Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to become a runner

Did you resolve to take up running this year? Maybe it’s not even the first time you’ve set such a goal. If you don’t know where to begin or have tried running before, but didn’t stick with it, we can help you become a runner for life. And who doesn’t want to reap running’s weight-maintaining and mind-clearing benefits for life?

Runner’s World has the perfect 10-week plan designed to get you to the point where you can run 30 minutes without stopping. The simple program designed by Budd Coates, Director of Employee Fitness and Health at Rodale, Inc. (parent company of Runner’s World), begins with more walking than running, and gradually evolves into more running than walking.

Before you start this schedule, see a doctor to get cleared for physical activity. Then get your legs ready with eight days of walking: walk for 20 minutes a day for the first four days, then increase to 30 minutes a day for four more days. Now you're ready to begin with week 1.

Each week of the program, do your 30-minute run/walk workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and take the other days off. Run at a slow, comfortable pace where you could talk to someone next to you. Really. If you try to set landspeed records, running won’t be enjoyable, and you won’t want to keep it up.

Walk 2 to 3 minutes for a warmup before you begin your workout, and walk another 2 to 3 minutes as a cooldown afterward. Save stretching for after your coolown.

Week 1: Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes. Complete five times.

Week 2: Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Complete five times.

Week 3: Run 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes. Complete four times.

Week 4: Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Complete three times.

Week 5: Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete three times.

Week 6: Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete twice, then run 8 minutes.

Week 7: Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. Complete three times.

Week 8: Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete twice.

Week 9: Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute. Complete twice.

Week 10: Run 30 minutes. Rejoice!

Q: What kind of shoes should I wear?

A: You should do fine with a pair of light, good-fitting sneakers or walking shoes from your closet. “You shouldn’t wear cheap, old sneakers that don’t fit,” says Budd Coates, who has been teaching beginning running classes at Rodale (publisher of Runner’s World) for 20 years. “But you don’t need to rush out and buy new running shoes, because you’re not going to be doing high mileage right away.”

Q: What’s the best way to hold my arms?

A: Hold your arms comfortably at your sides while running, aiming for maximum relaxation. Bend them 90 degrees at the elbows, and move them forward and back at your waist. Bend your fingers into a relaxed grasp, and don't let your hands sway back and forth across the middle of your torso.

Once you can comfortably (key word) run 30 minutes without stopping, then you can decide on your next goal. You might simply want to continue running 30 minutes at a time, three or four days per week. Research has shown that this is enough to help you lose or maintain weight, and improve many other important health markers, i.e., your cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin response. Or you might decide that you want to try a 5K, in which case you can create an individualized plan with SmartCoach tool. And, perhaps most gratifying, you can call yourself a runner.

Susan Rinkunas is an associate editor at Runner’s World, a magazine (and website) that informs, advises, and motivates runners of all ages and abilities—and we mean it. Her blog on Yahoo! Shine offers tips on running technique, nutrition and weight loss, shoes and apparel, and balancing fitness and life.


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