Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Become a Runner

You: I want to be a runner, but it's just not me. I can't.
Me: Can't schmant! Baby, we were born to run.

Bruce Springsteen wasn't talking about exercise in his smash hit "Born to Run," but The Boss does make a very good point. We were, in fact, born to run. And yes—that means you were, too. Unfortunately, some of us are plagued by faulty knees and bad hips which make running of any kind virtually impossible. But for those of you who don't run simply because you think you can't—well, you can. Trust me, I hated running. But now I can't get enough of it! And I wish the same for you, which is why I've put together some hints and tips that will help you start running.

First and foremost, take stock of your body and sole. Sorry...soles. As in, your shoes. Make sure they're supportive and suitable for running because bad shoes lead to aches and pains. And if you don't fall in the faulty knee/bad hip group as mentioned above, and if you don't have any other outstanding medical issues that might curb your efforts, then you're good to go. Lace up, stretch out and commence your usual walking routine. When you hit your stride, take yourself into a slow jog. Keyword: slow. It's important to remember that running has a slightly different effect on the body than walking. To avoid injury, don't push too hard at the beginning. Though it may feel as if you could go forever, you'll need to give your body time to catch up to your brain. Try jogging slowly for 30 seconds, then scale it back to your walking pace until you've caught your breath. Then, when you're ready, jog for another 30 seconds. Repeat this process the entire length of your workout. If you can only do one or two bouts of running, so be it. Next time you lace up, you might find yourself capable of running an additional 30 seconds.

The goal is to progressively increase running time while decreasing time spent walking. It's not a race, so again—take it slow. You won't turn into a runner overnight, but that's OK. It's important that you give your body time to adjust, which brings me to another point. Consider adding some additional strength training exercises to your routine. You'll notice the different, and you'll decrease your chances of getting injured. And last, but certainly not least, believe in yourself. If you want to run, and if you're medically capable of doing so, you'll be able to. Just stay focused, and listen to your body. And keep me posted on your progress!

1 comment:

Bethany said...

I'm a testimony to the strength training advice. I have bad knees, and landed myself in PT due to improper training. After 3 months of hard core physical therapy and personal training, my trainer said I may be able to try 2 minutes running 5 minutes walking. (I had been whining about never being able to run again). Now, I can go 10-12 minutes if I'm having a good day! Granted, I'll never be a 5K race winner, and if I go for longer than a 5K on the treadmill I hurt a bit the next day. But, I owe my ability to speed it up to my trainer. My hams, quads, and glutes were not strong enough, thus making my knee issues much worse! If you want to run and live in Tara's neck of the woods, hire her. You will be pounding the pavement in no time! :)

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