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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 January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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