Running (cont.)

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What type of clothing should be worn during running?

Running shorts

Shorts don't need to be complicated. The most important features are the fabric. It should be fast-wicking polyester to keep you dry. Some shorts have pockets to stash your keys or some money, and many have a drawstring to keep them from falling off when you run! Expect to pay $25 to $60 dollars for quality running shorts.

Leggings

Leggings are good for when it's chilly. They come in tights that fit snugly that are made of polyester (spandex or Lycra), or they can fit looser and softer with combinations of polypropylene and other fabrics to make them feel almost like cotton. Select whichever feels most comfortable to you. All of these fabrics will keep you dry and warm. Expect to pay $75 to $125 for quality leggings.

Shirts

Select a tank top or T-shirt depending on what feels most comfortable. Again, the fabric should be fast-wicking polyester to keep you dry.

How do I go about getting started?

Programs for running

The simple thing to do is get out there and jog or run for five to 10 minutes. Pace yourself, slow down if you get out of breath, and keep moving. I like a five-minute out, five-minute back plan. From your starting point, jog five minutes, turn around, and jog back five minutes. Done! Of course, not everyone can jog for 10 minutes to start, and that's okay. Try an informal interval-training method as a way to get started if jogging straight for 10 minutes is beyond your ability. Keep in mind that the most important thing is just to get started. You can always add more later on. Here's an interval plan that will get you started.

  1. Select the amount of time that you plan to jog/run for, let's say, 30 minutes.
  2. Start with a five-minute brisk walk to warm up.
  3. When you feel ready, start to jog. If you get out of breath, slow down and keep jogging, or walk again until you catch your breath. This could take one to two minutes.
  4. Once you've caught your breath, go ahead and jog again until you feel you've had enough. At that point, walk again.
  5. Repeat this series of walking/jogging intervals for 30 minutes, or whatever duration you select.

If you stick with this method, you'll find over time that you can increase the jogging intervals and decrease the walking intervals until you can jog for the entire 30 minutes.

Formal training schedules

If you prefer a more formal training program, you can organize your workout into specific intervals or ratios of work to active recovery (for example, work: active recovery). For instance, if you can jog for 30 minutes at 5.5 mph, try jogging for three minutes at that speed, then increase the speed to 6.0 mph and jog for one minute, then jog again for three minutes at your normal speed, then jog again at 6.0 mph for one minute, and so on until you reach your time limit. The work: active-recovery ratio in this example is 1:3. You can increase the work portion each week by 30 seconds and decrease the active-recovery time by 30 seconds, and if you follow that plan weekly, you will be jogging your whole workout at the faster speed before you know it! You can get even more specific and use your heart rate to determine your intervals. Heart rate is an excellent indication of how hard you are working. For example, if your heart rate at 5.5 mph is 70% of your predicted maximum, then start at that speed and increase either the speed, and/or elevation if you're on a treadmill, so that your heart rate increases to 85% for one minute, then back to your jogging speed that causes your heart to be at 70% of maximum for three minutes (1:3 ratio like the example above). Over time your conditioning will improve and then your heart rate will be lower at the higher speeds and you can spend more time at the higher speeds and less time in the active rest period. You can always vary the ratios if they turn out to be too hard or too easy. A good starting ratio is 1:3. Check the resources at the end of this article for additional training plans.

Stretching

Although, as I mentioned, there is no persuasive research to show that stretching will prevent injuries, it does feel good, and that may be reason enough to stretch. Go ahead and stretch your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and low back, before and after your runs, and see what you think.

Where to run

The good news is that you can run just about anywhere. Find a track or a trail in the woods or a route on the street near where you live. Running in another city when you're traveling is a great way to see new sites and check out your environment. You can also call the local running club in the location you're traveling to for tips on scenic places to run. You might also consider joining your own local running club. The camaraderie of running with others is nice; it can be fun, motivating, and can help you stick with it if you're struggling a bit. It's also good to be a club member if you're looking for a training partner.

Road races

You might be interested in running in organized races. If so, check with your local running club for a race schedule near where you live. Road races are a great way to stay motivated, monitor your progress, and collect cool T-shirts as a trophy for your success! Road races come in many distances. There are 3.2 mile (a "5K" where K means kilometer), 5.0 mile, and 6.2 mile races (10K),as well as half marathons (13.1 miles) and marathons (26.2 miles). Most beginners should start with shorter races to get the feel of it and then tackle the longer ones.

How fast do I run?

You can determine your pace per mile by using a "pace calculator." Many Web sites have them. Check the resources at the end of this article for links.

The finish line

So there you have it; the low-down on running. I recommend giving it a try if you have any interest. Start slowly, just a few minutes if that's all you can do. You can always build up over time. The important thing is just to get started. In the words of the immortal Bruce Springsteen, "Baby we were born to run!"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2014

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