It’s National Nutrition Month and the theme this year is “nutrition from the ground up”. I’m offering advice how you can set build a healthy weight from the ground up – without getting duped by any costly “solutions” you’ve seen before. We started out with setting realistic goals and now we’re going to focus on exercise, specifically running. If running is not your thing, consider trail running/hiking, jogging, walking (or my favorite wogging – jog/walk intervals).
I’ve been writing recently about how to start a running program. My first race was a 5K and at that time, I had no idea I would ever get into running and complete a 50 miler. Read my previous post about getting started before moving on to this section about kicking it up a notch.
OK, so you decided to start running, you got your shoes and watch, you set realistic goals, and you’ve started “wogging” (that’s a jog/walk combo). By now, you’ve gone out a few times and maybe you’re even jogging more than walking. It’s time to get a little more serious (just a little).
Track Your Progress
- Keep a running journal. The proof is in the pudding, right? By documenting your workouts you will get to see how far you’ve come and whether it is time to ease up a bit or take it to the next level. You can buy running journals or just simply record in a composition notebook. Include the date, length of run, mileage if you know it, pace, and any thoughts or feelings you had. Review your log weekly. If you see lots of “tired, sore, and low energy” comments maybe you’re pushing yourself too hard. If you see encouraging comments like “felt great, had fun, and easy” then maybe it’s time to see what else you can do. Try a hilly route, pick up your pace, or stay out 10 to 15 minutes longer.
- Find interesting routes. Part of running is staying interested and that means having variety in your workouts. School tracks can be simple and safe places for getting started. Do a lap of walking up the stairs when you feel ready. You can also alternate a jogging lap with a lap of faster pace running and even later sprint work. Trails also make fun runs. The terrain is easy on your body and you naturally go at a slower pace, which is perfect for beginners who need to hold back. Check out MapMyRun to find a route in your neighborhood or create your own, or check-out our list of the best places to run.
Gently Increase Mileage
After the first couple of months, your body has begun adapting to the running and it is time to increase your mileage if you want to. Don’t overdo it. I recommend to make one of your runs a “long run.” Bump up the mileage by 1-2 miles per week for a month, then hold it there for a few weeks. If you feel ready to increase again, go for it! So if you now have a three mile base, you can go up to 4-5 miles week one, 5-6 miles week two, 6-7 miles week three, and 7-8 miles week four! Before you know it, you went from 3 miles to 8 miles in one month. Be sure to take walk breaks as needed on those long runs.
Remember that running is about having fun. Stay comfortable and safe out there. I hope to see you in a race in 2010!