Running is a great way to stay in shape and burn calories. It also can help you to feel great—provided you get off on the right foot.
Have you ever wondered why some people run in the rain or jog through the snow? The term “runner’s high” is not an exaggeration: Running can provide a feeling of well-being. It’s great for reducing stress and clearing your mind. And no, it’s not necessary to become a fanatic to enjoy the benefits.
Before you begin, consult with your healthcare practitioner, especially if you have any medical conditions that could pose a risk, such as heart, lung, or joint issues. However, most people who can walk easily for 30 minutes will find that they can run too.
Start by walking. Choose good footwear. Many injuries can result from footwear with poor support or broken-down cushioning. Choose a short course that you know—perhaps a half-mile or so, depending on your condition—and walk it briskly.
Try to exercise at the same time every day. Once you can walk the course easily, without pain or discomfort, try breaking intermittently into an easy jog—short steps, eyes forward—slowing down to a walk when you begin to grow winded. Then resume jogging. Remember that it’s best to build up to running gradually. Should you encounter persistent pain, lay off for a few days or consult your doctor.
After a short time, you will find you are doing less walking and more jogging. And before long, depending on your age and condition, you will be able to jog the entire length of the course as easily as you once walked it. Then it’s time to extend your jog or quicken your pace. You are on your way to becoming a dedicated runner!
Find a nonintimidating race, like a local 5K (a 3.1-mile race), and sign up for it. Having this kind of goal—and paying the entrance fee—will keep you focused and motivated to stay on schedule with your training. A simple training formula is to train three days a week. Two days a week, you can run or run/walk 20 to 30 minutes. Take a longer run or run/walk on the weekend. Shoot for 40 minutes to an hour.
By Martin Hanft