Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Get Started Running For Fitness

Running is a great way to exercise for cardiovascular fitness, overall health, and to lose or maintain your ideal body weight. Running is also enjoyed by many as a great stress reliever, especially when choosing to run outdoors. Getting fresh air after working indoors all day and enjoying the beautiful outdoor scenery is a nice perk of running.

If you want to experience all these benefits, or even just a few, there are some steps to take to get you started in the world of running. It takes time and dedication, but with patience, you will easily begin to accumulate miles on your running shoes.

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Trail_0962
(Photo credit: Grand Canyon NPS)
Set Your Goals

No matter if your goal is to increase your physical activity level or to lose weight, the first step to starting a running program is to set goals specific to you. When you set goals that are personal to you, and are achievable, you will be more likely to stick to obtaining your goal.

Obtain Medical Clearance

If you have never exercised, it is important that you make an appointment to see your medical doctor. Ask for a complete physical, and let your doctor know that you are considering starting a running program. He or she will be able to tell you if a running program is appropriate to your current health.

Plan Running Days

You should make a commitment to schedule time in your busy calendar for a running session. Anywhere from three to five times a week, beginning with a minimum of 10 minutes, is great to start a running program. You can slowly build up this time, but in the beginning, your focus in on making that commitment to running.

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...
ASICS stability running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Purchase the Right Running Shoes

With each sport, there is certain equipment that is needed to protect you from injury. Running is no different. When it comes to running shoes, ensure that you purchase shoes that are designed specifically for running – not walking or cross-training – just running.

Running shoes have more cushion and support that is needed for this kind of exercise. If you are unsure as to which running shoes are good for you, visit a sporting store that sells running shoes and speak to a professional sales person. He or she will be able to guide you in your particular needs. Also see our earlier post on how to choose the right running shoe.

Build Your Endurance

Now that you are prepared, it’s time to begin your running program. Don’t start off by thinking that you have to run fast and run many miles. In the beginning, focus just on time spent running. If you start off running too fast, too soon, you could be setting yourself up for injury, which will ruin your running goals.

To begin, start with a brisk walk for about two minutes and run slowly to moderately for one minute. Keep repeating this process until you have completed 10 minutes. You can slowly increase this time to 20 minutes as you feel stronger. Once you are at 20 minutes, try increasing your running time to your walking time. For example, run for four minutes and walk for one minute.

You can then slowly increase this time to 30 minutes. Once you are running more, you will notice that you are covering more distance. This is a great time to start re-analyzing your goals if you just want to keep running just for weight loss or weight maintenance at 30 minute sessions, or whether you want to get into long-distance running and races.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we share some tips for starting a regular running practice, and even working up to running some races if that's one of your goals!

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