Q: I want to start running but if feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. How do I get started?

A: Let’s begin with a standard disclaimer: “Before starting any fitness program, get checked out by your healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss any issues or symptoms you have that concern you.” Then, if you’re fit enough to walk for 20 or 30 minutes, you should be able to begin a running program.

frequently asked questions

Step 1: Start walking. Start out by walking just 3 times the first week, and four times the second. The first week, you only need to do 20-25 minutes. Increase to 25-30 minutes the second week. After this, you can graduate to the next step, or if you’d like to stay in this step for a week or two longer, that’s OK. If you stay longer, walk 4 times the third week, 30-35 minutes each time. The fourth week, stay at 4 times, but increase to 35-40 minutes.

Step 2: Start run/walking. Do this step very gradually adding a little more distance each time. For this step, you’ll continue to exercise 4 times a week. You want to warm up by walking for 10 minutes. Then do a very, very easy run/walk routine: jog lightly for 1 minute (or 30 seconds if that seems too hard), then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these intervals for 10-15 minutes, then do a 10-minute walking cool down. You can do this step for two weeks, or longer if you like.

Step 3: Lengthen the running. Once you’re comfortable running for a minute at a time, for several intervals each time you exercise, you’re ready to start running a little longer. Continue to exercise 4 times per week. Increase your running to 1 minute 30 seconds, with an equal walking (1:30 running, 1:30 walking) for 15 minutes. Do this a couple times or more, then increase running to two minutes, with walking for 1 minute. Do this a few times or more, then increase to running 2:30, walking 30 seconds to a minute. If any of these increases feels too hard, feel free to go back a step until you’re comfortable increasing. Don’t rush it. You should stay in this step for 2-3 weeks or more.

Step 4: Follow the Rule of 9. Once you start Step 3 above, you’re basically running with short walk breaks. This can seem difficult, but it’ll get easier. Commit to doing 9 running workouts in Step 3. The first 9 running workouts can be difficult, but after that, it almost always gets better and more enjoyable. Don’t quit before the 9 running workouts! After the 9, try running with only infrequent walk breaks.

Step 5: Take your running to new levels. First of all, celebrate! You’re now a runner. You might be walking a little during your runs, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Eventually you probably won’t need the walk breaks, but no need to rush.

Let’s Get Running In 5 Simple Steps

Tips to push yourself to the next level:

Q: It seems like everyone else knows what they are doing and I feel so out of place. Will this feeling ever go away?

A: Trying anything new and putting yourself out there is scary and it comes with self-doubt and uncertainty. If you are dedicated to a fitness routine, eating healthy and remain consistent you are improving and you should be proud of your efforts. That being said, here are a few tips to help round out your workouts.

  • Gradually increase your running until you can do 30-40 minutes of running at a time, 4 days a week. Do this increase gradually, as you should be mostly running for 15 minutes at a time by the end of Step 4 … just increase by 5 minutes each week.
  • Sign up for a 5K. If you can run for 30-40 minutes, you can complete a 5K. Sign up for one (there are races almost every weekend in many places) and participate with the idea of just finishing. Have fun doing it!
  • Once you have increased your running to 30-40 minutes at a time, designate one run a week as your “long run”. Try to increase this by 5 minutes each week, until you can do an hour or more. This is your endurance run, and it is a key to most running programs.
  • Once you’ve got endurance, you can add some hills to your program. Add hills gradually, by finding a more hilly course, and eventually adding hill repeats — run (kind of) hard up the hill, then easy down the hill, and do 3-5 repeats.
  • After hills, do a little speed workout once a week. Do intervals of a couple of minutes of medium-hard running, with a couple minutes of easy running. Make these speed workouts shorter than your normal runs — if you run for 40 minutes, do 25-30 minutes for your speed workouts. Be sure to warm up and cool down with easy running for 10 minutes.
  • Tempo runs are good workouts when you’re ready. That means a 10 minute warmup, then 20 minutes or so of running somewhere between your 10K and half-marathon pace. That means going the pace you think you can race for an hour, but only doing it for 20-30 minutes.
  • Run with a group, or run alone. Don’t always run alone or with a partner. Mix things up.
  • Find new routes. Don’t always run the same routes. Try running on a track, in a different neighborhood, on a treadmill, on trails.
  • After you’ve done a few 5Ks, sign up for a 10K. Then a half marathon. Then a marathon. But do one step at a time.

Q: I sent a request to join your private Facebook group and it has not been accepted. What's up with that?

A: Thank you for sending us a join request.

There are several reasons a request is not accepted. First and foremost, we are very conscious about the safety of the group members and our run activity. Group members have had issues with stalker activity so a vetting process is necessary. In addition to a scan of the requester's personal social media profile, there is a set of three questions asked upon requesting to join. If there is no response, or a standard non-committed response, no evidence of run type activity on the social media profile, or the requester is related to or friends with the aforementioned stalker then the join request is declined. 

Q: I just discovered that "runners trots" are a real thing. Why does my GI tract act up when I'm running?

A: Some people get headaches when they're stressed. Runners get the trots. At least 45 percent of runners have experienced some gastro-related issue during their run. "The GI tract is very sensitive to stress, and running, or the anticipation before a race, is definitely stressful. 
When you run, your intestines take a double hit: The motion jostles their contents and speeds things along. Plus, blood, essential for your tract to stay on track, is rerouted to vital organs and muscles in your lower half, disrupting the sensitive balance your body has for fluid absorption and possibly causing dehydration, which can lead to cramps that force you to beeline for the bathroom.  The Fix? It is recommended putting the ix-nay on bathroom-inducing high-fiber and high-fat foods 24 hours before a race or long run, and fueling up on benign, already-tested, plain meals. That's our fancy way of saying it's all about "trial & error".

Q: I just experienced my first taper week. Why did I get so antsy?

A: That two-week-ish span where you cut back training volume by about 50 percent gives you time to recover and to become mentally and physically stronger. You probably haven't felt well-rested in weeks. As a Runner in training we typically aren't used to having all that energy.  Our body has gotten accustomed to fatigue as a 'normal' state. Our 
mind is probably on overdrive, too, thinking about race day. A fresh body, coupled with nerves and excitement, can drive you and those around you crazy. The Fix? Take 10 minutes to visualize the race, and then try not to think about it for the rest of the day. See a movie; read a book; grab a beer with a non-running friend; do some gentle exercise if you must. A favorite of ours is to take a walk to knock the edge off.

Q: My running buddy has started running with another partner. They plan meet ups and don't tell me and even go to races together. How should I address it? My feelings are really hurt.

A: Stop the drama mama! Your run activity is your sanctuary, your solace and most of all your happy place. Sure, you might fear lack of motivation going at it alone or maybe even feel left out. Don't think of it as a loss, think of it as an opportunity. Mix up your run routine, find new routes, find new races. Whatever you do don't let someone else's behavior impact your workout.

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