Many of us dream about running marathons or half-marathons in exotic locales but are too intimidated by the training process to see if it can ever become a reality.
By setting a more realistic goal, like running a 5K, your running dream can come true in as little as six to eight weeks.
The first thing you need to do is find a comfortable, supportive pair of running shoes. If you have any chronic health issues or have been sedentary for more than a year, you should also consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Here’s a good how-to guide for people who want to start on their own or with a running buddy. If you’re already eyeing a certain 5K you can find numerous tailored training programs online.
1 – Walk before you run
If you’ve never been a runner before, it’s a good idea to start out walking for 20-30 minutes four times a week for at least a couple of weeks. Then you can start run-walk interval training. For example, you can begin running for 30 seconds at a time, then walk for 2 minutes.
Build yourself up to 6-8 minutes of running for every 30 seconds to 1 minute of walking, however long it takes. This reduces your risk of joint injuries and makes the process of training less daunting.
2 – Control your pace
Make sure you’re able to fairly easily sing or hold a conversation while you run — you shouldn’t be gasping for breath. On the other hand, if you’re belting “Sweet Caroline” or yelling at your running partner, it could be a good idea to start pushing yourself a little more.
3 – A few days at a time
Don’t run every day, at least for the first three to four months of your training, so your joints can continue to adjust to the repetitive motions you’re putting them through. If you start at three days per week and hold to that schedule for six weeks, you can consider adding a fourth day if you’re comfortable and satisfied with your progress.
Cathy Clements | Photo: Blushing Cactus Photography