Spring Training: Running for the Non-Runner

mehealth & fitness

I love to run. When I run, the chaos of my daily life becomes a distant echo that lingers at the back of my mind for a few moments until it eventually fades to nothing. Peace and quiet call to me and running brings me there. My friends think I'm crazy. "I could never run", many of them say. How wrong they are! There is no rule book that says a runner must run at a certain speed or travel a specific distance in a certain amount of time. In fact, there are probably people who walk faster than I run! Anyone can run!

There's nothing easier or less expensive than tossing on a pair of sneakers and walking out the door for a run. Whether you choose to set goals and run races or not, the mental, emotional, and physical health benefits from running can be life changing. Why fear the unknown? Every runner starts the same way; they put one foot in front of the other! Why not give it a try?

Getting Started

*As with any exercise or physical activity, you should always check with your doctor prior to starting a new program.

  • Wear Appropriate Footwear: Choose a seamless athletic sock and a running shoe one half size larger than your normal every day shoe. This extra room will leave room for good blood circulation and accommodate any swelling in your feet as your heart rate increases.
  • Keep Yourself Hydrated: Hydrate before, during, and after a workout. I live in Colorado and almost always run with a water belt or, on longer runs, a Camelbak. Staying properly hydrated by drinking water throughout each day will reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
  • Make Sure You Condition: Depending on your current fitness level, you may want to begin walking 2-3 times a week until you are able to walk comfortably for at least 30 minutes. In general, most people find success adding time in increments of 5-10 minutes each week until they've reached the 30 minute goal.
  • Hit the Road: Everyone has a different reason or motivation for running. If you are the type of person who motivates best with a set goal go ahead and sign up for a local 5k race/walk. You can plot your training runs backwards from the day of the race. Your goal should be simple: Finish! There are a hundreds of different methods, schedules, and plans for running published in books and online-there is even a very popular plan titled Couch to 5k (there's even a Couch To Marathon!). I recommend beginning with a run/walk interval method 2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes. Keep your run intervals relaxed and easy, you should be able to carry on a conversation at this pace. The chart below shows a beginner plan I helped a yogi friend create. Each workout started with a 5 minute warm-up followed by run/walk intervals. You can see that by the end of 5 weeks she was jogging for her warm up and the recovery/walk portion of her intervals had dwindled to 1 minute. By Week 6 she was hooked on running and was able to eliminate walking altogether.

  • Schedule Rest Days: Rest days are essential for injury prevention as well as muscle and joint recovery, particularly when you are first starting out. Alternative exercise such as strength training or yoga will keep you active but at the same time give your body a break from the impact of running. Do not underestimate the value of non-running days!

One of my favorite books ever is a book called The Courage To Start, in which the author John Bingham says, "If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run."

How often do you run? If you don't run, what's holding you back? If you do run, why? What kind of enjoyment do you get out of running? What does your running schedule look like on a weekly basis?

Fiona Bryan is a freelance writer and new media marketing consultant in Denver, Colorado. She is the mother of three children and blogs about social media and all things “banter-worthy” at BanteringBlonde.com. Fiona is also founder of the multi-media outreach, MomActive, which strives to motivate and empower women to be positive role models for their families.

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