You’ve been thinking about getting into the running game on and off now for a few years now. Is 2019 the year that it actually happens? You’ve been keeping tabs on the big races like the Boston Marathon or the New York City Marathon and wondering if you have what it takes to tackle an event like that yourself. Heck, seeing people running along the park paths that lead up into the mountains have you day-dreaming about that person being you and imagining yourself moving out along those paths enjoying the sunshine and seeing sights that your just not going to find yourself encountering along your regular suburban route to work.
Whatever the reason your deciding to embark on making running your exercise of choice, whether its to lose some weight, get your blood pressure down and under control, or just to put an end to couch potato reputation you’ve acquired over the last few years, if your thinking about it this much, well then its just time to go lace up a pair of sneaks and start pounding the pavement!
Follow these beginner running tips for finding your footing and you could very easily discover that running can become a stimulating motivator to help you not only get in better shape, but also provide the means to improve your outlook on everyday life and everything that comes your way.
You can spend all week/month/year thinking about it and browsing the web for tips and plans, or you can just get out there regularly. “The biggest thing you need to do when you first start out is establishing a routine. Research has proven that for anything to become a part of your daily regimen is to do a new activity for a period of at least 3 weeks. Once that period has passed your body becomes accustomed to doing this and it becomes easier to find yourself waking up, getting dressed and lacing up those shoes and heading out the door.
Forget about hitting a certain pace (turn that watch around!), ditch the idea of reaching a certain distance, and instead, just set a time goal. A good beginner running target is to get outside or on a treadmill for 20 minutes, three days a week. Eventually, aim to build up to four days, and then you can bump 20 minutes to 25 and so on. In this way your adding both time and distance to your regular routine and providing the means for your body to work its way into becoming accustomed to pushing itself a little further over a period of time.
A good way to track your progress as your body becomes accustomed to your new training lifestyle is to use a good running, GPS enabled running watch. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smart Activity Tracker is a great choice for tracking your runs and providing you with a few features that just may make your run easier to dissect so that the information it provides you with can aid you in performing better and better.
It’s here, at the beginning, where many new runners stumble. You think, “Today, I’m going to start running!” and out the door, you go with the best of intentions—but maybe not the best preparation. Four minutes later, everything hurts, and you feel like you are dying. Don’t despair. Whether you’re fresh off the couch or coming from another sport, running takes time to break into.
“Every able-bodied person can be a runner,” says Gordon Bakoulis, a running coach based in New York City. “Just start slowly and build up gradually.” Most coaches agree that the best way to become a runner is with a run-walk program.
With that 20-minute target in mind, focus on a few minutes of running, followed by a period of walking. Run for three minutes and walk for one minute—continue to alternate until you reach the time goal, always ending with a walking segment to cool down.
If you’re not comfortable with just a one-minute walk between rounds, it’s OK to start with four minutes of walking and just two minutes of running as an alternative or try this 10-week walk-run plan below.
10-Week Run-Walk Plan
Start and finish each workout with five minutes of walking. Then, alternate the following run/walk ratios for 30 minutes.
Week 1: 2 minutes running/4 minutes walking
Week 2: 3 minutes running/3 minutes walking
Week 3: 4 minutes running/2 minutes walking
Week 4: 5 minutes running/3 minutes walking
Week 5: 7 minutes running/3 minutes walking
Week 6: 8 minutes running/2 minutes walking
Week 7: 9 minutes running/1 minute walking
Week 8: 13 minutes running/2 minutes walking
Week 9: 14 minutes running/1 minute walking
Week 10: Run for 30 minutes!
No matter how long you’re going for, think about reaching a 6 to 7 out of 10 in terms of your exertion level during those run periods, then dial it down to 2 or 3 during the walk. The means you should still be able to have a conversation during those three-minute run periods.
Consider Proper Technique
Treat yourself like a runner—from day one. That means taking time to properly warm up and cool down. “A good warm-up makes it much easier to get going and keep going,” says Andrew Kastor, former coach of the official New York City Marathon online training program. “It’s much more than just boosting blood flow to your muscles.” Your neuromuscular system, which involves your brain telling your muscles how to contract, gets up to speed. Your body starts churning out fat-burning enzymes, which help your aerobic system work more efficiently. Synovial fluid warms up, which helps lubricate your joints. How’s that for a bit of trivia that you may hear mentioned on Jeopardy?
“Too many beginners skip this step without realizing how much easier it makes the whole workout feel,” Kastor says. Cooling down, while less critical, allows your body to gradually adjust from running back to a resting state. “Just a few minutes of walking is all you need to let your heart rate return to normal and for your body to clear out any metabolic waste you created during your efforts.
Explore New Places
An easy way to keep your motivation up on the run is finding a new area to explore. Like seeking out interesting parks or places you haven’t seen before. You want to get moving, with your new running activity and running in new spaces is a great way to stay motivated which will help you in maintaining your new running lifestyle.
It even helps to explore different running surfaces. Runners often have strong opinions about where to run, but the best solution for you as a new runner may be to simply mix it up. The options include new roads, park paths, urban greenways, dirt trails, your local track, that huge neighborhood hill, the gym treadmill, and more.
When you feel comfortable running 20 to 30 minutes at an easy pace (when your exertion level drops below 6, and you feel confident in taking it up a notch), then it’s time to increase the challenge. Your next step is to either extend your total workout time or the number of runs each week. But choose just one option at a time.
For instance, you could aim to go for 30 minutes instead of 20. Or run four times a week instead of three. A very important rule of thumb: Increase your total weekly time or distance by no more than 10 percent from week to week. For example: If this week you ran 90 minutes total, you’ll run 99 next week. Or if you ran 10 miles total this week, you’ll run 11 total next week.
It’s easy to overdo it on the days you feel good, or when you’re running with a faster friend. But doing too much too soon is a classic rookie mistake that can lead to injury and burnout. “When you’re first starting out, your goal should just be to have fun. Once you’re running consistently, you can add days until you’re running five days a week or more.
So there you have it, making 2019 your “Break Out” year can provide you with the means to add some much needed physical activity into your life, and who knows, you may just find yourself in that Boston Marathon in a year or two!