Running makes me feel like an athlete. It makes me appreciate different aspects of different seasons and the beauty of the world we live in. It makes me aware of things I never was aware of before. It has taught me more about myself then I ever thought “exercise” would. I have pushed my limits. I have found some limits. I have learned I am not a quitter and that I can do anything I put my mind to. It gives me structure and helps relieve stress, but mostly it just makes me happy.
Fearless Fitness Tip Of the Week: Beginning to RUN program.
In the spirit of running and this weekends’ San Francisco marathon, I thought it would be fun to do a BEGINNING TO RUN post. So even if you’re NOT running in a marathon (or ever plan to!), I want to CHALLENGE YOU to give walking/running another chance as part of your fitness regimen.
Here are some answers to the most common running questions and my “beginning to run program” that will help get you started strong.
RUNNING Q & A:
- How do I get started? Start walking for a length of time that feels comfortable–anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Once you can walk for 30 minutes easily, sprinkle 1- to 2-minute running sessions into your walking. As time goes on, make the running sessions longer, until you’re running for 30 minutes straight.
- Is it normal if running hurts? Some discomfort is normal as you add distance and intensity to your training. But real pain isn’t normal. If some part of your body feels so bad that you have to run with a limp or otherwise alter your stride, you have a problem. Stop running immediately, and take a few days off. If you’re not sure about the pain, try walking for a minute or two to see if the discomfort disappears. To avoid pain, be sure to run in shoes that are properly fit to match YOUR body’s mechanics and needs. Also use THESE tips from the PROS on proper running form and how-to’s. Check with your physical therapist or doctor if you continue to get pain from running.
- Can I run in sneakers? Running doesn’t require much investment in gear and accessories, but you have to have a good pair of running shoes. Unlike sneakers, running shoes are designed to help your foot strike the ground properly, reducing the amount of shock that travels up your leg. They’re also made to fit your foot snugly, which reduces the slipping and sliding that can lead to blisters. Visit a specialty running store to find the right shoe for you. Read my take on the right shoe for YOUR feet here and an important post on keeping your FEET FIT!
- How is running on a treadmill different from outdoor runs? A treadmill “pulls” the ground underneath your feet, and you don’t face any wind resistance, both of which make running somewhat easier. Many treadmills are padded, making them a good option if you’re carrying a few extra pounds or are injury-prone and want to decrease impact. To better simulate the effort of outdoor running, you can always set your treadmill at a 1-percent incline. When you run outside you get lots of fresh air, pretty scenery, and the thrill of exploring new routes. However, it’s not always easy to gauge your speed or distance and sometimes the weather can make it tough. I avoid the treadmill as MUCH as possible and always head outside when I can to run. But everyone is different – mix it up and find out which option you like best.
- Where should I run? You can run anywhere that’s safe and enjoyable. The best running routes are scenic, well lit, free of traffic, and well populated. Think of running as a way to explore new territory. Use your watch to gauge your distance, and set out on a new adventure on each run. Ask other runners, local run groups, or sporting stores about the best local routes. I recommend getting started with a friendly running club like the one at LULULEMON GRANT AVENUE to get an idea of different outdoor runs you can do.
- I always feel out of breath when I run–is something wrong? Yes, you’re probably trying to run too fast. Relax. Slow down. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to run too fast. Concentrate on breathing from deep down in your belly, and if you have to, take walking breaks.
- How do I prevent getting a side stitch when I run? Side stitches are common among beginners because your abdomen is not used to the jostling that running causes. Most runners find that stitches go away as fitness increases. Many people also recommend avoiding solid foods immediately before a run. When you get a stitch, breathe deeply, concentrating on pushing all of the air out of your abdomen. This will stretch out your diaphragm muscle (just below your lungs), which is usually where a cramp occurs.
- Should I breathe through my nose or my mouth? Both – just make sure you are BREATHING!! It’s normal and natural to breathe through your nose and mouth at the same time. Keep your mouth slightly open, and relax your jaw muscles. And whatever you do DONT chew gum!! It will cause you to tense your jaw (TMJ anyone?) or accidentally swallow… not fun.
- Should I be doing anything in the gym to build my fitness? Working on stretching and flexibility is always helpful, especially to prevent injuries. We use a lot of running specific strength exercises in class. Squats, lunges, and core work are all great to build a strong and safe frame for running. Try my athlete specific body weight strength video for ideas or use this video after a run for the best results:
10. By the end of my run I can barely move—why? Many runners make the mistake of NOT cooling down after a workout. Make sure you budget time to cool down after a run. Walk for a few minutes and stretch your body before ending your workout. If you’re really sore before you finish running, your workout session is too long, too fast, or too hard. Allow your muscles to adapt to running speed, distance, and intensity gradually. And plan for warm-up, cooldown, and recovery!!
11. Can I still call myself a “runner” if I walk so much? YES! If you’re running, no matter how fast or slow, you are a runner. 🙂
Fearless Fitness Challenge of the week: We are ALL RUNNERS.
Everyone can be a runner. Heres a sample walking / running program for you to try. Sample the below workout at an intensity level that feels challenging but comfortable. Make sure to take AT LEAST one day of rest each week and balance out your program with strength and flexibility training. Start and finish each week’s workout below with five minutes of walking. Then, alternate the following run/walk ratios for 30 minutes.
WALK RUN WORKOUT PLAN:
WEEK 1: Two minutes running/four minutes walking
WEEK 2: Three minutes running/three minutes walking
WEEK 3: Four minutes running/two minutes walking
WEEK 4: Five minutes running/three minutes walking
WEEK 5: Seven minutes running/three minutes walking
WEEK 6: Eight minutes running/two minutes walking
WEEK 7: Nine minutes running/one minute walking
WEEK 8: Thirteen minutes running/two minutes walking
WEEK 9: Fourteen minutes running/one minute walking
WEEK 10: Run the whole time!
Other things to check out this week:
- Need to get inspired? Here’s my story on WHY I LOVE RUNNING.
- FOODS that FUEL You. Smart eating tips for any athlete.
- BREAK through a Fitness Plateau