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The Importance Of Starting Slowly In Running

You’re finally tired of getting left behind by your fitter co-workers who appear to scramble up your office stairs without breaking a sweat, even while you have to pause at each level and reach your floor trying frantically to steady your wildly beating heart. You’re taking up running. If you can convince your best friend to get fit with you, that’s a source of added incentive because you obviously wouldn’t want to discourage your buddy.

Running is a wonderful method to reduce anxiety, tone up, drop a few pounds, and generally feel good about yourself simply because you are being proactive.  If you’re over 40 and have essentially been sedentary for years or have a critical health issues, it is a good idea to see your health care provider before you start any physical fitness routine.

Walking is the ideal preliminary activity for this. Begin by going out for a walk for only 15 minutes per day. If it’s not possible to go for a daily walk, then make it every other day.  Walk at a quick pace but not at speed walking pace.  Try to remember to tighten your midsection and backside and ensure your shoulders are down and unstrained and your head is up. You should still be able to carry on a conversation but that can be a bit difficult to keep going.

If, after the first day you sense that you can actually walk for 20 minutes, then do it. If you can’t, stick to your usual time but strive to increase the time to half an hour after a week.  Keep a diary of how long you have walked for and don’t worry about how far you’ve walked.  As your endurance improves, you are going to discover that you’re, in fact, getting across considerably longer distances in a half an hour walk than you were capable of back when you initially launched your training.

At this early stage, don’t be overly concerned about doing a pre-walk warm up routine. Just begin your daily walk at a leisurely tempo and then, as suggested above, increase it.  When you get home, you might want to do calf and hamstring stretches, keeping each in position for between 15 and 30 seconds.  Likewise, make sure to stretch your shoulders, back, and arms.

The most important gear you would need is a good pair of running shoes that should fit quite snuggly but comfortably and offer good support to your feet.  Wear lightweight clothing made of wicking fabric which draw off perspiration and keep you dry.  Avoid cotton-made garments and stockings as these stay damp and make your walk uncomfortable. Wear a reflective running vest or reflective belt so that you are highly visible to traffic.

If your objective is to lose weight, it is recommended that you build up to 45 to 60 minutes at a fast pace for at least 5 days a week.  Gradually build up to this optimum level over at least 4 weeks. If the aim is to enhance general health and fitness, you might want to complete 30 minutes fast walking each day of the week, if that’s possible. For those who are developing stamina and cardiovascular fitness, a walk at a very fast pace for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 or 4 days each week is really helpful – don’t forget to build up slowly.

Steven McKlean