In the first part of this article on how to start running we looked at the most important tool beside your legs and feet that you need for running, your shoes. Now we get practical and get you from “I can’t make it to the corner, at least not alive” to “heah, wow, I never knew I could move this long!”
Let’s Get Practical
Ok, you either settled for an old pair, because you just want to give running a try, or bought shiny new shoes, now what?
Logic dictates that you simply do your best to emulate the long distance runners you see at the Olympics, but your body will most likely disagree. Those people have years of practice and didn’t start out with the form that they now apparently without any effort can put out. You have to pick things up where you are, not where they are.
Before you do anything else, you will warm up and that means the first 2 or 3 minutes of your session you will swiftly walk. This will increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for the task ahead. And no, you won’t stretch before your run, because stretching a cold muscle in most cases does more damage than good.
Run At The Right Speed
After this warm-up phase is over, you start the actual run, which is nothing but moving at a rate faster than swiftly walking, having both of your feet without contact to the ground for a split second. This is crucial, as it is the point where most beginners make the biggest mistake: they take “now you run” as “run as fast as you can” and will feel like dying after about two minutes.
A good and simple rule of thumb for a comfortable speed is: Run at a rate where you can still hold a conversation.
If you want to be exact about it, you can measure your pulse by taking a watch with you and count how many times your pulse beats within 15 seconds. Take this times four and compare it to your maximum heart rate, which is calculated with the formula 220 minus your age. The number of beats you get should be around 50 – 75 percent of that number.
If, for example, you are 40 years old, then your maximum is 180 and your running pulse should be 90 – 135 bpm.
Run, Walk, Repeat
Chances are that when you newly start out, you won’t be able to hold even these moderate speeds for very long. And that’s ok. You are getting accustomed to it and already have accomplished way more than the people who never even start.
When you find you can’t go on jogging for any longer, start swiftly walking and let your breath come back. You will notice when your breathing and pulse go down again. Once you are out of the yellow alert zone, run again.
At the beginning you, like me, will most likely find that your running stretches will be short and your breaks considerably longer, but it won’t take long until you’ll notice this ratio reversing, until finally you can run continuously for half an hour.
At the end of your session, don’t simply stop, but do what you also did at the beginning: 2 to 3 minutes of swift walking. This ensures that your blood pressure doesn’t go down into the basement, which can make you faint or even cause cardiac arrest. Running and then stopping without any forewarning is to your body a bit like what your car experiences when you drive it with 100 mph and then put in the reverse gear.
How often should you do this training? When I started, I found three times per week for half an hour the most beneficial. This seemed to be the right amount for my body to get accustomed to it, but not so much to burn myself out. Find an amount that works for you. If you do it too seldom, no conditioning will set in. If you do it too often, you will start dreading the thought of putting on those shoes and doing “it”.
If You Are Very Overweight
A word of warning to those that carry a lot of extra pounds: Your feet, legs and knees already have to put up with a lot of stress and you shouldn’t start running until your weight is out of the extreme danger zone. As said above, running means your feet leave the ground for a split second and even when wearing the best shoes available, this causes a shock running up your entire leg. If you are in that position, you may want to replace the running portions of this plan with swift walking and walking at a normal pace during the breaks.
You Will Dread This
Now that you hopefully have a good idea how to go about this endeavor, one important word of warning: Before you try out running, check your health status with your doctor and get his ok. That not only goes to people who are overweight, but actually to everyone – you may have a health condition you aren’t even aware of and the last thing you want is to threaten your health with something supposed to make it better.
The below video is a summary of the above practical tips, for those that prefer listening to them (I sometimes think people rather hear me giving advice instead of reading it, because they think the accent is so, ahem, “cute”):
On Your Mark, Get Set
With all that being accounted for, go and try it. Maybe like me you will find how enjoyable it can be to do something as simple as running. I was one of the worst couch potatoes possible and my overweight me five years ago would have thought it insane to seriously contemplate doing this.
Picture courtesy of “lululemon“.