I love this post! I've run for 20 years without injury (knock on wood) and I've never found a fitness routine that is as intense, cleansing, and effective. But it's hard. Here are my tried and true tips for beginners--I tried to be thorough but sorry it's so long.
: Running is extremely cheap as exercise goes, EXCEPT that you need to fork over the bucks for shoes. They'll cost you about $100. You MUST get proper shoes. This means going to a dedicated
store. There, someone who knows what they're doing watches you walk, and assesses your gait. They'll figure out which way you roll (pronate, supinate) and whether you need built up arches. You'll learn what type of shoes to get, and this is your friend especially as a beginning runner. If you read this and you're still want to get out there in your old, white, heavy-soled tennis shoes or "cross trainers" please just reconsider running for fitness. You'll do yourself no favors unless you wear proper shoes. Here's an article to check out for more detail on this point: http://www.epodiatry.com/running-shoes.htm
2. The 10 Minute Hurdle
: Conquer the first 10 minutes, and you've cracked the code! Most people give up running (entirely) as a method of fitness because they've never done it longer than 10 minutes. The problem is, they start running a lot faster than they can sustain. Then, they quickly poop out of breath, cramp, or both. Shortly thereafter, they're doubled-over, gasping, venomously deriding this horrible, painful activity and reaching in that old mental database of excuses why they can't run very far (knee injury, foot pain, swollen hair folicles, what not). Lest this be you, start very SLOW. The trick to get through 10 minutes is simply to jog as slowly
as necessary to allow you to keep going for 10 minutes. I don't care if you're jogging so slow you feel ridiculous--trust me--it will work. If you can make it to 10 minutes, something magical happens (you're warmed up) and you'll probably be able to KEEP going longer.
3. Sustaining vs. intervals
: It is better to run slow contiguously than to do running/walking intervals. If you can. Sometimes you have to do intervals but if you can try to slow it down and go contiguously you'll be better off for weight loss and for developing your running "legs." You'll be surprised by how fast your running skills improve. In a week you'll notice a definite improvement. In two weeks you'll be able to run further than you ever thought possible (and so on). It is a very quickly developing sport, which is why it is so cool.
4. Breathing Technique
: Controlled, continuous breathing is essential. Feel free to make a ton of noise breathing! I breathe IN through my mouth and nose, and out through my nose. This technique helps me focus on breathing, which keeps your heart rate more even and keeps your blood oxygenated enough so you can complete the first 10 minutes and beyond
: To avoid cramps, run in a very controlled fashion--putting your steps down slowly from HEEL to TOE. Just how it sounds, roll your foot from heel to toe each time to take a step. Running on the balls of your feet is a great way to develop your calves <g> but also the most expeditious way to get a horrid cramp. It is a pretty advanced running technique mostly for doing hills and, of course, speed on the flat. Avoid it if you want to avoid cramps. For some people, it is your natural tendency so you might want to think about what you're doing and consciously steer yourself back to "heel to toe" step position as you run. Also, excess arm swinging causes cramps and wastes energy. Try to focus on keeping your arms low and loose at your sides and you'll notice the difference.
: Ahem. If you have any extra weight to lose (which most of us out here do), it is best NOT
to wear baggy shorts or pants to run in. I recommend the fitness shorts that are kind of like bicycle shorts (tight around the leg) and if you're self-concious just wear them with a long tshirt or sweatshirt. If you use baggy shorts with any extra weight on your thighs not only will you have the unsightly bunching of your shorts but you will (trust me) get an uncomfortable raw rash in your nether region
7. Speed, Distance, Duration
: In the beginning I recommend focusing on the duration of your runs as the meter for your progress. Try to build up in your first month to be able to run 20 minutes continuously. After you figure out your technique and pace, you can tweak and push your milestones in different directions by adding more speed, distance, or duration.
8. Be safe:
If you're going to use music try to run somewhere there are no cars around (like a park trail or something). If you're running around cars, I recommend not using music or keeping it low enough you can hear. Also, if you're running at night use the reflective tape so cars can see you.
9. Indoors vs. Outdoors
: Treadmills are great for building skills, confidence, and maintenance purposes. But there is really no comparison to running outside where there are natural slopes, wind resistance, and heightened awareness. Plus, the changing surroundings and visual expanse makes the time whiz by a lot faster than the treadmill. I always get faster results when I get outside. But a treadmill is great too and you can sing at the top of your lungs if you've got one in your living room. I highly recommend it!
: Lose Yourself by Eminem is a great running song. Music with a lot of intensity and a good beat will help a lot!
Ok, I blasted this post and I know it's too much but I got excited. Maybe it will help one fledgling running and if it does, I've done my job! If anyone has any questionss, ping me over email.