You’ve wanted to start a regimen of running or training for marathons for a while. If you’re hesitating because you think you need some special knowledge, US Marine’s discipline, or tons of free time – think again. It’s easy to come up with a plan for running as exercise. The key is to take baby steps once you’ve decided to “get off the couch.”
1. First steps
Just put on your running sneakers and get out there! Start wherever you are. The #1 mistake of all new runners is to get excited and take on too much, too fast. Running too far or too hard during the beginning of your training can leave you feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. If you are starting off extremely out-of-shape or overweight, you might want to contemplate starting with a walking program. Develop a plan of four weeks of walking 30 to 45 minutes 3X a week, and build from that. You could alternatively start with a run/walk program.
Envision each 30-minute workout as a sandwich with 20 minutes of running in the middle and a warm-up and cool-down as the bread. Run until you are breathing heavily and then walk until it calms down. Repeat. This will keep you exercising at your own personal limit for that day, and help you avoid over-exhaustion afterwards. Remember: the best kind of workout is one that you enjoyed!
2. Adjusted nutrition
As with the running itself, focused nutrition, as part of a running for weight loss regimen, should be approached with baby steps, otherwise you could crash and burn. The more slow and steady a nutrition transition, the more you’ll be able to adapt and stick with new changes.
You could start by tracking what you eat for a couple of weeks. (apps: FitDay, MyFitnessPal and FitBit.) It’s helpful for many runners to see exactly how many calories, fat, proteins and carbohydrates they’re consuming and from which foods. This kind of awareness helps you pass on that extra piece of chocolate, late at night.
3. Pre & post nutrition
A basic 30-minute run doesn’t require special eating before or afterward. However, if you want to optimize your energy levels, you could eat a high protein/carbohydrate snack within 30 minutes of finishing a run. Think: celery sticks and little bit of peanut butter, or maybe almonds and a piece of fruit.
4. Ask a pro
You definitely do not have to go out and buy the trendiest, most expensive new running shoes on the market. Talk to a sales person at a sporting goods store – they should be able to direct you to a shoe that fits your budget. Alternatively, check what runners are raving about on personal blogs.
5. When to race
Before you attempt any race or marathon, you should put in at least 2-3 months of training. Once you can run continuously in 30 minute intervals, you can sign up for a 5K.
6. Why run a marathon?
A marathon is a great way to judge yourself based on a standard of performance, and can be amazing for your motivation and satisfaction. The feeling of training for a big day brings extra meaning and power to your workouts. Marathon training is also a great way to track progress: during your first workout, you might have run a mile and a half in 30 minutes. And now you can do a 5K in 30 or 35 minutes.
7. Mix it up
Keep your routine varied to avoid getting bored. You could run some days and then try a Zumba or cycling class. Also, listen to your body when you train. you should never feel the need to put your body in extreme pain.