Running or jogging may appear a simple task. Those sleek go-getters, clad head-to-toe in spandex, out there every morning, hurtling by you, barely breaking a sweat, don’t exactly give those contemplating becoming a jogger, very realistic expectations. Running is not easy, even though it may appear so. It, like any other sport, takes patience, practice and a certain amount of skill before one can be successful at it. The reason why so many beginning runners fail to succeed at actually becoming long-term runners is simply because their expectations upon starting are skewed. In no other sport do people expect to be immediately good when they begin as they do with jogging.
I realized this through experience over the years speaking with clients, but it became most clear the other day while running in my usual place in the Jardin des Tuilleries (Paris). On my 8th or 9th lap around the park, when fatigue began to take it’s toll, I was a little discouraged as two gentleman hustled past me. Not that this doesn’t happen often, I have never been a fast runner, but have gained strength and endurance while running over the years. However, overhearing their discussion as they passed, I learned that these two were embarking on their first attempt at jogging for fitness. Being their first time, I couldn’t help but be surprised by their quick, initial pace. Even if they had just begun, it was easy to guess that their pace could never be maintained for long by anyone in even moderate physical condition. And as I suspected, a mere 5 minutes later, I passed them under the shade of a tree, as they panted and had clearly given up, with not only sweat but disappointment on their faces.
Running, like many sports, takes endurance. To build endurance, beginners must start slowly with the objective of gradually elevating their heart rates for a fixed amount of time based on that person’s individual level of fitness. A cardio session of fast paced walking, that slowly and progressively incorporates small bouts of light jogging intervals is ideal for a novice runner. With time and practice, those bouts of jogging may eventually turn to running or even sprinting, and the portions of walking could become jogging. However the key to success is by starting slowly, taking small steps toward your goal.
For some, the objective may be to perform steady state jogging during a fixed amount of time. By starting with intervals, one can gradually build up the duration of their jogging with time and practice. However, if it is rushed, the inevitable will happen; the new runner will exhaust their energy stores and will ultimately need to stop before they have completed a sufficient amount of time to contribute to their fitness. Trying to perform more than you can take on, can not only bring your current workout to a halt before its end is due, but can also discourage your performance the second time around, or even worse, cause an injury.
For others, the goal may not be to complete a certain distance or to run a particular length of time, but simply to improve their fitness and burn more calories. In which case, including such interval training as alternating walking and jogging, and eventually jogging and sprinting, is one of the best ways to burn up fat and improve cardiovascular health. More and more, exercise and fitness studies suggest that intense bouts of exercise, coupled with resting sequences are superior to long steady hauls on the treadmill in terms of calorie expenditure.
Ultimately, whatever your objective, jogging interval training can bring you the results that you’re looking for.
How to Begin when you’re a Beginner?
Start by warming up with a 8-10 minute brisk walk to get the heart pumping progressively faster and the joints prepared for the workload ahead.
Using a stopwatch, your phone, or a wrist watch with a second hand, begin a light jog for 2-3 minutes, followed by a brisk walk for another 2-3 minutes. Continue completing the intervals consecutively for 30-40 minutes.
Cool down with a walk sequence, followed by stretching every major muscle of the body for at least 20 seconds each.
After 5 or 6 sessions, you may be able to advance further by diminishing the length of walk-time. For example, 3 minutes jogging and 2 minutes walking, then eventually 3 minutes jogging and 1 minute walking etc. Continue the interval training as you progress by increasing your speed, the time and frequency of your sessions.
Bottom line, build your foundation first, then you can add the bricks.
***Always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. These suggestions may not be suitable for you.