Starting a new running program can be a little frightening and sometimes downright intimidating. There is no right or wrong way to begin however there are things that can make it a little more enjoyable. A good place to start is to sign up for a beginning runners group. These groups are geared toward individuals who have little or no experience with running and help them to ease into their new activity. Lectures on topics such as proper clothing, running shoes, stretching, injury prevention and repair as well as provides the opportunity to ask questions of knowledgeable runners. Belonging to a group can be intimidating initially as new runners tend to think that others are farther ahead than they are themselves. This same group dynamic however proves over time to not only expose new runners to others who run at the same pace, but the added incentive of motivation. One of the biggest motivators for all runners, not just beginners, is knowing someone else is waiting for you to run with them, an excellent push to get you out the door when you would rather stay in your cozy bed or on your comfortable couch. Homework is always provided and will make the overall process more fun and satisfying as you progress week over week. Start by doing a five minute walking warm-up, then start slowly running, walk when you need to, repeat. Run as long as you can with no time constraints. It may be a minute, five minutes or more. If you slow to a walk try to distinguish between muscular or respiratory fatigue. If it is breathing, try slowing your running speed down a bit to gain control of your breath remembering to forcefully exhale from your belly. If it is muscular take a stretch break and begin again. Continue with this run/walk pattern for 20 minutes then finish it with a five minute walk and a stretch. Start with three times a week trying to extend the run time until you can run 20 minutes continuously. At this time you can either add five to ten more minutes to your three times a week run or you can add another 30 minute session to your three times a week, but not both. All new runners need to be aware that there is a timeline that your body follows as it improves, and rushing the process can lead to injury or burnout. Know that the cardiovascular system improves before the muscular system which improves before the respiratory system and that muscles fibers can improve faster than bone density and connective tissue. Finally including weight training, balance, proprioceptive work and rolling/stretching can ensure you become a runner for life.
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