Beginning runners: It's check in time. How are you doing with your program? Hopefully you've been getting out there and making some progress. Before we go any further, let's celebrate your accomplishments; it's not always easy to stick to your goals.
Now that you've been running for a few weeks, you may have some questions about how to progress and improve. Many beginners wonder: How often should I run? What's the ideal pace for my workouts? How far should I run, and how do I increase my mileage safely? Rest assured, we're here to help. Here's what you need to know about pace, distance and frequency.
What if I Can't Run for Very Long?
Many new runners make the mistake of setting impractical expectations. While goal setting is encouraged, it's important to be realistic. You shouldn't expect to run a long distance without stopping right out of the gate. Building your fitness is a gradual process, and you'll get there with time and patience.
When you're first starting out, don't feel discouraged if you have to take frequent breaks to walk, drink water or catch your breath. This is all a part of building up your fitness, and if you stick with it you'll improve.
Instead of worrying about running "X" amount of miles, try running by time rather than distance.
"Pay a lot of attention to how you feel while you're out there," Road Runners Club of America-certified coach Ron Bowman says. "Adjust the time depending on your fitness level. Start with a run/walk routine, and gradually add time as you build your fitness."
Bowman suggests alternating five minutes of running with two minutes of walking. Repeat this for 30 minutes. If you can't keep this up for 30 minutes initially, don't worry. Just do as much as you can.
When you're ready to increase the length of your workouts, take a sensible approach and don't push yourself too hard.
"Don't increase your total run time by more than 10 percent each week," says RRCA-certified coach Kim Lovejoy. "By increasing time at minimal increments, you reduce your chance of injury."