The transition from a leisurely walk to running short distances is an immensely satisfying one. Having already gotten into the rhythm of walking regularly, one can easily make the shift to becoming a runner. A run is a great cardiovascular activity which helps in building stamina, reducing the tummy, and toning up the body. However, it needs focus in terms of breathing right and maintaining the correct posture.

Before you begin running:

You will need a comfortable pair of running shoes before you begin training. Any regular pair of running-specific shoes available in the market should be good to start with. You need not get worried by the myriad of options. If you do have an injury or flat fleet, do point it out at the sports apparel store and they will be able to help you select a pair of shoes with appropriate padding. Good quality running shoes cost anywhere between Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 4,000.

Another area that needs focus is apparel. Running shorts are preferable. However, even your track suit bottoms are great to begin with, just don’t wear anything with too much loose material as it may get in the way of your stride.

Next, you will need to find a 30 minute window during the day that you can dedicate to your running. Pick the time of the day you are most comfortable with. Some people love beginning their day with a run whereas others prefer to wind down their days with an evening jog.

The running program:

As a beginner, you need to alternately have ‘running days’ and ‘rest days’.

On ‘running days’ you must begin with a warm-up by walking briskly for about 5 minutes. This helps get your blood circulating and primes the body for the exercise to follow.

After the warm up, break into a gentle jog and slowly build up the rhythm to a comfortable pace. Continue for about 2 minutes or until you start feeling slightly breathless and then slow down to a brisk walk again. Once you feel comfortable, pick up your speed again and run for another short distance. You now need to continue this run-walk-run combination for the next 30 minutes. The strategy is to build your stamina over the coming weeks so as to increase the duration of each short run and gradually decrease the number of times you have to slow down to a walk.

After the run, you will need to cool down. To do this, slow down to a brisk walk for the last 5 minutes of your training. Post this, do some basic stretching exercises for the lower back, hamstring, quadriceps, calves, groin and the arms. These stretches greatly reduce chances of injury.

On your ‘rest days’, you should still walk for 30 minutes to keep your body moving. Taking a ‘rest day’ will help your muscles have time to recover from the previous day’s run and strengthen them for the next.

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