So, you finally pulled the trigger and decided to begin a running regimen? Maybe you have looked at a couple articles online about proper running form or purchased your first pair of running shoes? Either way, congrats on making the big leap!
A client recently emailed me a few days ago and was the inspiration for this article. She asked:
This question made me realize how confusing it can be when you’re just starting out. You’ve bought the shoes, picked your bumping playlist, but now what? Some friends or family might say that you should start with a “Couch to 5k” program, and some say to go out and run (insert minutes here) per day.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of people whom have the same question, and the honest answer is that it completely depends on your body, and how well it is able to adapt to the new form of movement. While some who are already living a pretty active lifestyle can start off running 5-6 times per week without any adverse effects, others who lead a more sedentary lifestyle may not be able to adapt as quickly. This article will be applied to those who are just beginning the journey into the realm of fitness.
So how often should I run?
To answer the question of how often and for what duration to run on a weekly basis, starting with a light jog or a “walk to run” 2-3 times per week with a day or two of rest in between is a great to allow your knees, hips, ankles, feet, as well as your muscles, to adapt to the new form of movements. When I say "adapting" I'm referring to when you run for "X" amount of time, you no longer get hip, ankle, knee, or muscle soreness, or it may be very minimal after completing a moderately difficult run. Once again, some may adapt quicker, while others may take longer to adapt. It's important to listen to your body
I've adapted. Whats next?
Once your body learns to adapt and handle running 2-3 times per week with no soreness, gradually increase the amount of running to 4-5 times per week while still running at a light pace. This will allow your body to then adapt to the decreased rest period in between running days.
After that becomes easy, begin incorporating 1 or 2 hard intervals or tempo runs each week while keeping 3 or 4 of them on the lighter side. We recommend that after completing a longer or harder run, the following day should be a recovery jog, or a lighter interval run.
What should I do on my rest days?
Stretching during any fitness regimen, whether running or strength training helps speed along recovery, prevent soreness, and increases mobility. Some recommended stretches to help recover those muscles are:
- Quadricep stretch
- Hamstring stretch
- Calf stretch
Some other great stretches you could do for the lower body are:
- Groin stretch
- Hip flexor stretches
- IT band Stretch
It is also a good idea to stretch out the upper body, and core before and after any fitness regimen. holding each one of these poses for 10-15 seconds before a run, and 20-30 seconds after a run may help loosen up tight muscles before a run, and aid in recovery following a run.
Running is an amazing form of exercise that can be very rewarding once you get into the swing of things, but don’t get discouraged! Every runner starts with their first few steps, and if you stick to it, the results will pay off.