The Church of Run: Converts Wanted
Do you want to start running but just haven’t found the right time? Want to lose a few pounds, but running sounds too difficult? Not enough energy? Daily grind getting in the way? Just plain overwhelmed? Don’t fret. Think of all those friends of yours that lost weight when they started to work out. Starting a running workout routine could be more accessible than you think.
Don't let the idea scare you
First, hear me out. For someone new to running, the goal should be to run for 30 minutes (covering about 2 miles) nonstop, 3 or 4 days a week. But if that sounds impossible, don’t worry; it ought to, and you won’t be doing that right away! If you could run a 30 min. on a regular basis right away, it wouldn’t be a goal but a self-esteem boost. Let’s be honest, your body has an aversion to because it probably can’t handle it yet. This kind of distaste for activity is protecting you from injury. You know, the idea of the Marathon comes from the legend of a Greek man named Pheidippides who ran that famous distance from the battle of Marathon to Athens to report they had won…and then he died… Moral of the story: running is great, but don’t kill yourself doing it.
You may ask about a specific distance to cover, but that’s not as important as the time that your muscles are engaged. The benefits of that regular 30 minute workout should at least maintain your weight and improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, and ability to regulate blood sugar. However, you may even need to build up to 30 minutes. Don’t worry, it’s not a race. These first two miles could very well be the hardest two miles of your running career, and once you’ve overcome them, adding mileage or more workout days won’t be nearly as scary. In fact, it won’t be scary at all.
This brings us to another moral: consult your doctor. If you’re a young whippersnapper that’s in shape already, you may opt out of this at your discretion. However, as Amby Burfoot from Runner’s World says, “If you are over 40, not accustomed to any exercise, or more than 20 pounds overweight, consult with your physician.” If this is the case, you may consider wearing a heart monitor.
Find a workout routine
As you may know, the hardest part of doing something new on a regular basis is keeping it up. Hey, I’m sure you’ve got a test run in you, but will you put off the next run until you’re back where you started? That’s what happened the last time I tried to start flossing. Schedule the time! Put time aside, and put that schedule in a place you’ll see it.
You’ll want to plan your workouts in advance, and some expertise should be applied at a level beyond your own. Don’t have a personal trainer? There are websites that will detail an 8 or 10 week program to get you started, like this one at Runner’s World. It’s always a good time to have a runner you know personally to ask questions, or just to run with in the first place.
Getting ready for the run
There’s nothing more annoying than being uncomfortable during a run. Don’t be unprepared and give yourself an excuse to. Food isn’t great right before a workout, especially dairy. Dairy isn’t friendly to a runner’s stomach within 1 ½ -2 hours of eating it, and, if you test it, you’ll be running home faster than you’d like.
Your choice of footwear is important, especially when you’re running more than you have before, shin splints or sore knees can result. If your shins or knees hurt after a run, ice them immediately after the workout for 15 minutes. If the pain doesn’t go away, take a few days off to recover – you don’t want to start a running program with a recurring problem.
As far as other clothing is concerned, just pick things you’ll be comfortable in and won’t be embarrassed in when the neighborhood sees it. Just keep in mind that after warming up you’ll feel 15°-20° warmer than the air outside.
Look like a runner
A few words on form before you let loose out there. Breathe in through your mouth and deep to your belly. Your body should feel natural and relaxed. Your torso should be upright, maybe slightly leaning forward. Shoulders should rest square, and your arms should swing forward and back, not across the front of your body, with hands relaxed. The hands might be hard to keep loose, but I was instructed this way: “Pretend you’re holding a magic potato chip between your thumb and first two fingers. Hold the chip lightly so that you don’t crush it. Why? Because it’s magic.” Hope that helps.
Good luck, and keep your spirits high, you’ll get there with some patience.