Running For The Non-Runners (April 5 ’14)

For my April 5 article about walk-to-run programs and how even the least talented jogger can become a runner, Walk-to-Run: Running For the Non-Runners, either click here or keep on readin’!

 

I used to hate to run.

In fact, for most of my life, I abhorred it. Couldn’t understand why people did it. Couldn’t understand how people did it. I could never really imagine any scenario or circumstance under which I’d be able to jog, to trot, or to sprint. An overweight (and at times obese) childhood did very little to endear me to the sport; laps around the gym always had me finishing dead last and my participation spelled sudden death for any relay team unfortunate enough to have me.

By the time high school rolled around, I’d shed most of the extra pounds — though running became approximately zero percent easier. I played sports and went to the gym, but still found myself slow and winded and generally unable to run. This continued well into university (and my eating disorder), and eventually led me to the conclusion that, simply put, I am just not a runner.

But I wanted to be.

I really wanted to be! I wasn’t quite ready to just let go of the dream. So, about three years ago, I decided to give it one last shot. I’d plan. I’d focus. I’d do everything right, and no matter how silly I felt going outside and walking after half a mile, I’d stick with it … which is exactly what I did. I worked and worked and worked for about four months, sweating and panting and quietly cursing the people striding past me with ease.

And then it happened. I’d broken through the barrier, opened the floodgates, torn down the wall.

I could run! I could run five kilometres without stopping. And more shocking yet — I was enjoying it! And from that point on, I’ve been a runner. Not a terribly fast runner, not a terribly talented runner, but a runner all the same. I ran my first race last summer on Wolfe Island with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, and an untimely toe injury was the only thing that kept me from The County half marathon in Wellington last fall.

So why have I shared this story with you? Because you should know that no matter how ‘bad’ you think you are at running, you can improve. You can get better. If you really want it, and if you really work for it, you can be a runner.

The trick?

A walk-to-run plan. It may sound simple, but it works because, no matter how challenging we find running, we can all walk. And we can all keep walking. And slowly but surely, with consistency and a lot of sweat, that walking can turn into running.

In that spirit, I’m sharing a 10-week walk-to-run plan with you. That means that you could be running a 5k by the middle of June! All you need is a pair of running shoes and a watch.

Week 1: On Day 1, walk for five minutes. Jog for two minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 2, and then repeat your Day 1 routine on Day 3. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, walk for five minutes. Jog for three minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 6 and Day 7, and don’t worry if you’re sore! It gets better.

Week 2: On Day 1, walk for five minutes. Jog for three minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, walk for five minutes. Jog for four minutes, and then walk for five minutes. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, you’re upping the ante! Walk five minutes, then jog five minutes, and then walk another five minutes. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 6 and Day 7.

Week 3: On Day 1, walk for five minutes. Jog for six minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, start by jogging for four minutes, and follow it up by walking for five. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, walk five minutes, then jog seven minutes, and then walk another five minutes. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 6 and Day 7.

Week 4: On Day 1, walk for five minutes. Jog for seven minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, walk for five minutes. Jog for eight minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, walk five minutes, then jog nine minutes, and then walk another five minutes. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 6, and go for a leisurely walk on Day 7.

Week 5: You’re halfway done — way to go! On Day 1, walk for five minutes. Jog for nine minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, start by jogging for six minutes, and follow it up by walking for five. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, walk five minutes, then jog 10 minutes, and then walk another five minutes. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 6. On Day 7, walk for five minutes, jog for 11, and finish by walking for five minutes.

Week 6: On Day 1, walk for five minutes. Jog for 11 minutes, then walk for another five. Repeat twice before heading home. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, jog for 13 minutes, then walk for five. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, jog for 15 minutes, then walk for five. Rest on Day 6 and Day 7.

Week 7: On Day 1, jog for 15 minutes, and follow it up with a five-minute walk. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, start by jogging for eight minutes, and follow it up by walking for five. Repeat once before heading home. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, jog for 16 minutes, then walk for five. Rest on Day 6. On Day 7, jog for 17 minutes, then walk for five.

Week 8: On Day 1, jog for 17 minutes, then walk for five. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, jog for 18 minutes, then walk for five. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, jog for 20 minutes, then walk for 5. Rest on Day 6 and Day 7.

Week 9: On Day 1, jog for 20 minutes. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, jog for 12 minutes, then walk for five, and then jog for another 12 minutes. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, jog for 24 minutes. Rest on Day 6. On Day 7, jog for 25 minutes, and give yourself a major pat on the back!

Week 10: On Day 1, jog for 25 minutes. Rest on Day 2. On Day 3, jog for 27 minutes. Rest on Day 4. On Day 5, jog for 30 minutes. Rest on Day 6 and Day 7.

It’s important to note that, especially in the early stages, you don’t want to go with the ‘hammerhead’ approach. Even if you can run for more than two minutes at a time, don’t push it. You’re building. The rest is just as important as the running — I know it seems counterintuitive, but trust me. Also, if any given week is giving you trouble, don’t feel badly about extending the program and repeating a week.

Listening to your body is a very important part of success.

Molly Daley is a nutritionist and runs the healthy eating, fitness, and wellness website Diary of a Formerly Fat Girl. Find her at www.DiaryofaFormerlyFatGirl.com or follow her on Twitter, @DOAFFG

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