If you aren’t already a runner, perhaps you’ve considered it. Logistically it’s the easiest workout of them all — pick up your newest pair of running shoes and go!
Yet only about 15% of Americans take part in running sports, according to a study released last year by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
The other 85% of us don’t, mostly due to past attempts that died out quickly or perceptions that it’s too hard, too boring, too easy to get injured.
Many people walk instead, but in most cases if you’re able to walk, you can run for a much better, faster cardio workout. One study found 5 minutes of running is equivalent to 15 minutes of walking, in terms of cardio benefits. If you have a chronic health condition, talk to your health care provider first.
Pretty much everyone else can ease into a jogging or running hobby for their health, as long as you have realistic expectations and goals. Don’t start out training for a marathon, and don’t expect to reach speeds attainable by championship athletes; this is how most running dreams end up dying.
If this sounds like you, or you’ve never dreamed of running because it just doesn’t appeal to you, it’s still a good idea to try it. You may discover it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for to get the health and physical results you’ve been after.
Here are some tips for powering through walking into jogging and on through to running!
Walk-Run or Jog-Walk
Go out for these at least two or three times a week to get your body acclimated to the motions and impact of the activity without thinking about your speed. Start out by walking for 2 minutes and jogging for 1 minute for 20 to 30 minutes, then dial it up to 2 walking and two running when you’re ready, usually in around a week. Then start pushing it to 3 minutes running for every 1 minute walked and move ahead from there.
Set Small Goals
Another way to kick things off can be to simply start running and see how long you can keep going. You can start with a goal of 5 or 10 minutes to start with if that helps to motivate you.
Focus on Breathing
During your first short, slow runs, try taking deep belly breaths in and out through your nose and mouth. Needing to gasp for oxygen is the quickest way to get your heartbeat and brain racing, leading to panic and the need to stop.
Try to Avoid Treadmills
Beginning runners can develop bad posture from hunching over the display of a treadmill, and their legs develop strength more quickly when they’re pushing off from a solid surface every step they take rather than from its rolling belt.
There are many additional benefits to exercising outside, but if the weather isn’t cooperating and you don’t have an indoor track to use, treadmills are still better than not running at all.