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Running for Beginners

Running for Beginners

In 2003, I said that the only time you’d ever find me running was if Godzilla were chasing me. Then, a year later, I ran a trail marathon in November 2004. Marathons are officially 26.2 miles. Since that point, I’ve falling quite off that wagon, due to work pressures, and some lifestyle changes, and I couldn’t run a single mile in a row. However, that’s about to change.

How does a fat guy get fit enough to run? Are you thinking of taking up running? Here’s some advice:

Trails versus Street

First, a word about trail running. Trails are softer which gives two immediate results. One, your knees thank you for less painful impact. Two, because trails are less solid than streets, you end up running slower than your maximum potential. This is great from my perspective, because I have a habit of overdoing it. I want the slowdown.

The Right Shoes

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It’s really important to us proper footwear. I learned firsthand all the crazy things that can go wrong. I will throw out there, however, that barefoot running is a really small niche interest right now, and I’ve tried it on beaches and on safe trails, and I loved it.

Every one is different and there are all kinds of articles out there for selecting shoes. Just know that you need new shoes, you need them to be really well fit for your needs (for instance, you take a larger shoe size for running than you do for casual wear), and that you need the right kind of support for the way your feet land. Google around for this, or email me. I’ll help you further, if you’d like.

Run / Walk Programs

When I had my first running breakthrough, it was this: you are still a runner if you have to slow down and walk for a bit. John Bingham’s great book, NO NEED FOR SPEED, was an excellent resource for me in learning how to run. All of John’s products are great that way, and “The Penguin,” as he likes to call himself, is a wealth of knowledge unto himself.

Standard Disclaimer: see your physician before trying this or any other program. This is just for informational use and doesn’t constitute something worth doing. Worked for me.

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Here’s a sample of a run/walk program that I mentioned to a friend the other day. The “R” stands for running, and the “W” stands for walking. The number is for how many minutes of each one might do. I do this in multiples of 30 minutes for the first few weeks. As time progresses, I consider adding more minutes (maybe another cycle of the run/walk program) into the mix. The basic premise is to slowly build yourself up to running more and walking less. Each line represents a week of training:

Warm up by walking briskly for 2 minutes, maybe 3. Then, start this:

  • 1R , 4W x 6 times. Week 1
  • 1R , 3W x 7 times. Week 2
  • 2R, 3W x 6 times. Week 3
  • 2R, 2W x 7 times. Week 4
  • 3R, 3W x 5 times. Week 5
  • 3R, 2W x 6 times. Week 6
  • 3R, 1W x 7 times. Week 7
  • 4R, 2W x 5 times. Week 8
  • 4R, 1W x 6 times. Week 9
  • FULL Running for 30 minutes.

If you have to skip a running minute or two early on, do so. Just walk briskly and catch your breath. Don’t be religious about this. Make it work for you.

How FAST?

When I’m saying running, this is basically a step above brisk walking. Think of it as a controlled shuffle. Focus on turning your feet over quickly, and not running fast. Just keep thinking about turning your feet over, which should be slightly longer strides than if your shoes were tied together, but not big huge gaping stretches. With a run/walk program, the trick is to keep the “difference” between the running and the walking down to a minimum, so when you’re walking and catching your breath a bit, make sure that’s still a brisk walk.

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Don’t worry about speed. Get your distance and your duration up. Then, speed will come out of your endurance and your toning.

Mileage versus Minutes

I’m a bigger fan of minutes versus miles, but as you get faster and better, and more confident in your running, you might switch. The best thing to realize is: unless you’re trying out for a world-class team, there is no official right or wrong way to do it, only strong suggestions and passionate people on either side of every possible schism one could experience. This is how *I* did it the first time, and how I plan to do it next.

Hydration, Eating

First, get a lexan water bottle. The famous brand name is Nalgene. They are recycling number 7, in case you’re being offered a ripoff. In the US, they cost around $7 on the low end. But why? Because those bottles handle bacteria way better than when you re-use your disposable water bottles, and they’re nicer on the environment. Having them around makes you want to drink more. And other hacks I haven’t considered.

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A note about eating: do so a half hour or so before you run. An hour’s best, but fit it into your schedule. What’s good to eat (and NOT good to eat) before a run? High carbs and low glycemic index food, like energy bars (CLIF Bar is my personal favorite), Oatmeal is easy, even the instant kind. What NOT to have are things high in fats, like sausage. Peanut butter is usually a great energy food, but keep it to maybe 1 table spoon along with a slice of multigrain bread.

The point is, it’s important to have energy in the tank. The more you have ready for your run, the better you’ll feel while trying to run.

Your Advice

I’m open to your advice. One thing that’s certain about things like running: you’ll get about 50/50 responses to the above where some will say, “This is full of crap” or “that’s not running, that’s jogging” or whatever. You know what? YOU are the person qualified to tell whether advice works for you. If it’s running to you, it’s running to me. But what else will you add? I’m looking for tips before I get out all the lead and start running this week.

–Chris Brogan produces a weekly audio podcast called Fat Guy Gets Fit. He’s looking for more subscribers. Don’t make him beg.

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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