You guys are awesome! I have gotten so many questions, I am not even sure where to begin… I’m thinking the obvious place to start would be the beginning… So here is a question from a reader on how to begin running.
Q: Do you have any information/good plans on starting to run [after a long hiatus].
A: First of all, it depends on what your fitness level was prior to the hiatus and just how long of a break you took.
Let’s assume you haven’t run in over a year, and that when you were running, you were doing three miles, three to four times a week, and that you had been doing this routine on and off for two years. My advice in this situation would be the same as it would be for the person beginning to run for the very first time.
#1) Carve out time for at least three to four 20-30 minute runs per week. Put it on your calendar and treat it like you would any other appointment. Do not wait until you have found a cute running outfit. Do not wait until you have lost weight. Do not wait until it’s a little colder/warmer/less humid/cloudy with a chance of meatballs.
As Dan is fond of reminding me, perfect is the enemy of good. Even if you only have 15 minutes to step out during your lunch break, even if you only have time for a bird bath instead of a shower, and even if you ate an extra piece of cake at that work birthday party and you think you’re too bloated to exercise… GET OUT THERE (or in there if you’re on a treadmill).
#2) Get comfortable walking for 20-30 minutes at a brisk pace at least three to four times a week. If you’re already there, skip to step #3.
#3) Begin the Run/Walk progression as below. Each Run/Walk is 20-30 minutes. Don’t worry about distance. All you need is a digital watch and a pair of sneakers.
Repeat each workout below as many times as it takes to feel comfortable before moving to the next workout. What do I mean by “comfortable”? I mean you could complete the workout while having a conversation, you could do the workout while breathing with your mouth closed most of the time, or you could easily keep running when the run interval ends.
Run 1 minute Walk 2 minutes
Run 1 minute Walk 1 minute
Run 2 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 3 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 4 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 5 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 3 minutes Walk 30 seconds
Run 4 minutes Walk 30 seconds
Run 5 minutes Walk 30 seconds
Run 6 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 8 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 10 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 6 minutes Walk 30 seconds
Run 8 minutes Walk 30 seconds
Run 10 minutes Walk 30 seconds
Run 12 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 15 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 18 minutes Walk 1 minute
Run 20 minutes, Walk to cool down
Run 25 minutes, Walk to cool down
Run 30 minutes
#4) Celebrate!! You can now run for 30 minutes straight!
Bonus Inspirational Story: I struggled to complete the mile run required for the state fitness test in middle school gym class. The only person I beat was the fat kid in my class. It took me an agonizing 10 minutes. Nearly 20 years later, I registered for a one mile race for fun. I finished second woman in my age group. It took me six minutes and 41 agonizing seconds.
Don’t give up!