Becoming a runner doesn’t happen overnight. But it is possible for most people to become runners if they set their minds to it.
If you have set a goal to start running, the best place to start is by walking. Once you’re comfortable walking for at least 20-30 minutes at a time 4-5 days a week, you can begin making the transition to running. If you’re not quite there yet in your fitness journey, spend some time increasing the amount of time you walk before starting to run.
To begin transitioning from walking to running, add short intervals of running to your walking workout. Over time, you’ll gradually run more and walk less, and before you know it, you’ll be running throughout your entire workout. The key is to increase the amount of time you run in small increments to help avoid injury. The most common cause of running injuries, like shin splints, runner’s knee and IT band syndrome, is doing too much too soon.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you start to run:
- See your doctor. Before beginning any type of new fitness activity it’s a good idea to make sure your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
- Get a good pair of shoes. Have a professional fit you for shoes that are not only the right size but have the right amount of support for your feet and your stride. Your shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles even if they don’t look worn out.
- Warm up and cool down. Begin each workout by warming up for at least 5 minutes and cooling down for the same amount of time. You can do this by walking at a slow to moderate pace.
- Choose a plan. Find a training plan that is easy to follow. You can use this 7-week plan from Runner’s World or select from other options online. As a general guideline, plan to walk for 1-2 minutes and then run for 10-30 seconds before going back to walking, repeating these intervals for the duration of your workout. As you become more conditioned, increase the amount of time you spend running and decrease the time you walk in between.
- Follow the 10% rule. Stick to the 10% rule to avoid doing too much too fast. This means you shouldn’t increase the amount of time you run from week to week by more than 10%.
- Space out your running days. Aim to walk/run 3-5 days a week. Your body needs time to adapt to your increasing activity so give your body a rest in between. On the days you’re not running, do some cross training, such as swimming, cycling, yoga or strength-training, or just take it easy. You can also go for a low-intensity walk on rest days but don’t overdo it.
- Listen to your body. It’s normal to experience some soreness and muscle aches as you push your body to move faster or farther than it’s used to. But if you have pain that doesn’t go away, gets worse or is severe, rest for a few days. If the pain still doesn’t subside, it may be time to see a doctor.