Many people are embracing running as a form of exercise and stress relief during this period in time. Some are first timers, some are returning to the sport. In any case, It’s important to take one’s time when ramping up the distance in any running program. Most people would never show up to the gym on their first day and try a 500lb squat, right? The same is true for running (each step a person takes when they run is equivalent to at least 2.5 times their body weight in force!) So, utilizing a gradual transition into steady state running can be of great importance to help reduce the likelihood of injury, increase the likelihood of enjoyment, and increase the likelihood that running becomes a rewarding long-term healthy movement option for years to come.
Warm Up. This is often overlooked by runners. Just like any workout, it takes the body about 10-15min to warm-up from a resting state to a working state. Before you start your running workout, try getting a little torso movement in before you leave the house (think cat/camel, or down-dog/cobra, and some push-ups) just to get your core warm. Then, walk for at least 5min before starting into a running pace (if you have some preferred dynamic warm up movements, now’s the time!). Even after you start running, be patient with your pace – your breath will catch up to you if you let it. After your run, walking and light stretching can be helpful to start the recovery process.
Train Intuitively. Nobody knows how you feel better than you do. If you feel like you need a longer warm up, warm up a little longer. If you didn’t sleep the night before, or you had a tough workout the day before, and you just don’t feel like your body is up for a run (maybe you even tried to warm up and its not happening), that’s you’re cue that you still need some more recovery time. This is how you will improve and avoid injury – not by “toughing it out,” but by continuing to be available to train – live to train another day as they say. To that end, don’t worry about make-up runs. If you miss one, that’s ok, stick to where you are on the schedule. I like to tell all my clients that we’re shooting for 80% compliance. That goal holds true here.
Pacing. For now, don’t worry too much about your speed. You’ll notice that this plan is broken down by time increments, not distance. That is to help you focus on finding your pace each day. As you warm up and find your breath, strive for a pace where your breathing is rhythmic and not strained, and you don’t feel any “burn” in your legs. You should be able to talk to a friend (socially distanced of course) in comfortable bursts of 3-5 words. This takes time to get the feel for it, and your pace will vary from day to day depending on stress, sleep, mood, etc., so err on the side of slower than faster. As you warm up into a comfortable pace, you’ll naturally speed up over the course of your run.
Lastly, this plan is intended for folks who are generally healthy and clear to exercise. If you are working through, or recently recovered from an injury, or if you have any doubts as to whether you should try running, reach out to your doctor, physical therapist, or healthcare provider for advice. If you have any questions related to this plan, or running in general, feel free to reach out to me as well.
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