Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Training Tips: Getting Started as a Beginner

When you are starting your training as a beginner, it is not necessary to worry about how many miles you are running. Instead, focus on the number of minutes that you are running. Gradually, you will begin to cover more distance in the same amount of time, and that is the point when you will want to increase the duration of your workout. As you slowly increase the duration of time that you are running, you will increase the distance that you are running as well.

As you begin your training, be sure to arrange your schedule so that you set aside focused time to devote to your running routine. If you have more free time in the morning, run in the morning. If your life is more flexible in the evening, run in the evening. Or run in the afternoon! Just make sure that your workout time will be reasonably free of interruptions or distractions.

When you begin your daily runs, do not start too fast too soon. Start out slowly so that you give your body time to warm up. As that happens, your pace will increase.

A good beginning threshold is to run for about 20 minutes, which will likely amount to 1-3 miles of distance, three times a week.

If at any point, the distance you are running feels too long, do not be afraid to take walk breaks. To maintain a workout that will lead to greater strength and endurance, do limit your walk breaks to 2 minutes. A common guide is to run for 8 minutes and to walk for 2. This routine will get you accustomed to thinking about your early workouts in 10-minute segments.

As you get stronger, gradually eliminate the walk breaks. You can also gradually increase the amount of time you are running and the number of days that you run.  However, do not increase either until you feel comfortable completing your current level of training. A popular measure of overall comfort is what runners call “conversation pace.”  If you can run and carry on a conversation--with a training partner or, yes, yourself--then your overall fitness at your current level is good, and you can consider increasing the duration of your workouts. 

(Sidenote: In future posts, I will discuss how and why experienced runners should vary pacing between their workouts. When you are just starting, keep things simple.)

Establishing a baseline level of fitness with these early runs will take roughly 2-4 weeks, depending on your overall fitness and the consistency with which you run. After you get acclimated at the beginning level, you can plan to increase the duration of your workouts by 3-5 minutes. At that stage, simply follow the same slow build process as when you started.

From there, as you approach the 30-minute mark, you will start progressing out of the beginner's stage and will be moving into the intermediate phase of your training, which will require a slightly different approach (that I will discuss in due time). You might even start targeting 5K road races to get the feel of the racing experience. If road racing is your goal, I am here to help you. Feel free to contact me if you want to train for a particular race.

No matter what, run steady, and have fun.

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