We all know running is good for us, but it can be intimidating to get started, or get started again after a long break. Becoming a runner is like building a race car. It requires developing both an engine and a chassis. You need cardiorespiratory fitness and you also need strong and durable muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your legs and feet. If you’re already aerobically fit from cycling or swimming or cross-country skiing or some other sport, then all you need to add is the ability of your lower limbs to take a pounding. If you’re beginning at the beginning, be patient with yourself.
- Haste makes waste. Ease into being a runner. Start with becoming a walker first. If you’re already walking at least 3 miles several days a week, begin jogging at intervals. Walk for 5 minutes, jog for 2 minutes. Gradually increase the amount of time spent jogging until you’re jogging as much as you’re walking.
- Engage your mind. Pay attention to form. Two books that are excellent for teaching running form are Pose Method of Running by Dr. Nicholas Romanov and Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. The most important postural issue for beginners is probably foot strike. You want your foot to land under your center of gravity. If your foot lands in front of your body, you’ll end up with shin splints. If your foot lands behind your center of gravity, you’ll lose power or fall on your face. This is somewhat intuitive, but surprisingly not as common sense as you’d think. If you begin running and feel a sharp pain, try refocusing your attention on landing your foot directly under your center of gravity.
- Cues can help improve your running form. Most running coaches advise focusing on one cue per workout. Once these cues are a part of your tool bag, you’ll find yourself bringing them out whenever you need them. Some of my favorite cues include: needle in cotton (stiff body posture, not loosey goosey, but soft landings), slight forward lean– (Do not bend at waist!!- imagine your body is straight as a board and your chin is a couple of inches ahead of your feet), hot coals (fast feet, short fast stride, you don’t want your feet to stay in contact w the ground for long), pull the ground (like it’s a self-propelled treadmill), lead w your chin (keep chin level, but again ahead of feet, neck relaxed), and relaxed arm swing (this one comes in handy when your legs are tired, imagine your arms are powering you along).
- Gradually increase your running mileage by 20% per week. For example: Once you are running the whole time, not walking, 3 miles a day, 5 days a week for a total of 15 miles; the next week aim for 18 miles total. The week after that, increase to 22 miles, and so on and so forth. This allows your tendons and ligaments, bones and muscles to develop hardiness and durability. Jeff Horowitz’s Quick Strength for Runners is another resource for building running-specific strength.
- Congratulations, once you’ve marched out of your comfort zone and into running, you’re ready to march out of your comfort zone again and train for your first race!
Above is an example of a 10 week training plan, and at Get Fit we will offer a 6 week training class beginning the week of June 20th and ending with the Hot Blooded Race at Get Fit on July 30th. If you would like more information, please come into the store at 1911 S Georgia for details or call us at 806-350-4262 or sign up through our online shop.