1. Ease into a Running Program
You’re ready to burn significant calories. You’ve been walking for weeks and you think you’re ready to start running. Great!
We commend your efforts to
boost your metabolism. But don’t open the door and take a 5-mile jog or
run around your neighborhood. Trust us, you’ll be sore for days and you
may even injure yourself. Running, unlike walking or some other aerobic
activities, is a high-impact sport. It forces you to work harder than
you’re used to, which boosts your metabolism. If you haven’t been active
in some time, you may want to consider getting your doctor’s approval
before beginning. If that isn’t a concern, we still recommend you start
slowly, by integrating runs into your walks or by running very short
distances—like a quarter or half mile—at a time. Eventually, as you
start to get stronger and gain endurance, you’ll naturally start running
longer distances at a pace suitable for your body.
2. Build Up a Mileage Base
Without question, safely
building a mileage base, or the distance you run per week, is the most
important area to focus on when beginning a running program. It’s
essential to begin running in small increments and build on these, no
matter how silly or short your distance seems. Trying to take on too
much too soon can greatly increase your chances of incurring an overuse
injury and may ruin your appetite for running.
3. Follow the 10 Percent Rule
When you’re ready to run for
longer distances, increase your weekly mileage by 10 percent at a time.
While it will take more time for you to reach your distance goal, you’ll
prevent an injury that could derail your progress.
4. Adhere to Running Principles
Don’t push yourself to
run fast right away. That is how many beginners burn out. Instead,
concentrate on comfort and form. The way to approach running as a new
way of life is to learn the right habits and then perfect them. After
you’ve been running for a few months, it’s a good idea to ask an
experienced runner or (preferably) a coach to point out and correct your
form flaws or deficiencies. This advice will improve your overall
mechanics and running efficiency.
5. Stretch Your Muscles after You Run
A major misconception
about running is that you must stretch beforehand. In fact, the opposite
is the case: You should stretch after a workout. If you really feel you
should stretch because you want to loosen up or warm up your muscles
before the serious work, jog or walk for 5 to 10 minutes and then
stretch. Start your run very slowly, and then ease into a training pace 5
to 10 minutes later. The idea is not to stretch a cold muscle. If
you’re planning a speed workout or race, jog for about a mile, stretch,
and then do the speed workout or race. Don’t stretch past the point of
slight discomfort. If your muscles are still cold, don’t try to stretch
them like a rubber band, especially if you haven’t run in a while. And
don’t bounce! Doing so can cause injuries.
6. Sign Up for a Race
If you’re having trouble
exercising as frequently as you should even after you’ve built up a
substantial mileage base and are used to running regularly, sign up for a
race! Choose a race that you’re not presently prepared to participate
in, but one that won’t push you too far too fast, and then officially
sign up. Once you’ve paid the fee, you’ll be more likely to force
yourself into training for it and reaching that finish line!
7. Don’t Do the Marathons until You’re Primed
You shouldn’t even think
of training for a marathon (26.2 miles) until you meet certain criteria.
Specifically, you should have been running consistently four to five
days per week, 25 miles per week, for at least a year (without any major
8. Run to Increase Endorphins
A well-known training
effect is the production of endorphins. Endorphins are natural
morphine-like hormones that produce a sense of well-being and reduce
stress levels. They make you feel good and improve your mood. You may
have heard of the “runner’s high” associated with long-distance runners,
but this group doesn’t have exclusive rights to endorphin production.
You, too, can produce your own endorphins through regular running
exercise. The higher your level of endorphins, the less likely you are
to use food for comfort. Also, the more endorphins you have in your
system, the less stressed out you’re likely to be, leading to a higher
9. Alternate Running with Other Activities
Although running is
excellent for building endurance, burning calories, and building strong
bones and muscles, it is also hard on the joints. That’s why it’s
important to alternate running with other aerobic activities so that you
don’t cause a musculoskeletal injury from overuse. Listen to your own
body and its needs, but we recommend taking a few rest days to let
yourself recover, especially if you’re starting to run longer distances
or if you’re new to it altogether.
10. Try Jogging
Running is the act of
moving quickly as you alternate feet. While it provides a great aerobic
workout, it requires a lot of endurance. If you’re not quite ready for
that level of intensity, jogging is a slower version that provides the
same benefits. If you can add five to six 30-second jogs to your walking
routine, you’ll find that you’ll start to increase your overall
endurance and burn more calories.