DAVID JAEWON OH
Whether the past year with gyms closed and more time at home got you interested in lacing up again, or you’re just ready to embrace warmer temperatures and the extra daylight hours in the evening, now is a perfect time to start running.
The walk-to-run training plan below has been a fan favorite of Runner’s World readers because it is designed to get you to the point where you can run 30 minutes (about 3.2 km) at a slow, relaxed pace. It’s a simple, progressive walk-to-run program that begins with more walking than running, and gradually evolves into more running than walking.
Once you are able to run 3.2 km nonstop, you can decide on your next goal. You might simply want to continue running 3.2 km at a time, three or four days per week. Research has shown that this is enough to help you lose or maintain weight, and improve many other important health markers, i.e., your cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin response.
Don’t be intimidated by these walk-to-run programs. The first 3 km are the hardest you will ever run. Once you have reached this level of fitness, it’s relatively easy to do more. You simply have to budget the time, and be patient and disciplined in your training.
Here are five key points to consider before you begin the 8-Week Walk-to-Run Program
- If you are over 40, not accustomed to any exercise, or more than 9kg overweight, consult with your physician. Unless you have a known health risk, your doctor will probably encourage you to begin a run-walk program, but it’s always wise to check. You can always start by just walking more before you progress into running.
- Schedule your workouts. You won’t find time for them unless you make time for them. Put them in your phone, calendar, on the front of your refrigerator, or wherever else you keep your schedule.
- Don’t start any of your running days cold. Try doing a bit of a warmup to get loose or walk a little bit before starting your official clock.
- Expect bad days. Everyone has them, but they pass quickly, and the next workout is often better than the previous one. So stick with the program.
- Don’t rush. In the fitness world, rushing leads to injuries and discouragement. Be patient, and go slow. The goal is to reach 30 minutes of continuous running, not to set any records getting there.
Training Tip: To fuel up for your workout, have a piece of fruit or an energy bar about 2 hours before you lace up your shoes. An hour later, drink 230 ml of a sports drink. The drink will ensure that you are fully hydrated, and also that you have sufficient sodium and potassium for a healthy workout.
Training Tip: Always walk 2 to 3 minutes for a warmup before you begin your workout, and walk another 2 to 3 minutes as cooldown afterward. Don’t stretch before running. Save it for after your workout or in the evening while you’re watching TV.
Training Tip: Hold your arms comfortably at your sides while running, aiming for maximum relaxation. Bend them 90 degrees at the elbows, and move them forward and back at your waist. Bend your fingers into a relaxed grasp, and don’t let your hands sway back and forth across the middle of your torso.
Training Tip: In hot, sunny weather, wear sunscreen, sunglasses (to relax your facial muscles), and a visor or cap to keep the sun off your face. Expect to run slower in particularly hot, humid weather, and take more walking breaks as necessary. Run in the early morning or late evening if you can.
Training Tip: On occasion, skip your running and walking workout and do a cross-training workout instead. Bike for 30 to 40 minutes, try the elliptical trainer in a gym, or join a circuit weight-training class. The break from running will refresh you, and you’ll learn new skills while developing new muscles.
Training Tip: Running is a great way to build strong bones, but you also need plenty of calcium – 1,000 miligrams a day, or 1,500 milligrams if you’re over age 50. Drink a glass or two of low-fat milk per day, or enjoy a cup or two of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese. Dark green, leafy vegetables are another great calcium source.
Training Tip: Beginning runners often develop shin splints or sore knees. These pains should pass quickly if you treat them immediately with ice packs after your workouts. Put a bag of frozen peas on your shins or knees for 15 minutes. If the pain persists, take several days off before beginning your training program again.
Training Tip: For clean air and healthy lungs, try not to do your workouts at the side of a busy street or during rush-hour traffic. Find low-traffic streets where any exhaust will be dispersed quickly. Even better, as often as possible, try to run in greenbelts – in parks, on bike trails, around reservoirs, and the like. Success may come quickly to you as a beginning runner, but the race is never won. Run for life.