We've all been there – thinking about running, imagining ourselves in our workout gear, breathing in the fresh air, and feeling our heart pumping. Yet, the idea of actually lacing up our shoes and hitting the pavement can be intimidating, especially if you're used to a sedentary lifestyle. But fear not! This blog series is tailored for those who want to embark on a running journey but have no idea where to start. If you're a self-proclaimed couch potato or your daily walks merely involve shuffling between your home, car, and office, then this series is your perfect launchpad into the world of running. Let's dive into the essential steps you need to take before you even begin your first run.
Preparation: Hydration and Fuel
Before you even think about pounding the pavement, it's crucial to get your body prepared for the physical demands of running. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is skipping on hydration. Imagine starting a car without any oil – that's how important water is for your body. Always carry a water bottle during your walks or runs, and take small sips every 5 to 10 minutes. This is especially vital in hot weather conditions to prevent heat stroke and other potential injuries.
Starting with a Walk: A Personal Journey
My running journey began when the taunts about my tummy became too much to ignore. Observing people walking and running in our apartment compound motivated me to take the leap. Armed with my office shoes, I started walking around a 600-meter rectangular track. Initially, walking seemed like a struggle as my body was accustomed to relaxation. But, with determination, I gradually increased my daily walks to 2-3 kilometers in the first 15 days.
Transitioning to a Run-Walk Approach: Building Endurance
As my stamina improved, I introduced short runs within my walking routine – 100 meters of running followed by 500 meters of walking. This marked the beginning of the real struggle – the clash between my willpower and my body's resistance to change. Over the next three months, I consistently trained my body by slowly increasing the running distance. The key was gradual progression; your body is like a child learning something new. You can't expect it to immediately adapt to a new routine after years of inactivity.
The Importance of Listening to Your Body
While enthusiasm is essential, overstraining can lead to injuries. I learned this the hard way, and it's crucial to avoid this mistake. Professional runners follow a comprehensive training regimen that includes more than just running. We will discuss this in later episodes of this blog series. As you're starting from scratch, it's vital to recognize that your body needs time to adjust. Don't rush; if your body enjoys the journey, you'll enjoy it too.
Getting Started: The Practical Steps
- Hydration and Fuel: Drink water and have a light snack like a banana or dates 30 to 45 minutes before your workout. Carry a water bottle and sip regularly during your walk or run. if you cant hold bottle in your hand during walk / run then get a small bag which you can wear at the back and put water bottle or some nuts / dates in it.
- Safety First: Wear reflective clothing if running near traffic. Choose a route with minimal obstacles and elevation changes.
- Start with Walking: Begin with a comfortable pace. Walk for around 30 minutes, covering roughly 2 kilometers. Do this at least 5 days a week for 1 to 2 weeks. If in start you cant do 30 minutes, then reduce it to 15 to 20 minutes as per your body requirement but dont quit. Remember, first step is to train your body. It takes time. It might be hard for you to continue in start but you have already taken a big step by starting the process. You have already conquered your body so let the nature play its role. You let the walking train your body for this change.
- Gradual Progression: Increase your distance by 500 meters to 1 kilometer. Aim for a total of 3 kilometers (around 45 minutes of walking) over the course of 1 to 2 weeks. I repeat again, please don't rush to next step until you are comfortable with the step before. Every body requirement is different. Some people complete the first step of walking without any extra fatigue or muscles cramps but for some it takes time. But keep in mind that IT WILL BE DONE. Your will will make it possible. Don't compare yourselves with others in start phase of your walking / running. Everybody have different body structure and stamina in start. So give your body the time it requires to adapt and believe me, once it adapts, then you will enjoy the rest of the walking and runnings adventure.
- Introduce Brisk Walking: For every 500 to 600 meters, incorporate 100 meters of brisk walking. This elevates your heart rate and prepares your body for future changes.
- Shift to Brisk Walking Dominance: Gradually increase brisk walking intervals to 200 meters for every 500 to 600 meters. Sustain this routine for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Stage 1 Completion: By the time you are done with above, it is almost 1 and half to 2 months, depending on your stamina. Now the time will start to teach your body the next stage. Stay tuned for 2nd episode of this blog series.
Starting a running journey from scratch requires patience, determination, and a respect for your body's limits. Don't rush the process; remember that every small step counts. This initial phase of walking and gradually introducing brisk walking is about building a strong foundation. It's the first step toward transforming your sedentary lifestyle into an active, fulfilling one. Stay tuned for the next episode of this blog series, where we'll explore the next phase of your running journey. Remember, you've got this!