No matter the reason you’ve decided to pick up running, you’ll need to be realistic to be successful.
To help you start off on the right foot, here are three easy tips to get you started running and help you create a goal for the new year that you will actually want to complete.
TRY A RUN/WALK PROGRAM
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: It’s OK to walk during a run (and even during a race). While running for a certain amount of time or distance is certainly an accomplishment, it’s acceptable to start with an interval program, alternating running and walking. This method will allow you to go further sooner and will give your running muscles (not to mention your cardiovascular system) a break throughout the run.
Running and walking is also perfect for people who think running is boring. Keeping an eye on intervals and changing up the pace during your run will make the time fly by.
Whether you decide to run/walk or just run, you should start slowly — low in pace and slow in ramping up distance. Even if running a mile or two feels better than you ever imagined, follow the 10-Percent Rule no matter what. That is, don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% of what you did last week. 10-Percent Rule. Disobeying this rule is one of the worst habits a runner can pick up.
Physical therapist Heather North of Red Hammer Rehab and Revolution Running club in Louisville, Colorado, says, “don’t bite off more than you can chew. Realize that so much has to change in order for your body to acclimatize to this very specific pounding and weight bearing exercise. Muscles must grow, connective tissue must become tougher and more resilient, and bones must become more dense. Advice is 10–15% increases in total running time per week.”
Consistency is arguably the most important part of sticking to anything new — whether it’s writing in a daily journal or starting a new exercise plan.
North’s best advice for the runners she coaches? Stay consistent, she says. She suggests that 80% of your runs be easy enough to hold a conversation while you are doing it. “This also means running 5–6 days a week each and every week,” she continues. “Consistent and repeated loading of the body tempers it and makes a runner quite durable.”
TAKE THE NEXT STEP AND FIND A TRAINING PLAN
Once you have mastered these initial suggestions, bump it up a notch and sign up for a race. A 5K (3.1 miles) is always a good place to start. And you can get a range of training plans, from 5K to full marathon, from MapMyFitness.
Workout logging lets you track progress over time so you’re motivate to keep going. Tap “Log a Workout” in the MapMyRun app to see how all your activity — runs, rides, you name it — moves you closer to your goals.