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Beginning a Running Program

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Part 1: Lets Get Started

This series is intended for someone who has never ran before, someone who wants to get back in running after being inactive for a period of time, or someone needs to reset their running.

What most people who have never ran seriously before don’t realize is they don’t need to “kill themselves” with each run. Even the elite marathoners do not run every run hard. 80% of your weekly mileage should be at an easy pace, and this is only if you are training for a race. If you are just starting out or building a base, then all of your runs should be at an easy pace. What defines an easy pace? It should be conversational. Meaning you should be able to carry an entire conversation without stopping to take a breath. A more scientific way is to wear a heart rate monitor and run at your “aerobic rate”. This can be found by subtracting your age from 180 and was established by Dr. Phil Maffetone. Maffetone trained many elite athletes and even helped Mark Allen win six Ironman Events, with the last being at age 37! For example, a 35 year old would be training at a heart rate of 145 or lower on all of their easy runs regardless of the pace. This will help build ones aerobic fitness and eventually their pace will improve but at the same heart rate. So one may be running at a 10:00 to 10:30 mile pace beginning this type of training, and by 4-6 months into it they may be running 9:30 to 10:00 miles at the same pace.

Several things to consider

Beginning Runners
Do not let speed or pace deter you from running, regardless of what pace your fellow runners may be running. Your goal is to keep your heart rate in the appropriate zone. If this means walking, then you need to walk. Walk 2 minutes, then run 2 minutes. Focus on your hear rate and eventually you we will be running more then waking. Start of with 30 minutes of activity and progress to one hour. You will first obtain 30 minutes while running them progress to longer activity. Remember, your goal is not to see how fast or far you an run, but rather to sustain your heart rate in its aerobic zone for up to sixty minutes. This will build cardiovascular endurance making you a better runner, as well burn more fat. The ability to burn fat while running slow is a topic for another discussion but one will burn more fat running slower then harder.

Seasoned Runners
As many runners head out the door, they have a predetermined pace before they even start their run. This can be problematic because pace is not a true determinant for gauging how “hard” you should be running. By using the “no pain – no gain” philosophy, your body becomes vulnerable to overuse and eventually can become injured. Many runners have a goal of becoming faster and think they need to run faster to accomplish the. This is definitely NOT TRUE! I have made this mistake and have also witnessed countless runners do the same. Slow down! I have seen runners PR in a 5k by simply adding mileage and slowing there pace down to an aerobic pace. If you are reading this and currently have been running half marathons or marathons and just can’t improve your time regardless of how fast and how many 800 and mile repeats you are doing- I suggest you slow down. Slowing down and running at your aerobic pace will improve your efficiency in 3-6 months. While this may seem like a long time, it is not. I tell many of my runners that the most important part of any marathon training program is the 6 months leading up to it.

Answers to questions you may have from what I has been discussed here can be found in most of my blog posts. If you want to ask a question, please feel free to do so in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer all of them. Try tweeting me as well! If I’m in between patients you may get a quicker response!! @runnerdoctor

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