10 Steps to Start Running

If you've decided to take up running as a means to begin exercising or as an addition to your current exercise regimen, you've completed the first step to becoming a runner. Or maybe you signed up for a race or someone else decided that you will start running. Either way, running can improve your life both physically and mentally.

When you add running segments to a walk, you can experience a sense of joy not bestowed by other life activities. With proper pacing and the right run-walk-run ? ratio, you can build up your training—there is no need to experience pain or fatigue—and no need to puke!

I have helped over 700,000 people improve their lives through my books, beach retreats, running schools and individual consultations. Here are ten highlights from my book Getting Started.

1. First, gradually increase a gentle walk to 30 minutes. This can be done every day or every other day.

2. Then, insert segments of 5-10 seconds of running, every 1-2 minutes, every other day. If you want to exercise every day, walk only on the day between run-walks, otherwise, use it as a rest day. If all is well after three or four sessions, increase the running segments by five additional seconds each week. When you are able to comfortably run for 30 seconds and walk for 60 seconds, gradually decrease the walking amount by five seconds each week.

3. It is important to be regular with your run-walk—about every other day.

4. If you experience pain, inflammation or loss of function in the feet or legs, stop the run immediately. With the right (conservative) amount of walking, you can reduce injury risk down to zero.

5. To prepare for a 5K (3.1 miles), increase the distance of one of your run-walks each week by 5-10 minutes per week. Keep the ratio of running to walking (run 10 seconds/walk 50 seconds). When you have covered four miles on your long one, you are ready for a 5K.

6. To prepare for a 10K, increase the distance of the long run every other week by 10 minutes. On the shorter long run weekend, you can cover half of the distance of your current long run. When you have covered seven miles on the long run, you are ready for a 10K.

7. Don't drink or eat very much before a run. Eating 100-200 calories of simple carbohydrate after a strenuous run will speed up the reloading of muscle fuel for your next run.

8. Run and walk slowly enough that you can carry on a conversation—even at the end. If you're huffing and puffing, you went too fast.

9. Slow down and walk more when it's hot. If you have increased the short runs to 30 sec run/30 sec walk, on a hot day you should run 15 sec/walk 30 seconds. The best time to run/walk on hot days is before the sun gets above the horizon.

10. Find ways to enjoy every run. I hear from dozens of former couch potatoes each week who tell me that running has improved the way they feel and live for the better: body, mind and spirit.

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