Running is too hard!
I’ve heard so many people say that. But still, they want to try to do it as a form of exercise, and so they ask me how on earth can they make it easier. Where do they start?
You should ease into your running program gradually. The idea is to transform you from couch potato into a regular runner, doing and easy 5KM each run. If you stick to these rules, you should be running in no time, no sweat!
Warm up first
It’s important to warm up your body before running. Otherwise running will feel very hard and your body might suffer stitches. Walking is a great way to warm up the body. Stride out and pump your arms. Start with a medium paced walk and then speed up until you start to sweat. Once your body is warm, you are ready to run.
A few minutes each week
Each session should take about 20 or 30 minutes, three times a week. That just happens to be the same amount of moderate exercise recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness. This program will get you fit, even if you are not running long distance yet. Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don’t worry about speed – that will come later, once you’re fitter.
Run for time, or run for distance
You can either measure your run by time or by distance. Either one works just as well, choose the option that seems easiest for you to keep track of. If you go with the distance option, and you are not using a track to measure the distances, just estimate.
Buy good shoes
See my past post, on how to buy good running shoes. It’s worth going to a specialty shop to buy a pair of running shoes. Make sure that the salesperson looks at the shape and arch of your foot to figure out the best shoes for you. The reason good shoes are important is because it will soften the impact and protect your joints.
Alternate with interval training
The best way to get fit fast is through interval training. This means short burst of high intensity exercise alternating with recovery periods. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise. Try alternating 5 minutes of walking and one minute of running for twenty minutes. As you get fitter, you can lengthen the periods of running. This will help you to build up speed in your running.
Use correct running technique
Beginners find it difficult to relax while running. Keep your head up and your lower arms in hip height, and run without bouncing. It all helps to work your body more efficiently.
Run with others
A great way to keep up your motivation is to run with others. See if a colleague or a friend is willing to come running with you. Set an interval schedule for your run and stick to it.
Keep an exercise diary
Keep a record of your new exercise routine. Write down each day what kind of exercise you have done. A great way to track your growing fitness is by measuring your resting pulse before you get up in the morning. As you get fitter, your resting pulse will get lower.
Add strength exercises to the mix
Building strength in your legs will help you to run. A simple way to build your leg muscles is by doing squats. Stand with feet a little more than shoulder width apart. As you squat, keep your feet on the ground and swing your arms to the front in order to keep your balance. Read my past post on how to do squats here.
Add a cool-down period after exercise
It’s important for the body to cool down after running. The best way is to walk at a medium pace until your heart-rate returns to normal.
Stretch after running
It’s good practice to stretch after running because it keeps your body flexible.