When and How to Start a Running Program
Whatever your running goal is, here are tips on how to get started and what you should know.
You’ve finally committed to running a 10K this year. Or maybe you’re just aiming to run twice a week for now.
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Whatever your running goal is, it’s best to speak with your doctor first, according to Monica Betchker, PT, DPT, AT. He or she can make sure you’re physically capable of beginning a running program and can help identify potential road blocks.
Here’s how to get started and what you need to know when it comes to running.
Most people do well with a run-walk program. Start with one minute of running alternating with two minutes of walking for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.Then increase running by 30 seconds each week until you reach 10 minutes of running.
This concept can be adjusted, depending on one’s overall health and fitness level. Even someone who is aerobically fit should start gradually, so your body can adjust to the impact of running.
Plan on working out three to four days per week, but not consecutively. When 10 minutes of running has been achieved and your walking stages are no longer needed, increase the running distance by several minutes each week. Do this until you reach your desired goal or distance.
You should take time off from running each week. This will help you avoid injuries and fatigue that can occur with the increasing mileage. You should also take an extra day off if you’re sick, have muscle soreness or are overly tired. And don’t run an extra day because of an unscheduled day off!
Plan on a very easy day or a day off following workouts of greater intensity (like a longer run). If you’re training for a marathon or longer race, your last long run should be about three weeks before the race. Some studies have shown muscle damage following a long run that can last almost three weeks.
Running can be a fun and satisfying way to stay active. If you’re new to it, take it slow, be consistent and don’t worry about what others think.
For experienced runners and those training for longer races, the goal is to peak at certain times of the year (depending upon your race schedule). In order to peak, you need to plan for recovery.
Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, keep these running principles in mind:
Before training for a marathon you should be running for about one year. Most programs build from a base of 20 to 25 miles per week. This type of foundation lowers your risk of injury.
If you have a good running base, plan on an 18-week training program. Your longest run leading into this schedule should be at least five miles.
The most important aspect of training is the long run. This will train your muscles, heart and lungs to work for progressively longer periods of time.
Gradually increase your long runs with intermittent shorter runs. Pick a day for your long run. You may fill in the mileage for the remainder of each week dependent upon your usual weekly mileage, history of injuries and running experience.
A beginning marathoner should plan to run a total of about 20 to 25 miles during the early weeks of the program and up to 40 miles when the long runs are the greatest distance.