No pain, no gain, right? WRONG!!! I want you to throw that mindset out the window before you ever start running.
It is important to ease into any exercise program slowly. This is especially true with running as it is a higher impact sport. And, of course, make sure that you have the ok of your doctor. And if anything hurts while you're exercising it's important to stop and figure out what's going on. Pain is our body's way of telling us that something is wrong. Listen to your body!
My favorite beginning program is Couch to 5K. This program alternates walking and running, increasing the time spent running every week. It is to be done 3 times a week and 3 times ONLY!!!
You see, one of the biggest pitfalls for new runners is doing too much too soon. After a few weeks your cardiovascular health improves dramatically and you feel like you could go for miles and miles. Unfortunately it takes longer for your muscles to catch up. And even longer still for your bones and tendons to be strong enough to handle daily running and double-digit miles. Do too much too soon and you risk injury that will keep you away from running for an extended period of time.
Right now I'm at the Bridge to 10K step. It is still an interval program that is easing me up to the 10K distance. I'm not even thinking of starting Half training until the middle of April at the EARLIEST. Why is this? Because you should only take on Half training after you've been running regularly for 6 months. If you'd like to learn more about easing into training and why it's so important I recommend the book "Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running."
by John Bingham (of the quote from my last post) and Jenny Hadfield. They go into detail of what goes on in your body as you become a runner.
Another thing I want to talk about is illness and running. As we are now entering the height of cold and flu season we'll probably all be dealing with this sooner or later. Generally speaking, if symptoms are from the neck up (basically nasal congestion, sneezing, that sort of thing) then it's ok to keep doing what you're doing as long as you feel up to it. The exception to this would be a sinus infection - strenuous exercise with an active sinus infection can make you even sicker. If symptoms are neck down (chest cough/congestion, fever, body aches) then rest, rest, rest! You can do so much damage to your body if you exercise with this type of illness.
Right now I have a nasty chest cold so I'm not liking this advice very much. Who am I kidding, though? I don't think I'd even make it past my driveway without hacking up a lung.
But it's hard to make myself stay home when it's supposed to be a running day. I'm supposed to be at Week 1 Day 3 right now! And I'll admit that missing a day scares me. It scares me because I fear that I will fall back into my sedentary lifestyle. That I'll fall off the exercise and healthy eating wagon. The logical side of me knows that one "off" week is not going to make a difference in my overall training. But the emotional side has a hard time accepting that. It's something that I need to work through though. Things are going to come up that are out of my control and it's important to learn how to deal with them and continue towards my goal rather than letting them stop me like I've done in the past.
So let's raise our orange juice glasses and toast to a healthier next week!