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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Running: For Beginners

Remember when Amanda gave her best advice on training for a race? If you missed that post, you can check it out here.

What if you’re totally new to running, or you consider yourself a beginner (like me) and not quite ready to train for a race? Recently I’ve been trying to push myself to run more in order to get myself in better shape to play volleyball this fall. I’m definitely not a running pro and I’ve never done any running competitions or races (aside from a short-lived stint with track in junior high), so I want to pass along some tips to help get you started if you’re interested in starting a running regimen.
  1. Start very slowly. In fact, don’t start out running at all. Start with a walking program. Whether it’s on a treadmill or outdoors, try walking for 20 or 30 minutes a few times per week. Walking is great exercise too and it will help get you used to moving. If you go from never running to forcing yourself to go all out, you could injure yourself.
  2. Once you’re comfortable walking for 20 to 30 minutes at a time several times per week, it’s time to jog. When you head out for your next walk, make it a point to jog for a few minutes of your total time. If you’re out for a 30 minute walk, walk for five minutes and jog for one. Alternate that way until you reach your goal time. It’s important to do what you’re comfortable with, and not to push yourself too hard at first (there’s plenty of time for that later). Each time you head out to walk, slowly increase the total amount of time that you spend jogging. Another approach is to start jogging right off the bat and see how far you get. When you get tired, continue walking. Next time out, make it a goal to jog a little farther than you did last time.
  3. If you have a specific distance in mind that you’re working toward, try downloading an app to help you keep track of your progress. Right now I’m using MapMyRun. It uses your phone’s GPS to track your location and the distance you’ve gone. It also keeps your time and gives you good information about your pace. You can also try a C25K (couch to 5k) program. If you’re not good at figuring out the right combination of walking/jogging during those first few stages, a C25K program will lay it all out for you and get you to your goal in a matter of weeks. Once you are comfortable with jogging for an extended period of time, try picking up the pace.
A few final tips:
  1. Warm-up before each walk/run and thoroughly stretch afterward.
  2. If you can incorporate a weightlifting program into your exercise routine, I highly recommend it! I’ve noticed that the more leg exercises I do, the farther I’m able to run and the better I get at it.
  3. If you’re sore, take the day off.
Last thing to keep in mind – it won’t be easy. Sure, there are some people who have never run before who could go outside and run three miles. If you’re like me and that’s not possible for you, it’s going to take some work. You will inevitably get frustrated at some point, but just keep going. Good luck!

Have you recently started a running program? Let us know in the comments!

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