How to Turn Your Walk into a Run
You have went from not working out at all, to walking almost everyday, and you have been consistent for months. The walks has made a big difference in your health, but now you feel like you need to take your exercise to another level, so you are considering running. You have some concerns about running, being that you heard that it can lead to joint issues, such as knee pain, hip pain, etc. Well if done right, running can have tremendous benefits, while avoiding the catastrophes. Running has been shown to: decrease blood pressure, increase cardiovascular functioning, increase HDL (the good cholesterol), improve aerobic endurance, increase muscle strength (especially in the lower body and core), promote better sleep, etc.
Now that you understand the benefits of running you should get clearance to run from your doctor especially if you are over 40 or you have a history of heart disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, etc.
Let’s discuss how to embark on this great journey of running.
Start at Ground Level
The number one important thing is to get the right shoes. Your running shoes is the one and only equipment that you use when running so it is very important. Having incorrect running shoes can lead to problems with your ankle, knees, hips, and even up to your shoulders.
These are a few tips to finding the right running shoes:
- Get a running shoe salesperson to help you pick out a shoe, they are usually taught good pointers to pick a good running shoe for a particular person.
- Go find a running shoe at the end of the day, because at the end of the day your feet swells up, which is similar to what happens to your feet after a run. Your feet can swell, up to a inch and a half after a run, so you will need to get a shoe one or one and half size larger than you normally wear.
- Come with a old pair of shoes so you can see the patterns on that shoe, and that can help you pick a shoe with certain cushions in particular areas.
- Pick a shoe that is the most comforting and fits your feet the best, don’t go for the best looking, or the most expensive, etc.
- Check to see the store return policy, because you may need to return the shoe if after running for some minutes the shoe doesn’t feel right, then it’s best to try another shoe.
Develop a Plan
If you don’t have a plan you will not last very long. It’s great to have a goal when you start running. A goal could be to run a 5k in 3 months, or even a 3k. Also make a schedule that you can follow consistently. It is very important to be consistent with your exercise, it’s not about starting off strong then not returning, you will never see results. Plan to run 3x a week, or even 2x a week, but just make sure you don’t miss your running days. If you do miss a running day, then make it up, but the worst is when you miss running days for weeks. Make a plan for how long you are going to run. It can be, starting off you will run a mile. You can start off with a time, such as running for 15 minutes. If you start off with a distance, track the time it takes you to complete the distance and if you start with a time track how far you ran in that time. When you track your workouts you can track your improvements. Some people start off running, doing too much and hurt themselves or they work too hard and don’t want to come back. It is better to start slow, you can walk and run, and as you get better you can run for the whole session.
Hit the Road
It is very important to find the best surface to run, because the surface will have a tremendous impact on your body.
- Grass is a great surface to run, being that it is a soft surface, but the down side is it can be uneven. A new runner needs to be careful, and makes sure that they don’t step into holes or bad spots in the grass.
- Running trails are good surfaces because they are also relatively soft when running on dirt and cinder. With this surface you still have to worry about the very unevenness of the surface, or tripping on wood, rocks, etc.
- A high school or college track is the best surface to run on, the rubber surface is very soft and the surface is very even.
- Treadmills are a great to run on because it takes the weather condition out of the equations so you can always run consistently. But running on the treadmill is a lot easier because the ground is moving for you, so it is best to put the treadmill on a 2% incline to simulate the on the ground running.
- Concrete, is the surface that is most available to everyone but it’s the worst for your joints. Concrete is very jarring on your joints on each running impact, it is better to find other surfaces to run on. But if you cannot find any other surfaces, do not run very fast on concrete, which makes the impact greater. Also it would be better to not run very long distances on concrete, it is better to break the run up, by walking, or running another day.
Listen to Your Body
Make sure you warm up and stretch before you run, this is very crucial because it allows your joints to get ready to run and prevents injury. Also cool downs are important as it allows your blood and breathing to stabilize. If you start having pains, or things start feeling tight, you should slow down or stop running and walk it out until the pain goes away. If the pain is very painful or continuously nagging you should come back to run another day, while you try to figure out the cause of the pain. Pain is not to be ignored it is to be investigated. You should push your body but don’t push your body to the point of mental torture, the goal is to get better over a long period of time not trying to get better immediately. Doing too much and not listening to your body will cause injury or cause you to quit. So let’s make lifetime habits that will greatly benefit your health and fitness.