Jogging is a great form of exercise, but it is tough when you are not accustomed to regular exercise. Many people watch a big event such as the London Marathon, The Great North Run or the up coming Athletics World Championships and get all excited. “I can do that!” they think, while reclining on the sofa with a bag of crisps close by. So they buy some running shorts and head out the next day, only to come close to having a cardiac arrest within ten meters.
“Gosh, that’s way too difficult!” they gasp and quit on the spot. So how do we avoid these problems?
Knowing how to get started is the key to jogging success. If you approach jogging in a sensible manner, you are much more likely to enjoy your new exercise routine, plus you will stick at it for longer. However, if you approach jogging the wrong way, you are at risk of injury.
How Do I Start Jogging?
1. Be honest about your athletic ability and do not delude yourself into thinking you can run before you can walk.
2. If you are very overweight, schedule a health check-up to make sure there are no underlying health problems likely to see you ending up in casualty within ten minutes of putting on a pair of running shoes.
3. Buy some good quality running shoes. They don’t need to be exorbitantly expensive, but they do need to fit properly and be designed for the purpose of running—in other words, a pair of fashion sneakers or similar are unlikely to do you any favours.
The key to jogging success is to build up your fitness nice and slowly. This will help you stick with the program and ensure you avoid any painful injuries along the way. To begin with, measure out a circuit near where you live—preferably at least two miles long—and try walking the route at a reasonably fast walking pace. If this is easy, you can think about jogging part of the way next time, but if it is difficult, repeat it at least four times per week until you’re comfortable walking the entire circuit at a brisk pace.
Once you are happy you have achieved a reasonable level of fitness at walking pace, take a watch with you and walk fast for five minutes until your heart rate is elevated. At the five-minute mark, start jogging slowly and continue for two minutes. At the end of two minutes, recover by walking for two minutes and then repeat until you are within five minutes walking distance of the end of your route.
If you find it easy to jog for two minutes at a time, increase the jogging periods and reduce the walking sections, but if jogging is tough, reduce the jogging and increase the walking until your fitness improves.
A Run-Walk Fitness Program
The idea behind a jog-walk program is that you slowly increase the amount of time you spend jogging and gradually reduce the walking periods until you can jog for at least three miles with no walk breaks. Depending on how out of shape you are, it could take as long as twelve weeks to reach the point where you can jog or run three miles consistently, but it will happen as long as you try not to do too much too quickly.
Take Rest Days
Rest days are very important. Taking a rest day helps your tissues begin the repair process, so if you skip a rest day in favour of another training session, it won’t be long before you pick up an injury. Take at least two rest days in any given week. If you can’t bear to sit around bored, go for a swim or cycle instead; both are excellent forms of cross-training.
If you hate jogging alone, join a local running group. Exercise is always more fun with friends – you can hone your body and give your social life a boost at the same time!
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