Remember running when you were a kid? It felt effortless, free and fun to fly down a hill as fast as you could. You ran everywhere, even when you weren't supposed to—at school, the grocery store, the public pool. Running just felt so good.
Since then, running may have lost its joy. Maybe you tried to start running but got sidelined with an injury. Maybe you've always wanted to join your local running group but fear you'd be last in the pack. Maybe waking up at 5 a.m. to trudge a few miles around the neighborhood just doesn't sound fun.
Don't let fear of injury, intimidation, or lack of motivation prevent you from experiencing the countless benefits running offers. No matter your age or fitness level, Chi Running makes running pain-free, easier, and as enjoyable as it was when we were kids.
2013 is the year you can become a runner.
More: Chi Running for Beginners
Follow these five tips to start a Chi Running program (and stick with it!):
1. Prepare mentally. First and foremost, be kind to yourself. Take an honest assessment of your current fitness level and make realistic goals. Think about why you truly want to start a running program, and return to those reasons when you need motivation. Learning Chi Running and improving aerobic conditioning both take time, so be patient. Don't compare yourself to others—every runner is at a different place in his or her running life.
More: 4 Ways to Conquer Your Running Fears
2. Take walk breaks to build aerobic and cardio capacity. You wouldn't expect to cook a gourmet meal without knowing how to boil water. As you build on the basics of cooking to become a chef, you have to build up physically to distance running. Taking short walk breaks during your runs allows you to improve your cardio-aerobic conditioning gradually. To get the most out of a walk-run program:
- Check your posture. Before taking a step, make sure your shoulders are over your hips and that your feet are pointing forward (not splayed out). Keep your shoulders low and relaxed.
- Engage your core by leveling your pelvis with your lower abdominal muscles.
- Begin with a warm-up walk. Walk at a relaxed pace to warm up your legs. Shift into a brisk walking pace to increase your breath rate. Keep your stride short as you increase your walking speed. Walk at this pace for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Break into a slow jog. Continue to keep your stride short and your body as relaxed as possible.
- Strive to make it easy. Run until your breath feels labored, then drop back into a brisk walking pace until your breath rate recovers.
- Maintain your technique as you transition between running and walking to reduce impact.
- Only take walk breaks when needed.