As the summer blast furnace in Central Texas begins to subside, plenty of folks are going to resolve to –finally!—begin a running program. If that sounds like you, congratulations. There’s no better time of year to start running than today. The fall promises cooler temps and there are all sorts of fun, beginner-friendly races if you want to participate.
If you have never attempted to run before, rest assured that running will deliver plenty of positives to your life. It will have a direct impact on your health with reduced weight, lowered heart rate, improved cardiovascular system and all sorts of other benefits. But the greatest plus might be it’s a fun, social and simple way to stay fit and active.
Even so, the hardest strides any runner takes are the first few, tentative steps on the road to fitness. But regardless of your level of fitness (or lack of it), any relatively healthy person who doesn’t smoke should be able to make the transition from ground zero (in terms of fitness) to runner in about 6-10 weeks.
It will take some dedication to follow the schedule we’ll present and it will also take a firm commitment to exercise at least three or four times per week. No excuses allowed.
All you’ll need to progress from that sofa you’re sitting on to runner is that commitment. So get started.
Before you begin, keep these hints in mind:
- Buy a good pair of running shoes.
- Get comfortable running shorts and shirt.
- Find a partner to begin exercising with.If you’re out of breath while running or walking, slow down. You’re going too fast. This isn’t a race. You should be able to easily converse with your partner while walking or running.
- Make sure you hydrate properly (even in cooler, fall weather) by drinking some water before and after your workout.Warm up by walking for five minutes before each run.
- Easy workouts to get you going from Ground Zero
Each of these workouts should be repeated at least three or four times per week, but no more than five. Do each workout for one week before moving onto the next one.
1. Run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds. Repeat five times. Total workout: 15 minutes.
2. Run two minutes, walk two minutes. Repeat five times. Total workout: 20 minutes.
3. Run three minutes, walk two minutes. Repeat five times. Total workout: 25 minutes.
4. Run five minutes, walk two minutes. Repeat four times. Total workout: 28 minutes.
5. Run eight minutes, walk two minutes. Repeat three times. Total workout: 30 minutes.
6. Run 10 minutes, walk one minute. Repeat three times. Total workout: 33 minutes.
7. Run 15 minutes, walk one minute. Repeat twice. Total workout: 32 minutes.
8. Run 15 minutes, walk 30 seconds. Repeat twice. Total workout: 31 minutes.
9. Run 15 minutes, walk one minute. Repeat three times. Total workout: 48 minutes.
10. Run 30 minutes slowly without stopping. Total workout: 30 minutes.
- Go slowly. Speed doesn’t matter at this point. Being able to move continuously is the key.
- Run at a gentle, sustainable pace.
- Recover (the walk phase) fully at first. As you get fitter, the walk breaks become shorter and the running phases become longer until there are no walk breaks. But, if you still feel if you need to walk, do so.
- Don’t try to push through any pain. If your breathing is labored or there is leg pain or soreness, stop.
- A good place to walk and run is essential. It should be free of heavy traffic and relatively flat (you aren’t ready for Austin’s hills). Ideal places to start: The Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Zilker Park, the Arbor Trails (around Costco in SW Austin) or several other parks in Austin.
- Don’t overdress. Obviously, you’ll sweat more if you do, but exercise less.