Awhile back, there was a comment from a reader that was looking to take up running. With the Chicago Marathon this past weekend and the person that taught me how to run completing it, I figured those were two good reasons to tell you how I learned to run.
I learned to run through the San Francisco Aids Marathon Training Program. The program used a combination of running and walking in order to teach people to complete a Marathon. The pace that I started at was a 4 to 1 interval. Running for 4 minutes, then walking for 1 and doing this over the course of a desired distance. And that was the basics of how I started learn to complete a marathon. Sorry, but that is it. No secret formula or special training juice to drink. Just running and a little bit of walking. Sure there is a lot more that goes in to completing marathons, but those are the basics. I'm still learning tips and proper running strategies today, but simply running for 4 minutes then taking a walk break for 1 and doing it over and over is how it all began for me. Gradually, through the program, we increased our mileage from 3 miles to 24 over a period of six months and we learned the rest as we went along from fellow runners and our awesome team of coaches.
For those of you looking to start running or a different way of approaching your running style, perhaps this may be the way to go. It worked for me, but every runner is different and what works for one person, might not for another. But I'm hoping this may be a starting point that gets you out the door or back on that treadmill. Instead of thinking about running a certain distance your first time out (like a mile or 2), try running for a period of time. Start at a run for 20-30 minutes from your house and run out 10-15 minutes then turn around and run back. There is your 20-30 minutes. And instead of running for 30 minutes straight and being out of breath, take it out nice and slow at an easy pace so that you are not out of breath. If possible, go with a friend; you should both be running/jogging at a pace where you can hold a casual conversation without huffing and puffing. If you have a stop watch or digital watch, try starting at a 3:1 interval or something that feels comfortable for you. Maybe it is a 2:2 or a 1:2, no matter what, it is a start. If you don't have a stop watch or something that will keep the proper time, try using city blocks. Run for 2 blocks, walk for one. Songs on your iPod can also work, run for one song, walk for a song (songs are typically 3-4 minutes so keep that in mind).
After you find a pace that works best, try to lengthen your time out week by week. If you start with 20 min and run 2x a week, then once you feel comfortable enough, try going out for 30 min. once and see how it feels. Another option is to alter the time you spend running; bump up your running interval by 30 seconds or a minute. It is all about finding the right balance. After running for several months at a 4:1 pace, I found on shorter runs, I could run 5 minutes and still feel strong. I am constantly changing my intervals depending on how I feel and the distance in order to mix up my routine in order to get a different workout. Remember to listen to your body. If you can't run the full distance or time today, you can always try again the next day.
In the comments section below, feel free to share your running style or how you learned to run and give the readers other suggestions or techniques.