Walk to Run for Health
Have you struggled to run for a month, for a week, a few days? What about for ten minutes, or two? Running IS hard, especially at the beginning. Assuming that your doctor has cleared you to exercise here are a few pointers to help you get started and stay on the path to health. Walking is a great way to get into moving for health and, for many, the introduction to running.
Take it Easy - Walk. If your body is not used to exercise don’t force it. Put on your shoes and walk. How does it feel just to walk? Make time to do it, tell your friends and family (maybe even invite them) and walk. The physical and mental health benefits of a simple walk are undisputed.
Distance. Set distance as a goal rather than a time. 5km (3 miles) is perfect for beginners. Why? Most people can walk 5km in an hour and the distance is generally considered the first goal for runners to achieve. If 5km is too much, try 3km and work your way up.
Frequency. Set the number of times per week you want to exercise, this will help you to keep to a plan. Be realistic. For some it might be once a week to start with, for others three times a week is possible. The aim is to make exercise a regular habit. You can always increase the number of days once you are used to getting out.
Walk-Run. Transition from walking to a walk-run. A walk-run is a perfect way to get the body used to moving. Feel your body’s response. The feeling in your feet and legs. How is your posture? How is your breathing? Keep it easy. Use lamp posts as markers: set yourself a goal to jog two, then walk one. Jog five, walk two. Whatever works for you.
Run slow. Do not get caught in the trap of running faster than you are comfortable with. This is a common mistake. Run at your own pace, don’t try to beat your younger self. Live in this moment: you are here, now, improving your health.
Re-read the above point. Keep it easier and slower than you think you should be going.
‘I just got overtaken by a kid/uncle/aunty!’ Don’t worry about anyone else on the path, young or old. Everyone is working to their own pace and rhythm.
Online Training Programmes. There are many online programmes for beginners, usually ‘couch to 5km’, ‘walk to run’ or ‘beginner to 5km’. We prefer programmes that err on the side of caution and progress over a slightly longer time. 8 to 10 weeks rather than 6 or 7. Some examples here and here.
Commitment. How are you going to commit to regular exercise, what happens when life conspires to stop you from exercising? Have a back-up plan ready in advance. If you cannot run today, can you run tomorrow? Are you an evening runner or morning runner? How will you fit the run into your schedule? Who can support you in this?
These videos might help:
Says The Whole Health Practice's Felicia, who used to find running a chore, says “Don’t set yourself up for failure: make your exercise sessions enjoyable and manageable. Have a goal in mind and keep the pace slow. Remember to enjoy the ride, enjoy being outdoors.”
Check out your neighbourhood, often the local district or services publish maps of walking or jogging routes.
Phone exercise apps can also suggest local routes. Plus: track your distance, your time and keep you motivated. Specialist running watches are great but perhaps have morevalue once you are exercising regularly.
Google Maps is especially useful to plan routes. There is a measuring tool (right click on map) that is invaluable.
Does your area have walking or running clubs? Check online. Singapore has dozens, many are casual and suited to beginners. Check out justrunlah.com and runsociety.com for listings.
Instagram is inspirational. Look for local running hashtags. In Singapore #sgrunners #sgfitness #sgfitfam #justrunlah #runsociety
Stay hydrated, drink water. Do not drink a sugar laden (sports) beverage that has more calories than you burn. A 5km walk-run burns about 330 calories. (Question: how many calories in: a 250ml soft drink? About 120 calories. A mocha frappuccino? About 370 calories or could be double!)
We have made quite a few ‘running friends’ on our local park connector and trails. A friendly ‘good morning’ or ‘evening’ brings a smile to all our faces.
Make exercise a part of your life. After the first month you become fitter and your lifestyle changes to accommodate the running. You'll start to get significant health benefits over and above those that walking alone can provide.
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