Updated: Aug 4, 2022
By Lori Marmon, PT, MBA, COS-C, Class Instructor
There are times when people may think that starting a running program sounds like a
good idea. Maybe they want to participate in an upcoming race with family or
friends or they think that running offers a way to reach their health and fitness
For me, running has been a part of my life for so long that it is ingrained. I no longer
think about the planning or a “program” anymore. But for someone just looking to
enter the running world, there are some key factors to take into consideration.
First, proper shoes. Yes, it does matter. Being equipped with the right shoe for your foot and your intended activity allows you to participate with reduced risk of injury. If a running program is started and injury is your first “experience” with running, the likelihood of continuing is extremely low. Keep track of how many miles are on your shoes as well. The materials can begin to break down and no longer offer adequate or appropriate support after 300-500 miles.
Next, begin where you are. If you have an active lifestyle but have not done any running or walking for any distance on a regular basis, then the introduction of this activity needs to be very gradual. Before considering running, be sure that you are able to walk for at least 20 minutes at a more rigorous pace without pain or complication. A rigorous pace would mean thinking about a scale of 0-10. 0 would mean you are sleeping and 10 means you are running from a bear. Aim for about a 6-7 level of exertion, or how you feel for those 20 minutes. Starting here allows your body to adapt to the stresses of the repetitive forces of walking/running. We call this “time on your feet."
Once you can sustain those 20 minutes of regular rigorous walking without any complications, 2-3 x per week for at least 1-2 weeks (yes, consistency matters too) then we can look to introduce bouts of running. Start by using 5-minute intervals within the 20 minutes of rigorous walking that is already established. To start, walk 4 minutes and then run 1 minute and repeat this 4 times for your 20 minutes. As you are ready, move to walking 3 minutes/running 2 minutes, then walking 2 minutes/running 3 minutes. Lastly move into the final phase of walking 1 minute/running 4 minutes and then running all 20 minutes. Move thru these phases at a pace that is based on how you feel. It should be challenging but not painful. The keys to success lie in consistency and not trying to do too much too quickly.
This graduated method allows your body to adapt to the “stresses” of running
without injury and lays the foundation for a positive long-term relationship with running as a part of your fitness regimen!