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Learning to run

The ability to jog is a great asset and allows you to effectively exercise any place you may be. When done correctly it increases the density of your bones and significantly improves your health and fitness.

It is a popular comment that running is bad for the joints. This is not the case if your body is working efficiently. However, if your muscles are not activating as they should or you perform too much running it can indeed be detrimental for your joints and body as a whole.

To avoid the negative effects of running you need to ensure you have addressed your posture and muscle strengths across the body so you can handle the stresses of running. To this you should use very gradual increases within your training program.

The key though is listening to your body. Joggers are perhaps the most stubborn of all sportsmen, up there with racket sports players for ignoring all their aches and pains and causing more significant damage as a result.

Many people want to run yet find this mode of exercise difficult to grasp. The key is to start off easy and progress progress steadily:

e.g. to build to 3km jogging.

Week 1: 500m (Yes, just 500m)
Week 2: 750m
Week 3: 1000m
Week 4: 1500m
Week 5: 2000m
Week 6: 2500m
Week 7: 3000m
Week 8: 3000m

Please note the distance increases are examples and you should tune into your body to tell you whether you can increase the distance and by how much from week to week if at all. If you have any undue pain e.g. shin, calf, foot etc you will need to halt the increases in distance until the pain has passed

Another way to begin running is to introduce periods of slow jogging and walking. This method assumes you have the aerobic fitness to achieve your goal session time walking at a good speed and that your posture and muscles are in a state to support jogging injury free and without pain. If not focus on the other areas until your body can handle jogging.

The first goal is to set out a maximum time period or distance to cover that you can realistically perform a few times per week, maybe in your lunch hour, before or after work etc. Then build towards it

e.g. to build to 30 minutes jogging.
Week 1: 26 minutes walking 4 minutes jogging
Week 2: 24 minutes walking 6 minutes jogging
Week 3: 20 minutes walking 10 minutes jogging
Week 4: 15 minutes walking 15 minutes jogging
Week 5: 10 minutes walking 20 minutes jogging
Week 6: 5 minutes walking 25 minutes jogging
Week 7: 0 minutes walking 30 minutes jogging
Week 8: 0 minutes walking 30 minutes jogging

If you do at least a couple of sessions a week these goals should be fairly attainable depending on current fitness. The key is to let your body give you what it wants, so progress may be quicker or slower. Please ensure you monitor for pains and injuries. There is no need to run with pain. Instead, stop the training and examine what is going wrong. Remember when jogging the rate or perceived exertion should not go past 15 out of 20.

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