking for 1 minute. Next increase to running 3 minutes, walking 1 minute. If any of these increases feels too hard, go back a step until you’re comfortable increasing the run/walk ratio. Don’t rush it. You should stay in this step for 2-3 weeks or more.
Build up to running 10 minutes continuously with 1-minute recovery. As your body builds fitness, the running will seem easier, and your recovery from each run segment will be faster.
STEP 4: RUN CONTINUOUSLY
Increase your continuous running stretches each week by no more than 10%. As the weeks go by, increase your running until you can do 30-40 minutes of running at a time, 3-4 days a week.
Once you have increased your running to 30-40 minutes at a time, designate one run a week as your “long run.” gradually increase total distances no more than 10% per week. Goal is to complete a 5km or 10km long run at the end of the 3 month training period.
Once you’ve got endurance, you can add some hills to your program. Add hills gradually, and eventually you can add hill repeats. To do hill repeats, run hard up the hill, then easy down the hill, and do 3-5 repeats.
After you have added hills, do a speed workout once a week. A speed workout incorporates intervals of 1-2 minutes of medium-hard running, with 1-2 minutes of easy running. These speed workouts should be shorter than your normal runs. If you run for 40 minutes, do 25-30 minutes for your speed workouts. Be sure to warm up and cool down with easy running for 10 minutes.
STEP 5: BUILD YOUR STRENGTH
Once you have a solid base, progress to track training. Incorporate some of these workouts on the track:
- mile repeats, 3-5x
Make sure to get a great cooldown after your workout!
Increase the intensity and speed of your hill training. 300-600m hills, start with 2 repeats and build up to 9 max.
Plyometrics(leg drills): Marching; can-can; grape vine; high knee kick; bounding; butt kick; side hop; bunny hop; single leg hop; lunges.
Cross training, cycling, swimming, ball games, gym.
INJURY PREVENTION TIPS
Listen to your body. Slow down or stop if you feel any pain or the effort seems too hard. Push harder when your body feels good. Work on improving your running bio-mechanics. Wear shoes that fit well. Avoid over-training. Proper nutrition and hydration will keep your body healthy!
Pace yourself, and build up gradually. Follow the 10% rule when increasing your running/training time. Warm up, stretch gently before the run, throughout and after the run. Ice sore muscles within 24hrs. Rest is as important as training, never put hard workouts back to back.
If you are having a hard time with motivation, find a training partner, or join a running group. Mix things up. This will help you stay on track and be accountable!
Find new routes. Don’t always run the same routes. Run on a track, in a different neighborhood, on a treadmill, on trails.
After you’ve done a few 5Ks, sign up for a 10K. Then a half marathon. Then a marathon. One step at a time!
Most of all, enjoy your runs!
Link to training programs with Running Room:
-By Rick Chiu, Evolve Therapeutic Massage Therapist and avid runner