Walk Before You Can Run
Walk, then run
Walking is a great way to start getting fit.
It is load bearing – in other words your body carries it’s own weight – which means you burn more calories than in non-weight bearing forms of exercise, and it means it is good for strengthening your muscles and even bones. But it does not have the higher impact forces involved in other forms of exercise such as running.
If you start to go out running to suddenly these forces can lead to muscle soreness or even injury. But running means you cover more distance in any given time which increases the calories you burn each minute. Running also places an extra load on your muscles and cardiovascular system so if it is introduced sensible your tone up more and your fitness level gets an extra boost.
Having built up to walking various distances three times a week you can look to include short stints of running into one of your shorter walks each week. Don’t panic! This is to be done bit-by-bit. For example starting with your 15min of fast walking. Introduce just 30sec of slow jogging every 5min. Always start and finish with walking so put the 30sec in the middle of each 5min. You may need to slow the pace of the walking between these three 30sec runs. That is fine. To begin with do not worry about how fast the running stints are. Start as slowly as you wish. Your pace will improve as you get fitter.
Once 30sec is manageable step up to 45sec in each 5min. Build-up in 15sec steps until you are up to 90sec in each 5min. Then switch to one minute of walking followed by a minute of running. Reaching this stage will not be a simple progression. You may find you take far longer to get used to one progression than others. You may seem ‘stuck’ at one level for a while and at other times your progress might seem quite quick. The key is to be patient and to listen to your body. It may be necessary to take a step back at some points. Don’t be afraid to do this. If you are ill don’t train. If you miss training through illness or other reasons take as long building back to where you were as you missed. So if you missed a week take a week to get back into it.
Once you are alternating a minute of walking with a minutes running you can start putting those 15sec jogging stints into another walk each week.
Gradually by lengthening the stints you are running for and shortening the walking breaks you will reach a point where you can run the whole of what was your 15min walk. You will probably find that to make it last 15min you have to go further. That means you are getting fitter and burning more calories each time you do it as you are covering more distance.
From here on you can gradually increase the distance of this run and gradually turn another walk into a run.
As you get fitter you will reap the advantages of being able to run further. Your muscles, including your heart and lungs, get stronger. You are also able to do more work in any given period of time. You may have started with a 20min walk. If you reach a stage when you can run for that 20min you may be covering twice the distance – you are doing more than twice the work without spending any longer exercising! But running that far in 20min when you started out with your exercise programme would have been impossible.
Don’t be afraid to walk before you can run. Don’t feel the need to batter your body into submission. Always work at a level you can sustain and then step it up once you become comfortable with this.
Some of this information features in our much larger article A Beginners Guide to Running. Please take the time to check that out as it is packed full of useful information.