Four tips for new runners or weekend warriors who want to start pounding the pavement.
Get started on running (Photo: maridav / www.123rf.com)
Afraid to start running again after the nightmarish mandatory 2.4KM test back in secondary school? Don’t be. We asked Andrew Cheong, a certified running coach from Road Runners Clubs of America (RRCA), for his tips for the new or infrequent runner.
1. How to start running again: Ease into running with small increments.
To start, don’t worry about the distance covered, speed or pace. Instead, focus on the time spent on your feet. Begin with a 20 to 30-minute session, alternating between running and walking. With each successive workout, try to do more running than walking. Do this twice a week and eventually build up to running without stops, three or four times a week.
2. How to start running again: Be realistic.
The long-term goal is to make a lifestyle change and form a healthy habit of running a few times a week. Be consistent and keep yourself motivated throughout the process (try listening to your favourite tunes). The short-term goal is avoid getting discouraged or injured.
3. How to start running again: Keep a conversation pace.
In other words, don’t run so fast that you are out of breath. Keep a brisk pace where you are breathing hard but still able to hold a conversation.
Running at conversation pace is key to building a strong aerobic base. By running slower and longer, you are actually training your body to burn more fat. Another benefit is that your heart will get stronger and be able to pump more blood per beat.
4. How to start running again: “No more than 10 per cent” rule.
Every week, challenge yourself by running longer but add no more than 10 per cent more (of your total time) to your runs: If week one was spent doing three 30-minute sessions of running/walking, add 3 mins to each session in week two. Keep adding until you can run for 60 minutes without stopping to build up your endurance.
But remember, if you feel any pain in the joints or tendons, ease up on your training – or even stop for some time to rest. Your body, muscles and joints need time to adapt if you have not been running, and you might sustain injuries such as these common ones in runners. See a sports doctor or physiotherapist if your discomfort persists for more than a month.
An experienced runner, Andrew Cheong has taken part in more than 30 endurance races locally and overseas, including the Boston Marathon and various Ironman races.