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April 1, 2015
Spring in Your Step: Learning to Run Long Distances

Spring is in the air, and after a long winter, many of us are excited to get outside and get moving!

Running can be a great way to improve your fitness, improve your health, and decrease stress.  Many people are intimidated to start a new fitness routine, or those who have tried to start running long distances may end up injured or discouraged. Below are tips to get you started safely and effectively.

One of the most common mistakes that beginners make is trying to do too much too soon.  Following a program like The Couch-to-5K® Running Plan can help you increase your distance/time gradually by combining running and walking.  Another rule of thumb is to avoid increasing your weekly mileage or weekly time spent running by more than 10 percent  (i.e.: If you run 30 minutes three times per week or 90 minutes total, try increasing to 99 minutes total the next week).

Another common mistake is starting out too fast.  All your runs should be at conversation pace, which means you can say a few words at a time to your running partner.  If you are gasping for breath, you are running too fast.  On the other hand, if you can sing you might want to pick up the pace.

A third thing to consider is to avoid changing more than one variable at a time.  If you start to increase your speed, you should not increase your distance as well.  Also, if you are used to running on a flat or soft surface like a treadmill and are transitioning to the road, you may need to decrease your distance slightly because the road will be harder and have more varied terrain.

Finally, it is very important to invest in a good pair of running shoes.  The best shoe varies for every individual and depends on many factors.  Your best bet is to visit a running specialty store.  They will analyze your gait and suggest a few options, then let you take the shoes for a test run.

Meredith Moseley, PT, DPT, works at Harrington’s Rehabilitation Department.  She is an avid runner and is currently training for the Boston Marathon.  She is also a certified running coach through Road Runners Club of America.