You want to be a runner? Ok. You can’t just wake up one morning and do it. You need to start slowly, but be progressive. Intensity, initially, should be moderate (60 – 70% of maximum heart rate) – not high. It takes a little time and patience to run, not long, but not overnight either. If health permits, start off with a combination of walking and “jogging”.
Your body needs time to adapt to the impact of running on your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. You also need time to adapt an efficient, natural and economic (on energy) running style.
Novice runners waste a lot of energy at the start by bouncing too much during each stride. Once you get the hang of it, when you find your running mojo – your rhythm – you will place less strain on your body and actually enjoy it. Music can help you find or maintain a rhythm and improve your running ability.
As a beginner, you will make quick gains in aerobic capacity, i.e. how far you can run without getting out of breath. However, your muscles, joints and tendons, need a little more time to adapt. Therefore, while you may be tempted to run faster, pace yourself in the first few weeks and give your joints time to adjust. Instead focus on the steady, continuous rhythmical movement of your run and making the switch from jogging to power walking and back again. This plan minimizes your chances of injury.
If you are new to running try one of these three running programs:
1. 10 week running program – from zero to 20 minutes continuous running.
2. 4 week running program for those newish to running, but fit from other cardiovascular activities (e.g. cycling, swimming, rowing) – running 30 minutes continuously.
3. 10 week running program for advanced beginners – from running 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
HOW TO RUN: THE “TALK TEST”
The point isn’t to go as fast as you can or how far you can get in the running interval. The idea is to go slow and steady. You need to pass the “talk test”. That is you are able to speak in complete sentences while you are running at moderate intensity – or thereabouts. If you can only respond in one-word grunts to your running buddy’s questions, you are running too fast. The main point is simply that you shouldn’t be gasping for air while running. You should be breathing deeply, but not be out of breath. YOU’RE NOT SPRINTING.
Don’t worry if running at that level feels like you’re going in slow motion. Every time you run, you will be fitter than the last time, which means you’ll be able to go faster while maintaining the same moderate intensity and passing the “talk test”. That is why you might see experienced runners running at an incredibly fast pace, but still talking to each other. They are running at moderate intensity, but because they are fit from practicing, they are going faster. If you are running alone, try humming a line or two of a favorite song to work out how intensely you’re running. Obviously, if you have a heart rate monitor, all of this is unnecessary. Generally you are able to pass the “talk test” at around 70% of maximum heart rate. Equally, if you can speak in paragraphs you’re going too slowly.