From the Couch to InTraining

Can I do it?
Am I too old, short, tall, heavy, skinny? YES, you can do it! The Vancouver Sun Run has over 55,000 participants, which makes it a true testimony to the fact that almost anyone, regardless of their shape, size or age, can learn to walk or run a 10K comfortably and safely.

1. Be patient
The temptation is always to do too much, too fast and too soon…Walking and running are stressful activities on your body because there is impact with each step.  The body needs time to adjust to the impact of walking or running.  Blasting out the door for your first run in four years isn’t the best approach to achieve an improved level of fitness.  Instead, find a well-thought out, gradual and progressive program.  If at first it seems too easy, that’s good.  You should always feel as if you could have done more.

2.  Commitment
Make a personal decision to stick to the program, which means you’ll need to find the time to workout 3 times per week, for approximately 1 hour.  Use your daytimer to pencil in your scheduled workout, or on your calendar, the same way you would for any other important appointment. Make exercise a priority just like work and family obligations – it will increase your commitment to your fitness goal.

3.  Buy yourself a good pair of shoes
This is very important.  Make sure you have a good pair of shoes that properly fit your foot type and walking or running gait.  This will require a visit to your local specialty running/walking store. You’ll need to spend about 30-45 minutes to have a staff member find a shoe to fit your needs. 

4.  What about clothing?   
Dress comfortably in athletic clothing.  There are lots of great technical fabrics that wick moisture away from your body, which are comfortable and make you feel great.  But, you don’t NEED to splurge on high-end technical clothes.  It’s the shoes that are mandatory.

5. Keep a logbook
Use your kitchen calendar, daytimer, or if you’ve joined an InTraining clinic, The Beginning Runners’Journal.  Jot down your workouts and include a description of how you felt, and anything in your life that might have affected your workout.  Refer to your logbook often.  It will help you to stay motivated, track aches and pains, and it is a great way to monitor your progress.

6.  Slow down
It’s my experience that most people tend to push themselves too hard.  Whether you are walking or learning to run, you should always be able to carry on a conversation with a friend.  In the beginning, if you’re learning to run, I prefer the word “shuffle” to jog or run because at this point in your training you should feel as though you could walk as fast as you jog. 

7.  Warm up and Cool down
Be sure to begin each training session with an easy slower-paced warm-up and some dynamic stretches to increase your circulation.  It’s equally important to finish with a slower-paced cool-down followed by some relaxed static stretches to help prevent injury.

8. Find a buddy
You need support.  Once and awhile, it can be motivating and fun to do your workout with a friend, group or a canine.  But make sure that friend likes to move at about the same pace you do.

9. Vary the places you choose to walk or run
Be creative!  We tend to be creatures of habit, choosing the same routes each time.  Find the quiet streets, beautiful parks and soft trails in your neighbourhood.  Varied terrain will prevent injury as you alter the angles at which your limbs absorb impact.  Exercising on softer surfaces is easier body and the variety will help to keep things interesting.

10. Use your arms
Walking and running are the most natural things we do, and your personal technique will improve as you become stronger.  Working on core strength will help as well.  Generally, try to be tall, shoulders square, hold your stomach muscles strong, with all your movement in a forward direction.  With walking you’ll have a strong heel-toe action.  If you’re learning to run, your shuffle will place the weight more towards the mid-foot.  But remember to use your arms:  They dictate your pace.  If you consciously think about pumping your arms, your legs will follow.

One last thing:  Take care of yourself

  • Consciously drink lots of water throughout the day.
  • Eat balanced healthy regular meals every day.
  • Get your rest. — you’ll feel so much better…
  • Be kind to yourself:  If you’re feeling tired, or under-the-weather for whatever reason, choose a different workout day, or decrease your planned workout.  Remember, you’re going to have some small aches and pains as your body adjusts to a new level of activity, but hopefully you’ll be able to work through them. 

You’re making a great lifestyle change.  Be proud of yourself!  

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