Have you ever watched kids run while they play? They run, then they stop. They start running again, then they stop again. All the while, they are enjoying the motion of their bodies, making their running look almost effortless. This is the same kind of approach you want to take when you first start a running program.
By using the run/walk method -- a running program that combines both walking and running -- you will find yourself running sooner than you expected and having more fun at it than you anticipated.
How to Get Started
Before beginning any exercise program, make sure you get the okay from your doctor - especially if you are a former smoker, are overweight, or have a family history of heart disease. While it may seem inconvenient to check with a physician regarding a running program, he or she may ask you to either alter the way you exercise or want to monitor you more closely as you exercise.
You will also need to get a good pair of running shoes - ones that are fitted just for your body weight, your stride and how your feet strike the ground. Your local running store or sporting goods store will be able to help you with the decision process. You will want to make sure you walk/run on the treadmill with the shoes on before purchasing them. You will spend somewhere in the $80 - $90 range but it will be worth it. The right shoes can save you from injuries like shin splints, rolled ankles, and runner's knee and also increase your energy during your run/walk due to proper body mechanics.
Making A Plan That Works for You
Generally, your run/walk program lasts for 10 weeks. For your first week, you will begin your workout session with a 5 minute walk to warm up and then run slowly for 1 minute followed by 2 minutes of walking. Repeat 7 times for a total of of 21 minutes and then complete your workout with another 5 minute walk for a cool down. Repeat this 3-4 times your first week.
Your second week you'll warm up the same and cool down the same but now the ratio of running to walking is one minute each for a total of 20 minutes. The third week begins the slow increase in running time: run slowly for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute alternating 7 times. Increase your running time by one minute your fourth and fifth week while keeping your walking time to 1 minute. Keep in mind your total time walking/running should be no more than 21 minutes.
Week 6 through 9 you will increase your running time by 3 minutes each week with your walking time remaining the same. Week 10 is your official graduation to running 20 minutes at a steady slow pace after your 5 minute warm up. Congratulations! You are now a runner!