By Troy L. Ford
The running season is here and Beverly Shores, Indiana will hold 9th annual Necktie 5K Walk & Run on Saturday, June 18 (Father’s Day Weekend) at 8 AM. This is the first of two articles to help prepare you for the event. The 5K Walk & Run is a great way to celebrate Dad and to welcome the summer season.
Running is a simple sport. You need no special equipment (other than a good pair of shoes), and you can run almost anywhere. Unlike most sports, you don’t have to be an expert to participate. Even though running is simple, unless you are already physically active in a sport or fitness program, do not jump feet-first into running. The first step to getting started in any fitness program (after getting a physical exam from your physician) is walking.
Below are five simple steps that will help you train for the Necktie 5K:
Try walking for at least one full week. Begin with 20 minutes for the first four days with your goal to reach 30 minutes by the end of the week. Once you can walk 30 minutes comfortably, you can begin adding in brief periods or intervals of slow jogging. I’m talking 30 seconds up to a few minutes. Don’t over do it!
Do not try sprinting or running fast. Many beginning runners make the mistake of trying to run too much, too soon, and too fast. You are not trying out for a track team. You should run slow enough that you could talk comfortably (even though you may not fell like it). If you can’t carry on a conversation because you’re gasping for breath, you are going to fast. For those interested in competitively racing, you can slowly add speed after you’ve built a solid foundation of running. Don’t worry, you can’t run too slow starting out, but you can go too fast. Going slower will ensure your body becomes more efficient, allowing you to take in more oxygen and expel more carbon dioxide. Your stamina and lung capacity will increase but you’ve got to begin slowly. Going too fast will leave you out of breath, and your leg muscles will scream for mercy. You’ll hit the fatigue wall too soon, you won’t want to run again for a week (or longer) and you’ll never increase stamina or lung capacity. This should be enjoyable! If you do it right, it can be. You’ve heard of the runner’s high, right?
Combine Regular Intervals of Walking & Running
Most running books recommend a walk/run program for beginners. Whether you walk four minutes and run two or walk two minutes and run one, the concept is the same. Start out walking and then follow with a shorter period of slow running. Try several cycles of this until you reach 20 minutes. Remember the talk test! If you get too winded, slow down until you catch your breath. Then try the run again when ready. Training is a science. Keeping it simple is the key. If you feel you are working too hard, you are. Gradual progressions in time and intensity are the best rules to follow.
After you feel comfortable with 20 minutes, you can increase to 30 minutes. For your first month, however, do not go beyond 30 minutes or three miles. Although you may be able to do more, your goal is to develop consistency while getting in shape.
Get into a Routine
When you first start out, do your run/walk workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Then rest or do an easy walk on the other three days. Find an easy place to begin your training. A trail or a road less travel by cars is best. Leave running on the beach until later in the program.
Warm-Up First \ Stretch After
No matter where you are in your running program, never forget to warm up. A great warm-up should consist of at least a ten-minute walk. This s done to warm up all the working muscles and prepare the body for the increased oxygen demand. Unlike cars, bodies don’t go from 0 to 100 MPH in 6 seconds. The warm-up should also include some light calisthenics. Save the serious static stretching for after the workout when the muscles are more pliable. Spend a good 10-15 minutes after your run stretching out, so you are ready for your next bout. Your body will thank you by readying itself to do it again. You’ll also limit your risk for injuries.
Find a Friend
You may find it easier to commit to a running program if you can find someone else to work out with you. You will help keep each other motivated and you will be less likely to skip runs. Don’t allow your low fitness level, inexperience, lack of time, fatigue, or fear of failure stop you. Now is the time!
Yes, you have so much to consider when beginning a running program. If you have your goal clearly in mind and you are committed, you will succeed!
Troy L. Ford is the owner of TroyBuilt Fitness and Official Trainer for the Necktie 5K, visit the Necktie 5K website at www.necktierun.com.