Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gratuitous Running Advice, part 1

1. Do some walking first.

While I'm in an advice-dispensing sort of mood, here's the first part of an occasional series for the new runner. This advice isn't based on any great expertise, just on my own experience of beginning running, and a distillation of assorted websites. Follow it at your own risk!

So, here's the first thing: Get some walking done before you start on the actual running. If you haven't done any running before, then it's going to come as a bit of a surprise to your legs. They're going to say, "You expect us to do WHAT?", and they're going to say it loudly. So you need to get them used to the idea gradually, and walking is an excellent way of doing this.

In the longer term, your running isn't going to be constrained by how good your lungs, heart and muscles are at expending energy. Rather, the limiting factor is going to be how good your joints, bones and tendons are at coping with the strain that running puts on them. Joints and so on strengthen much more gradually than your muscular fitness improves, so it's very important to give them time to catch up. This is the reason that about 93% of running blog postings consist of runners complaining about their latest injury. Starting with walking is a great way to help avoid these sorts of problems.

You should aim to walk for around 20 to 30 minutes a day, five or six days a week, for at least a couple of weeks before you do any running at all. You don't need any special equipment, just some reasonably comfortable shoes - they don't have to be running shoes. Aim for a brisk but comfortable pace. If you can't do both, just go with comfortable.

One problem with walking, it must be admitted, is that it's really pretty dull - when you actually start running, it's going to be a lot more fun. But there are various ways of counteracting this - you could find a friend to walk with, or you could just relax and enjoy the natural world around you: the singing birds, the rustle of the breeze (or, on my walk this lunchtime, gale) in the trees, and so on. And then, of course, there's always the iPod. But just one word of warning - you may feel that you're quite capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, but walking and fiddling with your Nano is a little more challenging. It's all too easy, as I found out today, for the slippery little fellow to escape from your grasp, dangle tantalisingly for a moment at the end of the headphone cable, before finally parting company with the jack and falling onto the hard, hard ground, irreversibly scratching its formerly beautiful, unsullied casing. Still works, though, at least.


Blogger Sue said...

yup Phil, I did that before I started!! Actually I used to walk most places, well to bus stop and back anyway! When I started trying to get fit again, I increased the walking and bought a bike too! I'm now allergic to buses! (and save myself a small fortune!)

Look forward to reading the next advice you dispense for newbie runners!

29 March, 2006 00:12  
Blogger Thomas said...

I started running and walking at the same time: 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking. Soon that changed into 5 running/1 walking, and then 9 running/1 walking. After two months of that I felt brave enough to just run, and haven't looked back.

It's not as boring as walking on its own, and when you get tired it's only a little bit further to the next walk break.

30 March, 2006 14:55  
Blogger Downhillnut said...

I love your humourous way of writing, but you need to do it more often. Where's Running Advice, Part 2?

Also love the toddler's un-toys post :)

18 May, 2006 21:27  

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