Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to take up running. Maybe you’d like to lose weight, or you’re working on strengthening your body to help with rehabilitation after an injury or a surgery. Running is one of the most complete exercise options available, and one of the simplest. But, a lot of new runners are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there. 5k training plans all the way to 100 mile training plans. Intervals, tempo runs, long runsas a sport we runners have our fair share of jargon and terminology. At the same time, getting going with a running plan is best done in a simple and straightforward way. Here is how to get started.
Starting with a run-walk approach is OK, and beneficial
If you’re new to running, the biggest hurdle to overcome when you get started is the conception that all running must be (capital R) Running. A lot of people go out and try to run hard for as long as they can, and then get frustrated when that is only a few minutes before they feel totally winded. In terms of getting better at running for longer, you can train your aerobic system a lot better with a run-walk approach.
Begin with 1 minute running and 4 minutes walking, completed 6 times for a total of 30 minutes. Keep up with this until the running segments feel very easy for the entire session, and then switch to 3 walk and 2 run, and so on. Usually, after a couple of weeks, people are running for 4 minutes with short walk breaks, or have transitioned entirely to continuous running. This approach ensures that your heart rate, which is very important for running not feeling too difficult, stays solidly in an easy/aerobic range.
Begin with a focus on easy running and aerobic endurance
There is a good reason behind the fact that experienced runners spend most of their time logging easy mileage. In support of all running goals, building a solid aerobic base with a lot of easy running is the most productive approach. This applies to new runners as well. The initial focus of a running program should be to run more. And, the best way to keep your body fresh to add additional time on your feet is to keep the running very easy.
As a coach, I see a lot of new runners adopt a mindset that every run should be faster than the last one, and then find themselves discouraged when this isn’t possible. Rather than pushing for faster runs every time, a better mindset is to work toward more running every week. Speed goals are much better suited for the long-term, and luckily the opportunity to run faster isn’t going to go away.
After building a consistent routine, decide if you want to try a race
A lot of runners like to race as a way to stay motivated, and to set and achieve goals. Some people prefer to keep their running as a training tool only and refrain from racing. Both approaches are equally good, and what you decide to do just depends on what you want to get out of running. If you decide to try a race, start small with a 5k (3.1 miles), 8k (just under 5 miles) or 10k (6.2 miles). Once you’ve decided to train for a specific race (and registered for one!), you can search out a training plan that is tailored to your specific race distance. Above all, keep in mind that running is a sport in which you can compete for your whole life, so keeping a long-term mindset will help you get the most enjoyment (and ultimately the biggest fitness benefit) from your new hobby.