FROM WALKING TO RUNNING

FROM WALKING TO RUNNING
Easy Steps for Clients to Become Runners in a Matter of Weeks
Walking is the most popular physical activity among Ameri­cans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention. It’s also the easiest exercise to begin and maintain long-term.
For many, walking is a lifelong form of exercise, but for others, walking may become boring and physically unchalleng­ing. Transitioning from walking to running can provide a more interesting and intense exercise program.

FROM WALKING TO RUNNING  Easy Steps for Clients to Become Runners in a Matter of Weeks  Walking is the most popular physical activity among Ameri­cans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention. It’s also the easiest exercise to begin and maintain long-term.  For many, walking is a lifelong form of exercise, but for others, walking may become boring and physically unchalleng­ing. Transitioning from walking to running can provide a more interesting and intense exercise program.

One Foot Strike at a Time
Fitness magazines and websites frequently
publish strat­egies for beginning a running program. Suggested work­outs often instruct new runners to start with two minutes
of walking and alternate with two minutes of running for 30 minutes. However, for many walkers, running for two minutes straight isn’t easily achieved.
While interval training is the best way to increase intensity of a beginner’s work­out, starting with shorter intervals may be necessary for many walkers. “A first-time runner can start by jogging for a 60-second interval. If 60 seconds is too much, try 30 seconds,” advises Lisa Ostergaard, BS, an American College of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and experienced runner. “Continuing to alternate between walking and jogging until cardiovascular endurance improves, and the jogging gets easier.” Ostergaard has run nine marathons, including the Boston Marathon twice, 25 half-marathons, and numerous other races of varying distances.
Once you’re more comfortable with jog­ging, she suggests walking at a brisk pace for three minutes, then jogging for one minute, and repeating that interval several times. “Eventually, the jogging can turn into running by increasing pace,” she says.
Walkers who want to evolve into runners can continue increasing the length of run­ning intervals until they can run for 20 or more minutes straight. For some clients, a walking/running interval workout will add sufficient intensity and variety to their exer­cise program. However, some clients may want to eventually compete in running races. For them, workouts will need more structure and planning. For these clients, Ostergaard recom­mends the following:
Seek help from staff at a local gym or running shop to set up a training plan. Obtaining a perspective from experienced runners before running the first race provides training benefits and racing tips.
Focus training on the end distance of the race. Before race day, clients should run the exact race distance at least three times to prepare their body and mind for race day.
Use the Internet for training ideas and motivation. The program From Couch to 5k (www.c25k.com) provides a struc­tured program for going from beginning fitness level to running a 5k race. The program’s website includes detailed download­able instructions on how to transition from a sedentary “couch potato” to a 5k runner in nine weeks. The website even includes programs for those who prefer running indoors on treadmills and those who’d like to run with their dog.
Staying Motivated
While some clients are self-motivated, others require more coaxing and may be more successful with a running group. Many gyms and community centers organize running groups based on ability, intention, or both. Strictly recreational run­ners can meet at local parks, trails, or tracks for socializing and walking/running workouts. Those interested in racing can meet for workouts geared toward training for a specific race distance.
For instance, Team in Training (www.teamintraining.org) employs walking-to-running coaches for those interested in walking or running a half or full marathon to benefit the Leuke­mia & Lymphoma Society. Participants are motivated by group training and fund-raising to support patients serviced by the society. Having a group, or even just one running partner, can help maintain running training in less desirable weather condi­tions and amid busy schedules.
Gearing Up
When focusing on becoming a runner, clients may neglect other aspects of fitness. Proper warm-ups, cross-training, and stretching should be incorporated into a running program to prevent injury and improve overall running performance.
All walkers and runners should wear shoes appropriate for their foot and stride. Local running shops have staff or electronic equipment to evaluate foot strike and gait to assist in the selection of the best running shoes. Running clothes should be suitable for local weather conditions.
New runners are more susceptible to injuries due to unfa­miliarity with running impact and weather. Wearing the wrong shoes can result in stress fractures, shin splints, and foot and joint injuries. Inappropriate attire for the weather can cause overheating if overdressed and hypothermia, wind burn, or frostbite if underdressed. As distance increases, runners also should carry or have access to water to remain hydrated.
New runners also may be easily discouraged if they don’t progress as fast as they’d like in terms of distance or pace. “Remember the most important thing … even if you have to walk during your first race, you still finished. You set a goal for yourself, you trained, and you accomplished your goal,” Ostergaard says.
No matter what the final race time or distance may be, clients can take pride in their evolution from walker to runner. 
All fitness ___  FROM WALKING TO RUNNING
— Jennifer Van Pelt, MA, is a certified group fitness instructor and healthcare research analyst/consultant in the Reading, Pennsylvania, area.

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