ask a runner: getting started
posted: April 30, 2010
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.
I am 28 years old and about 20 lbs overweight and have never, ever been a strong runner. I have a dream to experience a runner’s high. How do I get started and what are realistic steps to progress? I would be happy to run on pavement, but living in Banff offers me so many great trails that I am keen to experience at a whole new speed. Thanks for any insight you might be able to offer me.
a runner responds
My first recommendation is to find a friend or a beginner’s running group to help get you going. If you are venturing out on your own or with a friend, consider starting with 1 minute of walking and 1 minute of running for 20 minutes. If you cannot complete this, then try a 30 second run with a 1 minute walk. Once you are able to complete 1 and 1s comfortably for 20 minutes, build your time by 4 minutes each run until you get to around 40 minutes. Once you’ve nailed 1 and 1s, try 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking (2 & 1s). Again, go out for 20 minutes your first time, and slowly build your time for each run by 4 minutes. Do not run on consecutive days, especially when beginning, but aim to do this 3 times per week. Once you are running 2 & 1s comfortably for 30 or 40 minutes, then you can begin to experiment with longer run intervals, or shorter walk intervals. The trails are fine, and are nicer on the joints compared to the pavement, so take advantage for sure! Beware that you may encounter more hills on the trails, so you may have to speedwalk up these instead of running during your running interval, and that’s fine! You may want to also pick up a copy of “Running: Getting Started”, by Jeff Galloway. Good luck and enjoy your running experience Sara!
I am definitely considering overweight to obese, but I know that running can be one of the best cardiovascular workouts there is. Any advice for the extreme novice who’s overweight and utterly intimidated by a running club filled with uber-athletic types? Also – I have diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (since age 3) so maybe interval training. Treadmill or pavement? Shoes? I’m completely lost and most resources I’ve found are for people that are already fairly fit. -Kristine
“Everybody was a beginner at some point” – Ainslie
a runner responds
I would be very surprised if your local running store did not offer a run clinic or regular run group for beginners. Check out www.runningroom.com – they have a ton of locations and offer lots of learn to run programs. If you genuinely have not found something in your area, then grab a friend and read my answer to Sara’s question on starting out with running. Do not hide behind your weight or insecurities. Everybody was a beginner at some point, and I know that wherever you are, there are others out there who are also new. As for shoes, head to your local running specialty store, not a big box sports store. They will be trained to assess your stride and will be able to recommend the shoes that will best fit your feet. Be prepared to shell out anywhere between $90 and $160 for a decent pair of runners! I also recommend the same book for you, “Running: Getting Started”, by Jeff Galloway.
Hi there, I have tried to get into running for years off and on and can never seem to stick with it. I am really active, however I want to run as I love being outside and travel a lot so it would be great to be able to go running when there is no gym around. Can you give some tips on how to get started? My calves and ankles seem to tighten up 20-30 minutes into my run and even though I’m not tired or winded I need to stop. Any help would be great! Cheers.
a runner responds
Meagan, read my response to Sara’s question for my guide on getting started with running. With regards to the tightness, I would recommend purchasing a foam roller and trying out a technique called SMR (self myofascial release). Start by doing these exercises after every run, or every workout you do when your body is nice and warmed-up. Check out www.my-physical-therapy-coach.com/foam-roller-exercises.html and specifically try the exercises labeled “Gastroc Soleus Stretch”, and “Pereonal SMR Stretch”.
I weight train and do yoga, but would like to start running to challenge myself with something new. Any suggestions on how to start? My endurance for running is low and I can usually do ok if I alternate with power walking. Any tips would be great – I need the motivation, and to be told I can totally do it! -Ann
a runner responds
YOU CAN TOTALLY DO IT!! It sounds like you’re on the right track with alternating your power walking, and for more info on the beginner’s guide to running, check out my response to Sara’s question. Also, find a friend with a similar goal, or else join a local run store’s run club – there are always beginner’s clinics. Once you are able to run more comfortably, set a race goal for yourself – a 5km or an 8km race is a great way to stay motivated and on track with your training.
Ainslie is the first run expert featured in our Ask a Runner series. Check out her website to get to know her better: http://triplethreattraining.ca/