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    Running for exercise is a great way to torch calories and stay in shape. Without being careful, however, you can quickly burn out or injure yourself. In order to become successful at running there are a few things you should know before jumping in. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Put Your Right Foot Forward

Thinking about running? Here's how to get started.

You see fit, trim people running on the treadmills or in the park. They're barely huffing and puffing as they speed past you. What if someday you could be that healthy? Right now you can't run a single city block before having to stop, but you have to start somewhere to get in running shape.

Running for exercise is a great way to torch calories and stay in shape. It may look easy, but it's quite the opposite. Not to mention it's tough on your joints. Without being careful, you can quickly burn out or injure yourself. In order to become successful at running there are a few things you should know before jumping in.

Remember the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running. - Sarah Condor

A Slow Start

Going from couch potato to running a 5K overnight is a bad idea. You may have good intentions, but it won't bode well for you. Running is a sport that takes weeks or months to break into. The key is to start slowly. By slowly, think walking. This is especially helpful if you're completely out of shape. Walking will help build endurance, increase aerobic capacity, and strengthen your leg muscles. At this stage you're still learning to make exercise part of your daily routine.

Week one, go for a 30-minute walk every day. Week two, walk every day but pick up the pace to a level that causes you to feel winded but still allows you to carry on a conversation. Continue walking on week three, but speed walk. You should walk fast enough to break a sweat and have trouble talking while walking.
During these first three weeks, plan to incorporate upper-body strength-training twice a week. Having a strong core will allow you to keep proper form while running and reduce fatigue.

Pick Up the Pace

It's finally time to add in some running, as week four will transition to a 10-week run/walk program. In the beginning, plan to run/walk three days a week, resting on the other days. By the end of 10 weeks you can work your way up to four or five days a week.

Start your workout with a moderate-paced five-minute walk to warm up your muscles and joints. Then for the remainder of your 30-minute workout session, alternate between walking and running at a slow, easy pace. Each week you'll gradually walk less and run more until you find you're able to run the entire workout. End each workout with a 5 to 10-minute cool-down period and stretching.

Get the Equipment

Running is one sport that doesn't require much training or equipment. All you need is a quality pair of shoes and water to stay hydrated. The best place to buy shoes is at a specialty running or athletic store, where a trained associate can recommend the best shoe based on your foot's measurements and the way your foot lands on the ground. It may seem excessive to have someone help you pick a running shoe, but your shoes can make or break your running career. Without good support, injury is likely.

While not required, comfortable workout clothes, a sports watch, and a heart-rate monitor are all pluses when it comes to running.

Proper Form

Running may come naturally, but there's good form and bad. The earlier you learn proper form, the more successful you'll be at it. As you run, keep your head up, your back straight, and your eyes looking ahead. Relax your shoulders. If you need to, shake our your arms to keep your shoulders from tensing up. Swing your arms forward and back, not from side to side, with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and your hands in a loose fist. Your heel should land on the ground first and you should push off the ground with the ball of your foot.