Let me begin by saying that I am NOT an expert! I am not even an athlete! I did not play any sport in high school; I was not even a high school cheerleader! However, I have pretty much always exercised. My past exercise experience includes walking, a variety of aerobic classes, weightlifting, the stair stepping machine, and playing tennis. I ran for a short time before I was pregnant with Leah, but I did not begin running as a regular form of exercise until a little over two years ago.
My reasons for starting to run were not really that spectacular, and they did not include getting in shape or weight loss (although I did hope for those benefits!). The two main reasons I began to run were 1. Jimmy and the children had been running for a year, and I felt left out. 2. I felt guilty! I was taking my children to the track to run, or instructing them to run on the treadmill, but I was just a spectator! Of course I had a few excuses....mainly that I had a one year old and and three year old. I mentioned to Jimmy that I would like to start running, and he promptly bought me a double jogging stroller!
I did not take the time to educate myself about how to begin running. I just took off, trying to keep up with Jimmy and the children. Big mistake! I battled knee pain from the beginning, and I think I just did too much too soon. But after taking 6 weeks off last spring to let my knee heal, I spent time reading about beginning running. When I restarted, I used a method advocated by Jeff Galloway--the run/walk method. This allowed me to rebuild my strength slowly. I followed his plan, and 5 1/2 months after starting back, I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles)!
Running/walking is such a convenient sport. It is a lifelong sport, and it can be enjoyed by the whole family. The advice I am listing is primarily for women---mothers in particular. Young women can progress faster, and if you are beginning to run with your children, you will find that they progress faster than you too. Youth is on their side! Remember, I am NOT an expert! This is just friend-to-friend advice!
1. Educate your self about beginning running. I recommend reading books or reading online articles about running. Some key authors are Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon. You can also google beginning running, beginner 5K training plans, beginner running training, etc.
2. Walk first! If you are not walking for 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week, begin there. Most of the beginning running programs will advise this. Walk briskly! This is not the time to chat on your cell phone!
3. Wear decent shoes---keds or fashion shoes don't count. As soon as you commit to sticking with running/walking, you need to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Most of my friends' husbands have rewarded them with real running shoes after they have ran/walked for 2 months or so. My husband bought me my first pair of running shoes after 6 weeks of running. The quality running shoes DO make a difference. Be prepared to spend around $100 for a good pair of running shoes. Locate a small outdoor/running type store to purchase your first pair of running shoes. The salespeople at these type of stores really know their products and can fit you correctly. Be prepared to walk/jog on a treadmill or around the store for them. They need to watch you so they can properly fit you.
4. Run slowly! After you have walked for a few weeks, and you are ready to insert a few jogs into your workout, run slowly! I cannot stress this enough. You should be able to talk while running. It is not a race! You can prevent injury by walking to warm up and running slowly. The speed will come over time!
5. After you have completed a couple of weeks of a program like this: walk 10 minutes; run 2 minutes/walk 2 minutes, I would extend my total time running/walking before I would try to run for longer stretches.
6. Don't give up! Commit to running/walking 4 days a week. I don't like to run 3 days in a row; I usually run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday or Saturday. I like to run 5 days a week in the summer when I have more time, but I have been able to maintain my fitness level with just 4 days a week.
7. Expect aches, pains, and general muscle soreness. Every one of my friends have experienced knee pain. Use your judgement, but do not be alarmed if you ache! Rest usually cures most aches and pains, so you need to run/walk every other day at first. I have taken Motrin 4-5 nights a week for over 2 years because of general aching in my legs at night! Of course if you have a serious injury, please get it checked out. You can search online for general advice about running aches, pains, and injuries.
8. A few links to get you started:
If you are just beginning to run, please leave me a comment from time to time with your progress. I want to encourage you! If you stick with running/walking, you will feel great! Running is a super stress reliever!