Even the thought of running can be intimidating, says run coach and REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ creator Jason Karp, PhD, author of “Run Your Fat Off.” “The truth is running may be the easiest physical activity to do,” he says. Karp has a point: All you need to do is lace up your sneakers and go. It’s as simple as that. “If you can only run for 30 seconds, don’t sweat it,” Karp adds. “Simply run for 30 seconds. Over time, the body adapts and your fitness can improve.”
If you’re ready to take your walks to a run — and even build up to a 5K, one of the most accessible racing distances — Karp offers five steps to get you off your couch and, well, running.
1. PUMP UP YOUR DAILY WALKS
First, aim to walk for at least 30 minutes at a time. If you’re not yet there, add a few minutes to each daily walk. Then, pick up your pace so that you’re breathing harder. “Walk with intention, like you’re late to catch a flight,” Karp says. “You’ll burn fat and become fitter.”
2. SPRINKLE IN 30-SECOND RUNS
Add short bursts of jogging to your walks. Your running segments don’t have to be full-out sprints — but you’ll want to start pushing yourself … gently. Walk for 5 minutes at a brisk pace and run for 30 seconds. Continue alternating walking with running until 30 minutes have passed.
READ MORE > HOW A RUN/WALK PROGRAM CAN MAKE YOU FASTER
3. RUN FOR 1-MINUTE SESSIONS
When 30 seconds of running feels easy, extend your jogging segments to 1 minute. Continue walking for 4–5 minutes between runs — and think about your level of exertion and how it feels. “Progress slowly and give your body a chance to adapt,” Karp says. “You don’t have to rush through at someone else’s pace; you have only to go for the pace that is right for you.”
What is your ‘right’ pace? You’ll want to feel like you can’t necessarily hold a conversation, but you can say a complete sentence. Now you’re running to catch that imaginary flight.
4. TIP THE BALANCE
Continue lengthening your runs as soon as what you’re doing feels easy. For example, if you’ve been incorporating 1-minute runs into your walks for a week, take your runs to 2 minutes the following week, 3 minutes the next and so on, until you’re running the complete 30 minutes — which is the average time it takes to complete a 5K race. “Over time you’ll find you can run steadily for longer and longer,” Karp says.
5. KEEP CONSISTENT … AND KEEP RUNNING
“Work diligently daily [save for rest days every 3–5 days] to see results,” Karp says. “The more you run, the more adaptations you’ll make. When you increase your volume systematically and carefully, you’ll also avoid injuries while you improve your performance.”
Photo Credit: @RunTotheFinish