Start Running

You probably have a job where you sit at a desk or stand around.  You aren't very active.  You want to start some kind of exercise program where you can get back in shape.  Well, you have come to the right place.  A lot of us were there not too long ago.  Now we run, we are in great shape, and we are loving life.  You can too.

What do you need to do?  Well, first you need to decide you really want to do it.  If you can find someone else who wants to do it with you that is even better.  You can do it together and when you don't feel like it you will anyway, because you have a friend waiting for you.  If you don't have someone else to join you, that is OK too, you can still do it.

The first step is just to decide you are going to do it.  You are going to go out, maybe just every other day at first, but you are going to go out and spend about 20 minutes (to start) every other day.

Where Are You Starting From?

I am overweight and way out of shape - You need to start at the very beginning.  You need to go out and walk for at least 20 minutes every other day.  You also need to watch what you eat.  The secret to dieting is not rocket science.  You are balancing calories in versus calories out.  Walking every other day will help with the calories out.  In not only burns calories, but exercise raises your base metabolism, meaning your body will burn more calories even when you are resting.

There is a magic number: 3,500 calories equals one pound.

If you burn 2,500 calories per day and eat 2,000 calories per day, you are running a 500 calorie per day deficit,  That means you will lose a pound per week.  That isn't huge, but if you keep it up for a year, that is 52 pounds!

Don't be confused by water weight.  Most of the trend diets, like Atkins, depend on dehydration.  If you sweat out a pound of water, you lose a pound.  However, if you drink a glass of water it's back.  The secret is not sweating.  (Well, exercise is great, but water loss is not the key.  You want to lose fat!)  Boxers and wrestlers often lose 10 pounds before a match but gain it back in a day.  You need water.  You don't need fat.

Once you start eating a healthy diet, consisting primarily of carbohydrates and proteins and start walking every other day, you will lose weight.  However, don't get discouraged if you don't lose weight the first 2 weeks or so.  Often when you start an exercise program you replace fat with muscle and have no net loss initially.  That is OK, the pounds will fall off soon.

If this is where you are starting from, keep walking until the pounds come off and you start getting in shape.  During this period, you should also increase the time you spend walking and once it feels easier, start adding more days per week until you are walking 5 days per week and have gotten down to a "normal" weight, whatever that means for you.  Just know that if you are overweight, running is probably not for you, but it will be soon!  Just stick with it.  If you keep walking and watching what you eat, you start feeling better and the pounds will come off.  You are becoming an athlete!

I am not overweight and I am ready to start running - OK, you are not running currently, but you are ready to.  Keep reading.

Step one: Go to a running specialty store and have them fit you with the right shoes.  Here is our page to find a store near you http://www.fleastcoastrunners.com/Store.html.  If you don't see a store near you, look in the yellow pages for one.  The reason you need to go there is that running specialty stores can help assess whether you tend to roll your foot inward (pronate) or not.  This determines what kind of shoe you need.  It is also important that you get a good running shoe, not the $29.95 shoes at your local department store.  Believe me, your knees and everything else will thank you.  Not only do you need new shoes, you will eventually have to replace them.  A shoe lasts about 6 months or about 300 - 500 miles, whichever comes first.  The rubber in your shoe continues to cure and harden with age.  Once they get old, they are not providing the cushioning that you need.

Step two: Get started.  Go out and try it.  If you haven't been running at all, you will have to work your way into it.  Our suggestion is to start with easy jogging for one minute, followed by one minute of walking.  Follow this pattern for 20 minutes and then walk another 5 minutes to let your body gradually cool down.  Do this every other day for a week or two.  Then try bumping it up to 2 minutes of jogging followed by 1 minute of walking repeated for 20 minutes and the same 5 minute walk cool down.   The next week bump it up to 3 minutes, and 4 the following week.  Follow this pattern, assuming it doesn't feel too hard.  If it does, stay at the same level for an extra week.  If it is too easy, you can jump ahead in the pattern.  Just be careful that you don't jump ahead too fast and get injured.  Your body needs to adapt.

In each of the runs, if it doesn't come out even, that is OK.  Just follow the pattern until you get to the total time and then walk for 5 minutes.  For example, in week 7, the pattern would be 10, 1, 10, 1, 3, (=25 min total) then walk.

Week

Run Interval

Walk Interval

Total Run/Walk

Cool Down

1

1 min

1 min

20 min

5 min

2

2 min

1 min

20 min

5 min

3

3 min

1 min

20 min

5 min

4

4 min

1 min

20 min

5 min

5

6 min

1 min

25 min

5 min

6

8 min

1 min

25 min

5 min

7

10 min

1 min

25 min

5 min

8

12 min

1 min

25 min

5 min

9

15 min

1 min

25 min

5 min

10

18 min

1 min

25 min

5 min

11

25 min

-

25 min

5 min

If you make it to the end of this schedule, you are a runner!

Step three: You can stay at this level of running 25 minutes every other day and you will be fit and feel great.  That is about all you need for basic fitness.  You could choose to supplement your running with a little bit of weight training at your local gym or calisthenics at home (push-ups, sit-ups, etc), if muscle tone is important to you.  Running does great things for your cardiovascular system and for the lower half of your body, from your butt to your calves and everywhere in between.  However, it doesn't do a lot for your upper body.

You also have the choice of increasing your running even more or trying to run your first 5K.  You could probably make it through a 5K now.  Or you could do a few more weeks of 25 minutes every other day, possibly  bumping up the time a couple of minutes on one of the days each week, until that run is longer than 3 miles.  Then you can run a 5K pretty well, probably a little faster than you do in practice, due to the crowd around you and maybe a little bit of excitement.

Whatever works for you, stick with it.  You have taken on a healthy lifestyle that hopefully will last you a lifetime.  You may want to join a running club to meet others like yourself who choose to stay fit and healthy.   Go to a local race or fun run and meet runners, who are usually some of the nicest people you have ever known.

Happy Running!

Copyright 2009 by Florida East Coast Runners and Frank Norris.  Reproduction or reprinting without written permission is illegal.

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