[Reproduced from Jane Thurnell-Read's  Health and Goodness newsletter of January 2005]

Learning to Run

by Jane Thurnell-Read


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Many people think it is extraordinary that you need advice about how to run, but the right advice can help to ensure that you run without injuring yourself and with the maximum enjoyment.

I have recently started working with a personal trainer and running specialist, Kerry Priest, to improve my running style. Although I completed the London marathon some years ago, I have always been a shuffler rather than a runner. I've also been prone to injury. Kerry has worked a transformation on me, so that I am now enjoying running (a hitherto unknown occurrence) and I am running injury-free. 

I asked Kerry for advice for new runners, and here's what she told me:

If you haven’t run before, start by walking briskly for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Use a pedometer if possible, as this will give you useful (and motivating) feedback.

As soon as you can do that comfortably, start doing interval walking – pick up your pace for 1 minute then back to normal walking for 1 minute.  Do this for the duration of your 30-minute session.

When you are confident with that, start a run-walk programme. This entails doing a 5-10 minute warm by walking at a comfortable pace, then run for 1 minute and walk for 2 minutes. Repeat this for a total of 20-30 minutes, 3 –4 times a week. Repeat this for up to 5 more weeks.

Over the next 8-12 weeks alternate running for 2 minutes and walking for  2 minutes,  gradually increasing the amount you are running until you are running for 15 minutes and walking for 1 minute. It will then be really easy then to be able to run for 30 minutes by leaving out the 1 minute recovery. 

By taking things slowly you will reduce the risk of injury and enjoy your runs.

You need to stretch gently after every session to return muscles back to their pre-exercise state. (In general stretching is not advised before exercise as research has shown that this may damage muscles that are not warmed up.)

Here are 3 books that Kerry recommends:

Walking For Fitness  (particularly good for beginners)

The Runners' World Complete Book Of Running

The Complete Book Of Running For Women

(Click on the title for more information or to order)

I'll be asking Kerry for more tips and advice for future newsletters.

Kerry is a qualified fitness instructor and personal trainer/coach, specialising in running. She works in Cornwall, England and organises women’s running groups, running holidays in Cornwall, and offers personal training/coaching.  Click here to contact her.