Q: What’s the best way to ease into running?
Amy Marsh answers
A: Whether you’re starting to run for the first time, returning to the sport after a long break or coming off an injury, the best way to begin running is with a walk/run routine.
Before starting any exercise program, though, be sure to get checked out by your doctor to ensure you’re in good health (and fully healed). The next step would be to get comfortable shoes. Spending a little extra time and money on the best running shoes for your needs will help stave off injury in the long “run.”
Much like any fitness program, I recommend you start small and gradually increase your running time, distance and pace. If you start out doing too much, too soon, you’ll most likely get injured, burned out or frustrated within the first few weeks. Remember: the goal is to improve your health and fitness with consistent, quality workouts.
Here’s the plan:
Walk 30 minutes every other day. By not exercising on back-to-back days, you give your body adequate rest. Once your workouts become more intense, you’ll want to think about nutrition and how it can support – or even enhance – your goals. A recovery drink can help speed up the muscle-repair process. I like Muscle Milk Light Chocolate, because it comes in convenient, 100-calorie cartons.
Incorporate running intervals. A good starting point would be 5 minutes of walking followed by 30 seconds to 1 minute of running. Keep alternating between walking and running on this interval until you have reached your usual exercise time (approximately 30 minutes would equate to 5 intervals).
Each week, add 10-30 seconds of running to your intervals. This may mean increasing your total walk/run time. Just be sure not to jump from 30 minutes of exercise to 90 in one week. Slowly tack on the minutes; 10 extra minutes each week is safe and effective.
Week 11 and beyond
Decrease your walking time. At this stage in the program, you should be able to maintain 30 seconds of walking to 1 minute of running. The idea is to run more than you walk. Gradually decrease your walking by 10 seconds each week until you have eliminated walking altogether.
Find what works best for you by listening to your body. Most importantly, have fun on your runs. Because when you enjoy your workouts, you’re more likely to keep doing them!
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at email@example.com. ‘Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.