Ready to Be a Runner? Here’s How to Get There!
Walking is a great form of exercise with loads of health benefits like weight loss, less stress and a reduced risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. But if you’re looking for a new challenge or feel stuck at the same weight, give running a try. It burns more calories per hour, improves cardiovascular fitness and works different muscles than walking. Running can also be a more efficient way to work out if you’re on a time crunch.
The transition from being a walker to being a runner may seem intimidating, but it can be easy and smooth with the right preparation and steps:
Invest in the right gear. Running shoes are different than walking shoes and should be selected based on your weight, running stance and foot shape. Go to a running store and have an expert properly fit you by watching your form and see here for more details on running shoes. For women, the right sports bra is just as important. If you aren’t supported, you’ll quit after a block.
Ease in. Baby steps are key when it comes to making the transition to running. No one is suggesting you immediately run an hour at a fast pace. You can get there, but take time to get your body familiar with the motion and pace. Start with jogging one out of every five blocks. Then slowly transition to where you’re jogging as much as you are walking. Continue transitioning over time until you are running the entire way. Once you feel comfortable with that, change up your pacing by adding sprints into the intervals. It varies your workout, keeps you entertained and, in the long run, increases your speed.
Take precautionary measures to avoid injury. Never just dive right in to a run. Always start with about five minutes of walking to get your muscles moving and warmed up. And after your run, stretching your hamstrings, calves and hip flexors is important. Find a few great stretches for runners here.
Stick with it. When you first start running, you may only be able to run one block. That’s a start! Keep with it and try to do it regularly. Bodies are made to adapt quickly.
Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when something isn’t right. Don’t fight through a sore knee or speed up when your body is telling you to slow down. Some key signs are the feeling of tightness as well as a stitch in your side. Follow your body’s lead. It’s on your team and it wants what’s best for you!
Set a goal. There are hundreds of 5K’s throughout Michigan. Sign up for a race two months after you start jogging and work towards crossing that finish line.
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Photo credit: Chris Hunkeler