With the cooler temperatures, fall is a great time to start running. It’s great exercise and can be a huge stress reliever. However, if you don’t start off right, your runs might be the opposite. The best way to start running, even for highly active people, is to start with a run/walk program. Starting off in this manner is highly beneficial because it allows you to exercise for longer than if you were to go out and only run (which helps increase your cardiovascular stamina). It also builds up your cardio without injury or discouragement, and allows your body, especially your joints, to acclimate.
As you begin your running program, use these tips to help you enjoy running — and make you want to stick with it:
Measure each run in minutes, not miles. The goal is to run/walk for at least 30 minutes, eventually building up to 30 minutes of continuous running. It might seem contrary to walk every three to seven minutes, but the goal is minutes, not miles. Determining your run/walk intervals isn’t an exact science, so you’ll need to experiment and figure out what works for you. If you’re off the couch, start slowly — an injury will only hamper your progress. Your run/walk intervals might be 1/3 (one minute running and three minutes walking). If you’re highly active, you might want to try five repeats of 5/2, or four repeats of 7/2 intervals. Start and finish each workout with a few minutes of fast walking.
Commit to a schedule. Commit to running three times a week. Don’t run two days in a row. Do at least two days of cross-training per week — cardio and strength/flexibility, and take one day off per week. Active recovery — think foam rolling and easy stretching — is OK.
Measure pace by effort. During your run intervals, you should be able to talk in a conversational tone. If you start to feel like you’re losing control of your breathing, slow down. Your walk intervals should be fast walking to keep your heart rate up.
Use technology to your advantage. We recommend buying a Gymboss because it alerts you via a beep or vibration when the interval is up. You can set it for up to 99 intervals and clip it to your shorts or pants. No need to monitor time or remember numbers. Use Map My Fitness to track your route.
Listen to your body. Monitor how your body feels throughout the run, and adjust the run minutes accordingly. If you start too fast or do too much, you’re more likely to injure yourself. You’ll feel sore when you first begin; that soreness should dissipate after a week or two. If pain continues, stop and see a doctor. After you’ve completed two weeks of run/walk intervals, start adding one to two minutes to your run intervals.