Returning to Running

The other evening, a friend contacted me to ask my advice on getting back into running.
He explained that although he had been in peak physical condition during active military service, he’s recently settled into a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.
Wanting to reclaim cardiovascular fitness, he’s motivated to make some positive changes.
In regard to his former relationship with exercise, he said:
“I loved my long runs, I lived for the sprint at the end of a 10 miler. How do I get back into loving running where I need it all the time, the energy, the quality of life?”
Here’s my response:

What you have working in your favor is the knowledge in some part of your consciousness is:
1.) That your body is capable of running “x” amount of distance
2.) That you have both enjoyed and felt rewarded by running before.
I don’t have to tell you that 99.999% of running is mental.
You can absolutely do it.
Yes, we are both older now and our bodies don’t always bounce back as quickly (I am perpetually injured, it seems).
BUT, a lot of distance runners hit their stride in their 30’s (getting even faster and more efficient in their 40’s).
You just have to start small and don’t get discouraged.
Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to go out and run that 10-miler next week.
You might want to try doing walk/run to start. It sounds lame, but a lot of people train for full marathons using this method. Walk briskly for 2-3 minutes and jog/run for 30 seconds. Then walk 2-3 minutes and run for 30 seconds. Do this for 30 minutes. Gradually increase running time to 45 seconds-60 seconds (but still do the walking bit) and make that your routine.
Go with what you are comfortable with, but you want to get to the point where you are running for longer than you are walking and then eventually you will just be running.
Additionally, there are some great online training plans that will break the plan down specifically. As a military man, I am sure that you thrive with structure.
There is a good article on that basically echoes what I am telling you and may help get you motivated:
AND here is a link for their version of a similar plan to what I described:
 It may not be ideal, but you can tweak it to your needs/level of fitness/goals.
My reply may seem pat and predictable, but I believe in it.   

***Brief side note: Given my complicated relationship with exercise and body image, some of my readers may object to my doling out “exercise advice”.  This post isn’t advice, per se, but a sharing of experiences and acquired data. 

Of course, my friend consulted with his physician before embarking on this particular lifestyle change to ensure it was safe for him to begin an exercise routine.  If you are beginning (or returning to) a fitness routine, I would encourage you to do the same.***

Anyone can obtain fitness, regardless of limitations.
Don’t have time?
Schedule your workout as though it were an appointment or work meeting.
Work out at unconventional hours.  Join a 24/7 gym.  Walk/run on your lunch hour.  Ride a bicycle as transportation.
Fit it in.
Don’t have the money for a gym membership or personal trainer?
Run/Walk outside, Run with your dog!, ride a bike, swim in the ocean, dance in your house, begin a garden (believe me, that is physically demanding indeed).
Lacking Motivation?
Consider the goals you would like to achieve, whether it is improved health, mental clarity, a sense of well-being, weight-loss, better cardiovascular function, running races or quitting an addiction.
There is a lot of good information online about starting a Running Program, but the vast amount of information can be daunting.
Workout type: Walking and run/walk
Plan length: 7 weeks
Weekly routine: 4 workouts, with optional fifth workout
First workout: 20 minutes with run/walk ratio of 1:4
Goal workout: One hour with run/walk ratio of 2:1
Speedwork: none

 Like I told my friend, it’s best to select a plan and then modify it to suit your level of fitness.
It may seem grueling, difficult and unrewarding at the beginning, but it is worth the time and effort.
Once the momentum has begun, it will be much easier to keep running than to stop.
Having grown up with running, I have a Love/Hate relationship with it.
But Love prevails.
Once a relationship with running is established, the bond is unbreakable.
Are you beginning or returning to a fitness program?

3 thoughts on “Returning to Running

  1. You are most definitely correct. I keep promising myself to start. I need a good (free) online video workout for beginners. I promise to search YouTube this week. Hold me accountable, will you?

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