by LuckySun in Start Running, image by Rafa Luque

My thoughts on how to start running

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If you are ready to start an exercise program that will help you lose weight, tone your muscles, stave off disease, and boost your confidence, then running might be your perfect match.  To start running you do not need to be proficient at it.  In fact, you don’t have to have a background in running at all.  There are no prerequisites to being a runner; you just need a pair of good running shoes.

Runners burn a lot of calories, which means that if you have some unwanted pounds to lose, you will probably being shedding them pretty quickly.  Running requires a lot of work from your body, and your body fat will begin to get used up, revealing the muscles that are lurking beneath it.  As your body Is busy burning off the fat, it is also developing a lot more muscle mass.  That new muscle is going to use up more of the calories you consume, and continue burning fat throughout the day.  Building your muscle mass not only looks good, it feel good and helps you stay trim.

Running has also been studied for its health benefits.  One study after another shows that running can help prevent diseases such as: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and others.  Running helps develop the lungs and the heart, builds muscles and bones, and improves your mental health.  Runners also live longer and healthier, with a much lower risk of dying early compared to other healthy adults of the same age.

Does running have risks?  Of course it does, as does just about anything you might do.  But the benefits of running far outweigh any of the risks.  It has long been thought that running was hard on your back, but running develops the core muscles that are necessary to prevent or protect the back.  Many people have found that running consistently has lessened the number of trips to the chiropractor simply because the core muscles are doing a better job.

If you are ready to give running a try there are just a few things you will want to get before you start.  When you are properly dressed, and have the right supplies, your runs will be more enjoyable, and you will prevent injuries that could put a damper on your progress.

Here are some things you should consider purchasing to make sure you are prepared:

Shoes

If you have never spent more than $50 on a pair of sneakers, you might be in for a shock.  A good pair of running shoes will usually set you back $75 to $150 depending on the type of shoe you need.  This isn’t about looking “cool”, it’s about protecting your body from the injuries that frequently happen to people who run without the right shoes.  You can easily end up with tendonitis, stress fractures, shin splints, and other problems if your shoes aren’t adequate.  This is the one thing you should not skimp on when you are getting ready to run.  You can go to a local shoe store to have a stride test done.  They will have you run on a treadmill in the store to analyze the way your body runs.  Based on this information, they can recommend the proper type of shoe for your running style.  People who have pronation issues are more likely to have knee problems, or stress fractures, from wearing the wrong kind of shoe.  This analysis can help you find what you need to prevent unnecessary injuries.

I personally am not a huge fan of barefoot running, but check out Vibram Five Fingers if you’re intrigued by the idea.
RunAddicts also published an article about the pros and cons of barefoot running.

Clothing

Wear clothing that is appropriate for the temperature you will be running in.  In hot weather you want to dress in lightweight clothing that wicks moisture away.  In cold temperatures you will need to dress in layers.  Base layers help keep your muscles warm, and the top layers add more insulation.  By using a removable top layer you can remove it if you start getting too warm.

Get Moving

You need to begin your training by starting out slow.  It might be tempting to just take off and run as far as you can, as fast as you can.  If you do this, you are almost guaranteed to have an injury.  Remember, even though your head might tell you it has everything under control, your muscles need time to adapt, grow, and get stronger.  Your heart and lungs also need to do some developing.  You are best to begin a routine that has you walking and running in intervals, and you also begin by running just three times a week with a day between.

You want to begin your run with 5 minutes of warming up.  You can do this by walking.  This gets your muscles ready for the running, and helps prevent injuries.  You follow the intervals with 5 minutes of cooling down to give your heart a chance to recover.  Each week your intervals will gradually shift to where you will do more running than walking.  Your goal is to get to the point where you can run for 30 minutes without walking.

Beginning Training Program

Week 1: Warm up 5 min. Run 90 seconds, walk 3 min; repeat 5 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 2: Warm up 5 min. Run 2 min, walk 3 min; repeat 5 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 3: Warm up 5 min. Run 3 min, walk 3 min; repeat 5 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 4: Warm up 5 min. Run 5 min, walk 2 min; repeat 4 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 5: Warm up 5 min. Run 7 min, walk 3 min; repeat 3 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 6: Warm up 5 min. Run 8 min, walk 2 min; repeat 3 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 7: Warm up 5 min. Run 9 min, walk 1 min; repeat 3 times.  Cool down 5 min.

Week 8: Warm up 5 min. Run 30 min. Cool down 5 min

If you finish the eight week training program and still have difficulty running the full 30 minutes, you might try adding one extra interval to each week.  You can increase your endurance level by running farther or longer, so when you run for 30 minutes it will be a shorter run, and your body might adapt to it better.

Enjoy!




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