Saturday, June 12, 2010

Running for Beginners: Getting Started & How To Keep Going Pt. 1

     Recently I have been told by several people that they are interested in taking up running and were wondering if I had any tips. I tried to keep my answers brief, however, I found this to be such a challenge that I felt it would be better for t give the bestquality of advice possible by writing a detailed blog post on the subject.

     At the beginning of this year I was not a runner. I swam, I walked, I took karate, I did weights and cardio circuits, but a runner I was not. I had always wanted to take up running but could never find the will power (or the oxygen) to run for more than 30 seconds before quitting. It seemed my fate was sealed, a runner I was not to be.

     This all changed though this year when I met up with a good friend of mine this January. We got to talking and somehow landed on the topic of marathons. Before you know it we somehow came up with the idea that we should try running a half marathon. I was inspired by the conversation and began training for the Georgia ING 2010 Half Marathon.

     I have now been running for almost 6 months (by the end of June) and I now run 5 miles of forest trails almost every morning (I would run more if I had the time)! Most of what I've learned about running has come from my own experimentation and the tid bits I picked up here and there from my family's friends while growing up. I would now like to pass on what I've learned to all you wonderful people out there who want to become runners. ;-)

Amanda's How To Start Running Guide 

Part One: Planning
     Before you can start running it's helpful to first. Take out a pencil, three pieces paper, and find somewhere to sit where you won't be distracted.

     With the first paper, make a list of the things you need before you start running.

     Example List:

  • Running shoes
  • Water bottle (very important to stay hydtrated)
  • Running clothes
  • Ipod/MP3 player (optional)
  • Places to run
     Use the second piece of paper to list your running goals. Having a goal to reach is a magnificant way to stay motivated.

     Example of Goals:
  • Run  a mile in 9 minutes
  • Run 5 miles
  • Run a Half Marathon
     Use the third paper  to write out a basic outline of your weekly schedule so that you can figure out when and how long you can run.

Part Two: Warming Up

     Stretching/warming up your muscles before and after a run will dictate how well you present and future runs will be. If you don't warm up before your run you risk injuries. If you don't stretch out and slowly cool down your muscles after a run, lactic acid build up can make your legs stiff and sore which can inhibit you from running for a couple of days. 

     It doesn't take all that much time to warm up for a run. All you really need is approximatly 5 minutes leg stretches and a couple minutes of fast paced walking should do the trick. For some ideas and examples of good leg stretches visit this site:

Part Three: Breathing 
     It is very important to know how to breathe correctly during a run. People who start running for the first time often experience severe diffuiculty in maintaining there running speed because their improper breathing technique. It isn't complicated and once you know how you are supposed to breathe you will see a great improvement in the ease of you your work out.

     Every second that goes by our bodies are burning energy that leaves behind a carbon dioxide residue in our cells. Our body needs to get rid of the carbon dioxide in our cells and replenish the cells oxygen supply. How is this done? It is done by breathing. When we inhale air into our lungs, the oxygen goes into the depleted cells as the cells release the CO2 into the lungs to be expelled when we exhale.

     When you are running you are burning more energy faster than usual and your body compensates by inreasing your heart rate to pump more oxygenated blood cells into the muscles you're using. The body can't do this though without more oxygen, so your need to breathe while running comes more frequently than when you are walking our resting. 

     If you are unable to provide your body with enought of the oxygen it needs to support your energy requirements you will have to stop running or risk passing out. When you are running you feel the urge to start breathing faster to keep up with your bodies demand for oxygen. However, breathing shallow quick breathes will only cause you distress because shallow breathes won't provide your body with enough oxygen. Taking deep and even breathes is what you want. This might seem difficult to do at first, but is you concentrate on your breathing while your running and maintaining a stable breathing pattern - in. . . and out, in . . . and out, in . .  and out - it will eventually become second nature to you and running will become much easier.

Part Four: Building Stamina

     How far, fast, and how long you run is based upon your level of fitness. The primary muscles used in running are the hip, hamstring, quadriceps (thigh), gluteus maximus (butt), and the calf. The more developed the primary muscles are, the longer the distance they can support. However, the air capacity of you lungs (the maximum amount of air that the lungs can take in when you inhale) also determines how long you can give your leg muscles the oxygen it needs to keep going for any given amount of time.

     The key to running longer and faster is to build stamina. As a beginner your main focus is to build running stamina. On your first run should be used to evaluate your current leg and lung fitness level.

     After warming up start walking as quickly as you can for about 5 to 10 minutes before breaking out into a mildly paced run. Time yourself to see how long you can maintain your pace before you have to drop back into a brisk walk. Keep walking until you've caught your breathe and begin running once again. Keep this walking and running routine up for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the amount of time you have alotted yourself to work out) before stopping.

     After your first run take note of how long your were able to maintain a mild running pace (e.g. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, ect.). This is your starting point from which you will work to improve every week. Try to improve your running time by 1 to 2 minutes every week.

     Remember, the longer you run, the more developed your leg muscles and the better you lung capacity will become. Practice, perseverance, and and upbeat attitutude can aslo be of great use to you when building your stamina. :-)

To Be Continued. . .

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