How to introduce running into your life

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With so many people across the country busy preparing to take place in next weekend’s SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, it can be easy to feel a little unhappy with ourselves just because we’re not fit enough to join them. But there’s nothing wrong with that – running a marathon takes a huge amount of preparation and training and only suit some people. And while you might not be ready to take part in such a massive competition, or have the ability to, it doesn’t mean you can’t do your own mini version, by taking up jogging or fast paced walking and building up your stamina in a slower and more obtainable way.

Regular running or jogging offers many health benefits. Running can help to build strong bones, as it is a weight bearing exercise; it can strengthen muscles; it can improve cardiovascular fitness; and help maintain a healthy weight.

But if you start off simply by racing down the road and giving it socks, you’ll exert yourself too much and probably never put the trainers back on again. Instead, break yourself in to jogging or running slowly and safely in order to reap the whole benefits:

Start slowly and progress gradually, even if you feel you can do more, hold back and go with the flow.

Start out with a very easy, slow jog, and focus not on intensity but on how long you’re on the road.

Start out with a small amount of time — 10 minutes or 20 minutes, depending on where you are — and run or walk/run comfortably the entire time. Do this for the entire first week – even two weeks if you can manage to.

Gradually increase your time until you can run 30 minutes.

From there, you can stay at 30 minutes or increase the amount of time you run gradually, every two weeks. But be careful not to over do it in the beginning.

The beginners plan: 
If you are a true beginner, and cannot run for 10 minutes, you should start out with a walk/run plan:

Week 1: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 1 minute, and then walk for 1 minute. Repeat these 1/1 intervals for 10 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.

Week 2: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 2 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these 2/2 intervals for 10 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.

Week 3: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 3 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these 3/2 intervals for 15 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.

Week 4: Walk for 10 minutes. Jog slowly for 5 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these 5/2 intervals for 20 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.

Gradually increase your running time until you can do 10 minutes straight. Then increase the 10 minutes to 12, and so on, each week, until you can eventually run for 30 minutes.

And then you’ll be a runner.