5 Steps to becoming a runner

Want to start running? You'll be in good company, considering almost 60 million Americans regularly hit the road, trail, or tread, according to Statista research.

Though running is one of the most accessible forms of exercise out there, becoming a runner can be a little more complicated than just lacing up and putting one foot in front of the other. (Unless you don't care about burning lungs, aching legs, and shin splints, that is.)

Whether you've never run a full mile, want to finish your first 5k, or are ready to train for a half-marathon, these training, fueling, and injury-prevention tips will make you a better runner than ever—and yes, even help you enjoy every step.

1. Don’t be afraid to start with walking.

If you’ve never laced up your sneaks for a run before, ease into a consistent cardio routine by walking for about 20 minutes, three times a week, says Colleen M. Brough, DPT, director of the Columbia University RunLab.

From there, progress your walks into run-walk interval workouts, Brough recommends. Start with 20 minutes four times a week, then bump the time up to 30 to 35 minutes.

“Run-walk intervals help minimize the risk of injury and can make the process of starting out more enjoyable and less daunting,” says Megan Roche, MD, running coach for Strava. “Increasing the number and duration of running intervals versus walking intervals is a great way to progress over time.”

As you get more comfortable, alternate between 60 seconds of running and walking—and eventually work your way up to a non-stop run.

2. Use your breath to find your pace.

Sure, you might know how to run, but knowing what kind of pace you can hold is a whole other story.

New runners almost always start running too fast and then burn out, says Brandon T. Vallair, USA Track & Field Certified Level 1 Coach and owner of Run for Speed in Dallas.

Though you might associate the word "running" with speed, give yourself permission to slow it down.

To control your tempo, use the “talk test” and maintain a speed at which you can easily converse or sing, suggests Vallair. If you're gasping for breath, slow down. If you can belt out the chorus to a Bruno Mars song on your iPod, pick it up a bit.

"The idea is to finish each run wanting to do a little bit more or go a little bit faster," says Leivers. "It makes it easier to get out there the next time, because you feel like there's more to accomplish."

3.- Focus on minutes instead of miles.

How you measure your runs is totally up to you, but thinking in time instead of distance may be less daunting.

After all, setting out to run for 30 minutes gives you more wiggle room to have a bad day or take it slow than vowing to run three miles.

4.- Progress smartly and safely.

If you have your eyes set on a race (especially a half-marathon or longer), you'll (of course!) need to dial up your distance. However, it's key to do so slowly.

First, designate just one run each week as your long run, says Leivers. While you can add a mile or two to that run over time, keep the rest of your runs the same.

Leivers's number-one rule: Increase your total weekly mileage every other week by no more than the number of days per week you run. For instance, if you run three days a week, you can increase your mileage by three miles every other week.

And number two: Keep your long run to no more than half your weekly total mileage to prevent overdoing it during any single outing. So, if you run 10 miles a week, that long run should be five miles or less.

5.- Mix up your runs.

Once you can run for about 30 minutes straight, you can start adding intervals—which will help you improve your overall pace by switching up the stimulus on your body—to your routine, says Brough.

Plus, “switching up workouts is a great way to keep the fun rolling," says Roche.

Two ways to try intervals:

Hill strides: Run uphill for 20 to 30 seconds, then jog downhill or on flat road until recovered.

Speed intervals: Alternate between one minute at about 75-percent effort and one minute of easy jogging.

Sprint intervals: Alternate between one minute of all-out sprinting and five minutes of easy jogging.

posted Saturday May 1st
by Women´s Health