There are old runners and there are new runners, and the thing that all runners have in common… is injuries. No matter how you look at it running is hard on the body. 50% of runners have knee injuries according to the www.RunningInjuryClinic.com.
These have to do with a number of issues:
- Not building-up the running routine properly. Starting off too fast and going for too long.
- Not having a proper running form.
- Not having the proper shoes.
The problem with running is the impact. Without the proper training, it can do more harm than good. If you want to start a running program you need to help your body learn to accommodate to this new motion- especially if you have had injuries before.
I like the idea of programs like C25K (Couch to 5 K), but in my opinion they are still too fast. A running routine should be built very very slowly. Slower than you think. You might desire to go harder or even be able to go faster, but allowing your joints and muscles to acclimate to the intensive work running requires, will give you the results you really want.
Here is a simple progression I came up with to ease yourself into running. It’s a simple formula. Each week you add a minute of running at take away a minute of walking. Totaling in 30 min of exercise. Practice running 2-3 days a week, with days of in between and other forms of exercise sprinkled in.
WEEK 1: Run 1 min walk 9 min (X2)
WEEK 2: Run 2 min walk 8 min (X2)
WEEK 3: Run 3 min walk 7 min (X2)
WEEK 4: Run 4 min, walk 6 min (X2)
WEEK 5: Run 5 min walk 5 min (X2)
WEEK 6: Run 6 min Wald 4 min (X2)
WEEK 7: Run 7 min walk 3 min (X2)
WEEK 8: Run 8 min walk 2 min (X2)
WEEK 9: Run 9 min walk 1 min (X2)
WEEK 10: Run 30 min!
*If you already have a regular aerobic exercise 3-5 x week you can progress by 2 min increments rather than 1min.
Eve Chenu is an athletic trainer and an Aston-Patterning practitioner. I was talking to her about what she would recommend for new runners or older runners returning to the sport. She gave these great tips for why a slower routine is best. She says, she see a lot of people getting injured within 3 to 6 months of starting their running program. However, by being very conservative one can avoid injuries and build the joint support necessary for long-term running enjoyment. This is what she recommends:
- Run no more than 2 or 3 times per week.
- Always take a day off running in between running days (you can / should do other activities on those days such as cycling, swimming, yoga, weights, etc.)
- Walk for the greater part of your workout (30+ minutes), and do your running in short intervals (30 seconds to 2 minutes) within your walk.
- For the first two to three weeks, run no more than a total of 5 minutes (broken up into several intervals) and walk the rest of the time.
- Over the following two to three weeks, go up to 10 minutes of total running in a 30 min work out. As long as there is no discomfort whatsoever.
- Continue to add a few minutes every few weeks, never making any sudden large increases.
- If you notice minor discomfort anywhere in your body (feet, back, etc), take a day or two off and return to an easier version of the workout. Do this even when the discomfort is minor. Don’t wait until it is a real injury!!!
- Stretch after running and walking (calves, quads, hamstrings, hips, low back)
- First and foremost, work with your Aston practitioner to make sure your running form and shoes are right for you. Get bodywork to release any accumulated tension.
At this point you can increase as gradually as tolerated , remember you need to listen to your body! Pain means STOP, you are causing injury! See your doctor or PT.
That being said running is a great, cheap and healthy exercise if done correctly.