Ending with a beginning
Nikki Gillingham // April 12, 2013
So, here it is! My last Symmetry column. Suddenly, sitting down to write this piece is really sending the message home that I will be finishing my time at the Mount in only a few short weeks. Although the school year is ending, the summer is just beginning, and that means plenty of opportunities for all of us to keep on keeping on – with life, learning and laughter.
Spring and summer often signal the beginning of new adventures for many people. In that spirit, and to answer a request I received, I’m going to give you the tools you need to start a running program. Although every runner is different, and you may find the need to tweak the program for best results, these tips should get you on your way to becoming a runner in no time (which is what I secretly wish will happen).
First, make sure you get a good pair of shoes. By ‘good’ I don’t mean expensive. You should have proper running footwear (not walking shoes, not cross-trainers, not Pumas) with some support underneath but not too much rigid structure. I am an advocate for barefoot running and minimalist shoes, but running in shoes meant for fore-foot striking can injure you if that’s not how you run. Since most people run with a heel-to-toe landing motion, opt for a sneaker with some heel support. You can train yourself as you progress to change your stride so you land on the mid-to-front of your foot; this improves efficiency (AKA speed) and puts less pressure on your knees.
Once you have the shoes, get out there! If you are truly a beginner, start with a 30-minute run-walk. Walk for 2 minutes, and then run for 1. If that’s too easy, try a 1:1 ratio instead. Find an interval that’s somewhat challenging, but doable. Remember: you want to make it through the full 30 minutes! Do this 4 times the first week, with two ‘easy’ days of just walking. Take one rest day.
If you feel good at the end of the week, take it up a notch. Do the run-walk intervals for 5 days instead of 4, with one easy day and one rest day. Try to adapt your intervals so you are slowly beginning to run more and walk less. Before you know it, you’ll be able to complete the full 30 minutes of running.
Proper nutrition is key when running, whether you’re a professional or just starting out. Take in some healthy carbs (fruit, multi-grain toast and peanut butter, orange juice) an hour or two before your run, and remember to refuel with lots of water and protein after. A stretching routine will help keep knots at bay, and your calves free from pain. If you find you’re getting tight even with stretching, look into purchasing a foam roller. You can buy them at any Runner’s Room. The harder they are the more effective they will be at massaging out the knots.
Finally, keep track of your progress! There is nothing more motivating than seeing how awesome you are. While there are countless sites available, I use www.flotrack.org to keep track of my mileage, and the colourful blocks make it easy to see which days I’ve run and which I haven’t. It’s free to create an account. Reward yourself for sticking to it, even when it gets tough, because you’re on your way to discovering a whole new you.
Here is a link to an 8-week beginners running program from Runner’s World. Use it, try it, modify it, or ditch it entirely. As I said, each runner is different and you will soon find what works for you and what doesn’t.
I wish you all a wonderful summer, and all the best as you begin your new adventure, whether it be with fitness, work, life, or continued learning. Feel free to keep in contact with me and send me any health, fitness and running related questions at anytime.