Many people would call my excitement towards running an obsession I like to call it a passion. Running has been a part of my life for, well, ever. I ran around the neighborhood playing with my friends as a child, I ran in practice and games when I played soccer as a teenager, and as a college student and young adult (yes in my mind I am still a young adult) I ran/run to chase my goal for Olympic gold, or just finish a marathon before I turn 35. Regardless if you want to obtain a flatter tummy, more muscle tone, higher energy levels, weight maintenance, or simply a healthy lifestyle, running has immeasurable benefits and anyone that can walk can run.
I have been asked by friends lately how I got started with running long distances. All the questions have inspired to me write a post about adding running to your life. I am not a running professional, but I have learned through the years from lessons, coaches, and books, a thing or two on taking the first steps at becoming a runner. I would love to open my running treasure chest and share a few of those tips with you today.
As Amby Burfoot has said “all running programs for beginners are the same. They move you from walking, which anyone can do, to running, which anyone can do if they have the determination. The difference between walking and running isn’t speed or biomechanics. It’s determination.” So my friends tie up those determination sneakers, follow the soon to be revealed tips, and you will be a runner in no time flat.
I don’t want to sound too boring, but I must toss out the reminder to make sure you receive a full medical exam before starting any exercise program. Okay I feel better now.
1) Set a realist long term goal.
2) Start working towards your goal. A possible good starting point would be a jog/walk program consisting of 4 workouts per week lasting 20-30 minutes each.
3) Think in terms of minutes when you do your jogging intervals and not miles. The fastest way to fall off a beginning running program is to push yourself too hard too fast. So don’t try to bust out of the gate jogging a mile, try jogging/walking in 2 min. 4 min. intervals respectfully.
4) Don’t try to run, simply focus on a jog, and your jog should be at a pace that is comparable to a fast walk. Make sure you can have a conversation with your jogging buddy, if you can’t slow down your pace.
5) A rule of thumb for a beginner running program is after 10 weeks of working the above program you should be close to running 30 minutes without walking, at which time it would be encouraged to start working on miles per week. Once you are at the spot to think about miles a reasonable mile load per week would be about 9-14
Where should you begin running you ask? That is an excellent question. The best place to start your jog/walk program is at a local track, park trail, or treadmill. These three surfaces allow you avoid the dangers of running on the road, from cars, to the hard surface of concert, to pot holes, and so on. As boring as the track may be it provides a flat soft surface ideal for beginner runners. If you decide to run on city streets refer to ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ item 7.
Amongst all my treasures in my running treasure chest one of the best for beginner runners is a do’s and don’ts list for beginners, designed by Amby Burfoot the winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon. So here you go my friends, enjoy, embraces, use, and conquer your desire to be a runner.
1) Don’t begin a running program without a full medical exam.
2) Don’t attempt to train through an athletic injury. Little aches and pains can sideline you for weeks or months if you don’t take time off and seek medical advice.
3) Do dress correctly. If it’s dark, wear white or, better yet, reflective clothing. If it’s cold, wear layers of clothing, gloves or mittens, and a wool ski cap to retain heat. Sun block, sunglasses, a baseball cap, and white clothing makes sense on hot days.
4) Don’t run in worn-out shoes (check them for broken-down heels or very smooth areas where you push off on your strides). Don’t run in shoes that are designed for other sports, such as basketball or tennis sneaks.
5) Do tell someone where you’ll be running and when you expect to return. Carry some identification and a quarter for a phone call.
6) Do some light stretching exercises prior to your jog/walk workouts to reduce muscle tightness and increase range of motion. You should do even more stretching after the workout.
7) Do watch out for cars, and don’t expect drivers to watch out for you. Always run facing traffic so that you can see cars approaching. When crossing an intersection, make sure you establish eye contact with the driver before proceeding.
8) Do include a training partner in your program, if possible. A training partner with similar abilities and goals can add motivation and increase the safety of your running.
9) Don’t wear headphones when running outside, whether you are training or racing. They tune you out from your surroundings, making you more vulnerable to all sorts of hazards: cars, bikes, skateboarders, dogs, and criminals.
10) Don’t run in remote areas, especially if you are a women running alone. If you don’t have a partner, run with a dog or carry a self-defense spray. Don’t approach a car to give directions, and don’t assume all runners are harmless.
I have one last Amby thought for you to take away. I want you to remember that “you don’t have to finish a marathon, to be a runner. There are lots of great runners who never run 26.2 miles. A runner is someone who runs; it’s that simple-and that grand. Be that someone. Be yourself. Be your own runner, whether the challenge is four times around the junior high track or qualifying and running the Boston Marathon.
Happy running my friends,