By Cindy Abrami, NASM-Corrective Exercise Specialist, UESCA Running and Multisport Coach and holds a BS in Nutrition

As gyms, pools and other recreational facilities have closed down, and look to be closed for an undetermined amount of time, we seem to have entered a mini-running boom, as reported by this New York Times article.  Desperate times call for desperate measures and that includes putting on some running shoes and doing what we can to keep fit and keep active.

As a running coach, this is encouraging to witness and I’m hoping, especially for those who were previously inactive, that it sticks with them.  The hardest part of starting a running habit is starting a running habit.  It’s a demanding discipline and sometimes it’s hard to get over that initial hump.  New runners, even those who are fit from other types of training, are surprised at how difficult it is to move our bodies on land.

As a coach, my highest goal is to keep my athletes injury free while helping them push and find new limits.  We are seeing people go from couch to run.  We’re seeing people go from spin bike to run.  We are seeing people go from pool to run.   The couch, bike and pool are virtually impact free so this poses a bit of a dilemma for our new runners.

The skeletal-muscular system needs time to adjust to the impact of running, and in fact, new runners will find that they gain cardiovascular fitness more quickly than skeletal-muscular adaptation.

So let’s take a quick look at how to adapt to running while avoiding injury and avoiding the shocking “learning” curve.  By following these few easy tips, you’ll be able to ease into it and soon will be gliding along in our new running boom.  I am also including an 8 week training schedule which is based on these tips and is designed to slowly increase running efforts with minimal stress on the body while gradually building running fitness.

Keep in mind these are tips for those who are starting as new runners, infrequent runners, for those who’ve not run in a long time and/or are coming back from injury.

Don’t worry about miles.  Initially the best way to adapt to running is to use measures of time rather than distance.  While the body is under a new stress, the duration of the stress is the most important factor.  Basing your workouts on time will also prevent you from overdoing it.  Doing too much too soon will lead to injury and sideline you before you really get a chance to improve.

Use an established plan of walk-to-run progression to keep yourself accountable to proper increases.  While it might not seem practical, adding some complexity to your walk/run workouts will keep you mentally engaged and motivated.  A schedule of progression gives you specific intervals of running and walking and the schedule progresses over time.  For those who opt to simply go out and run until they’re tired and then walk, and repeat that pattern, will find it difficult to move beyond the internal comfort zone.  A schedule will push you to keep running even if you feel like walking, and that is where the adaptations take place.

Slowly increase the amount of time you’re out on the walk/run and as the time increases, so will the percentage of time spent running versus walking.  There are two elements of time working to your advantage.

Pay attention to your form.  It’s not necessarily easy to make your own adjustments in running form and if often takes quite a lot of time and work with a coach to do so, but you can focus on a few important aspects.  Think in terms of landing softly on your mid-foot, opening up your hip when you extend the foot back and landing underneath your body.  The running stride is behind the body, not in front of the body.

Don’t run every day.  Especially for those who are new to running, running 3-4 days per week is a great starting point.  Use the other days to do strength and conditioning type workouts at home.

Make sure you’ve got good running shoes that fit you well and that you find comfortable.

With those tips in mind, feel free to download my free Walk to Run 8 Week Progression Training plan.  It takes you from no running to a 30-36 minute run.  Once you’ve reach that ability, you’re ready to slowly increase your running time and begin adding intensity.  But that’s a story for another article.

Remember to reach out to me if you’d like help or have any questions.

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About the Author: Cindy Abrami, BS Nutrition, NASM-CPT/CES, AFAA, Pn1 Nutrition Coach, UESCA Certified Running and Multisport Coach, Schwinn Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor

Cindy is a fitness and nutrition Professional, and elite level masters athlete with a passion to help her community find fullness of health and abundance of life through fitness and proper nutrition.  Cindy is a competitive runner, duathlete and triathlete and holds national champion status as a masters runner and is the 2018 and 2019 ITU Sprint Duathlon World Champion (50-54).  She is currently working to become a Human Movement Specialist with a focus on injury prevention.  She is the Founder and President of The Wellness Movement, Inc. and is actively expanding The Wellness Movement WE CAN Warriors training programs into other communities nationwide.  If you’re interested in becoming a TWM Coach or would like to participate in a program, or are interested in one-on-one coaching, use our contact page to get in touch with us.