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 injuries).

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 metabolism!

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.

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