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Starting a Lifelong Running Program

Aug 17, 2007
I don't think you'll find too many fitness experts who don't feel running is one of the best exercises you can do to keep in shape.

The criticism is the stress on the body. The knees and leg muscles do take a beating. But . . . there are plenty of runners in their 60's and 70's who have been running for years and continue to do so.

Running is simply too great of an exercise to dismiss. Here's a way to make running a lifelong exercise with minimal injuries.

First, warm up is very important. Ideally you should walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes of more. After the body starts to get warmed up, some stretching exercises will help loosen the muscles and prepare them for the workout to come.

A continuous steady stretch should be used. Do not bounce!!

Forget distance - think time. We want to work up to a nice 30 minute workout.

Before you try to progress, the first goal will be walking at a brisk pace comfortably for 30 minutes. If you can do this now, you can move to the next step. If not, work towards that goal.

Once you reach the 30 minutes of brisk walking, you can move to the next step. Warm up as stated for no less than 5 minutes. Now you're going to begin to walk briskly and then run at a slow pace until you become winded. Then walk briskly until you recover. Begin running again.

If it's 15 seconds, fine. 30 seconds - go for it. The idea is to gradually build up your running time.

Start out doing this 3 - 5 times during your exercise. You can do more if you have been exercising regularly.

Here's the good news. Just doing that will be a good exercise routine. Even walking for 30 minutes but getting to the point where you throw in 5 - 1 minute runs is great! You get your heart beat to climb and when you drop back to walking, the rate stays elevated for awhile.

Now, if you're up to it and are so inclined, start increasing the running. Again, a little at a time. If you injure yourself, not only do you have to stop the exercise for a time, but you also might be less likely to pick it up again.

So walk and then begin running for a couple minutes at a time. Or jog at a slow pace for as long as you feel comfortable.

Here's another tip to remember if your routine works up to running the entire time. If you run at a steady pace, then throw in faster runs of 30 seconds or more, and return to running at a steady pace to recover, you will actually get more benefit in your running routine.

The sprints (not all out but we'll call them sprints to make it easy) will force your body out of it's comfort zone. You will become much fitter than you would by running at a slow and steady pace for your entire routine.

Now, if you want to break the boredom, run some hills. You'll feel it in your shins and the front of your thighs as you run up the hill but, and this is good news, it's actually less strain on your knees.

However, be careful and slow it down while running down the hill. Here's where your knees can really take a beating. There's a tendency to pick it up while running downhill as you have great momentum.

Ignore that tendency.

Obviously if you are training for a racing event or such, this type of routine will not apply to you; unless you are just starting to run. But this running routine is something you can do to keep yourself fit while minimizing the risk of injury.

You will have less chance of injury and you're more likely to do it for a lifetime!
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