Monday, April 25, 2011

Get Started Running

Lots of people have asked me how they can get started running and what to do about breathing. I am not an expert and I haven't studied running, but I do run a lot and I know what works for me.

How to get started? Start with walking. Make sure to walk at a pace faster than you would walk regularly. This means that you have to think about what you're doing and make a conscious effort to walk fast. After you have a few sessions, say a week or a month of walking, you will want to pick up the pace. If you are outside pick two landmarks and try to power walk from one to the other. If you are on a treadmill pick a time span, say 20 seconds for power walking. Return to your first pace and repeat. In a few weeks you will have this down and it'll be time to pick up the pace. Try this exercise:

  1. Walk at a faster pace than normal for 1 minute
  2. Power walk for 20 seconds
  3. Push your power walk to where it is so fast that it is awkward to walk and take it to a jog.
  4. Go back to step 1 and repeat

Don't get discouraged if you can't maintain step 3 for a long time. I am not saying this to make anyone feel better, but I literally could not do step 3 for more than about 10-20 seconds when I started. Move to the next phase when you are comfortable. For some it will be one week, and for others a month or longer.

Once you get the above pattern down what you will want to do is eliminate step 1 or 2 so that you are now going between walking fast and running. Next, what you will want to do is shorten the walking periods and lengthen the running until eventually you find that you no longer need to walk.

How far you decide to take it is up to you. The same principles work for building your mileage as they do for getting started. Build a little each time. Don't try to go from 1 mile to 5k. Go to 1 ¼ then 1 ½ and so on. We use a term at work, "go slow for speed". It works here too. Build slowly and you will get to the distance you want to be at faster and injury free.

What about the breathing? Try to keep it as natural as possible. If you are struggling try to count how many steps you take as you inhale and how many you take as you exhale and try to even them out. I counted during yesterday's run and I was about 2 ½ paces for each. After I got warmed up I was at 2 paces for each inhale and 2 paces for each exhale. Try to relax. Your body knows what to do you just have to let it.

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