Five Tips For Beginning Runners
Fitness has been a part of my life for decades, but I’m definitely a novice runner, as you might have already learned from reading I Call Myself a Runner. I’m really enjoying this new running lifestyle; I’m managing my weight and stress levels and getting outside. It also doesn’t hurt that running costs nothing and can be done pretty much anywhere, anytime. But, I must say, it’s not just as simple as “go out and run.”
I had tried that method a few times in the past, thinking I could just start running and be ready for a marathon in no time. The results? Stress fractures, shin splints, illnesses, etc. I often had to give up before I could even run 5 miles. This time around, I was forced to really ease into my training.
Last May, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent two surgeries — a double mastectomy in June and reconstruction in October. I was sidelined from all workouts for a few months while recovering. When I got approval from my doctor, I started walking outside. At first just around the yard, then around the block, and then I was doing laps at the park. I eased into running slowly by adding in some intervals of light jogging. At the time, I did some careful research and had the help of a great trainer (the founder of this blog!). Now, I’m logging 20 miles a week, I’m ready for a local 10K race in early May, and I’m planning to run a half marathon before the end of the year.
Without a clear training plan, a novice runner can do too much too fast, which causes excessive stress on the body, bringing an abrupt end to progress. Conversely, some beginners will not put in enough time or distance each week to see conditioning results. Here are five tips to get you started on a running program the right way.
1. Gotta walk before you run
Once you are able to consistently walk for 30 minutes, but cannot yet run for 1 mile, you’re ready to start a running plan.
2. Do intervals of walking and running
Start out with a 10-minute walking warm-up, then walk briskly for 2 minutes, followed by jogging for 30 to 60 seconds. Continue for 10-15 minutes, alternating between 2-minutes brisk walking and 30-60 seconds jogging. Cool down with 5 to 10 minutes walking. Each week increase the intensity a little, decreasing walk time and increasing the jog time of each interval.
3. Be consistent
Building a solid base involves running 3-6 times per week for 6 weeks to 6 months. Start out with 3 sessions per week and build from there.
4. Follow the 10 percent rule
Add no more than 10 percent each week to your total workload. For example, if you run 10 miles this week, next week you should run no more than 11 miles. If you ran a total of 90 minutes last week, this week you should run no more than 99 minutes.
5. Keep a conversation pace
If you use a heart rate monitor, you should be able to find your optimal training heart rate with the help of a personal trainer, the Internet, or the monitor’s user manual. Otherwise, keep your pace at an easy “conversation” pace. You should be able to have a conversation or sing annoying jingles to your running partner while exercising.
Stay tuned for more running tips in the weeks to come. Until then, happy trails!
–Susan Carson, Contributing Writer
(Susan Carson is a businesswoman, certified personal trainer, and black-belt martial artist. Read more about her on the About page.)
Running shoes photo from Timtak on Flickr.