Walking/Running for Beginners

Most people believe running is an “either/or” activity. You’re either a runner or you’re not. Despite the simplicity of the activity, many just don’t feel comfortable pursuing it. While running may feel difficult at the outset, almost everyone is capable of some form of brisk movement. The challenge, especially for beginners, is finding the right balance between too much and too little. Too much and you end up sore, tired and unmotivated. Too little and the potential gains are limited.

When should you walk/run? Some people walk or run early in the morning to energize themselves for the day. Others run or walk in the evening to unwind after work. Some use a work day lunch hour as “recess” to get a walk or run in. The best time is the time that you enjoy most.

Where should you walk/run? Streets and sidewalks are okay but beware of traffic and heed the rules of the road. Trails, such as our rail trail or bush trails, are an excellent venue as they are softer and more forgiving on the joints than pavement.

Equipment: Comfortable, breathable clothing and a good pair of running shoes.

Benefits: Reduced risk of heart disease, improved bone density, increased caloric expenditure, decreased blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of diabetes.

The first time you plan to run consider beginning with a walk. Walk briskly for 8-10 minutes prior to running especially if you are new to running. The purpose of the warm-up is to prepare your joints and muscles, specifically the heart muscle, for the increased effort. Alternate walking and running for a total of 20-30 minutes. This will help prevent next day muscle soreness and decrease your risk of injuries. For best results repeat this workout three times each week. Walking can be done daily but it’s best to put a recovery day in between runs. Gradually increase your running time as you gradually reduce the walking portion. Eventually you will be running the entire time. Then you can work on gradually increasing your distance or speed.

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If running isn’t your thing, try speed walking. Speed walk for 30 seconds, then a more comfortable pace for 3 minutes. Alternate between the two for the duration of your route. Choosing a route with hills will increase the intensity if you are looking for a challenge but don’t want to run. Your fitness level will improve the more you participate in this style of training. Enjoy a fitness walk or run just for the health of it!

 

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