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The Old Run-Around

March 5th, 2009

It's that time of year again. Well, it is for those living in cold climates who choose to hibernate during the winter months anyways.

It's the time of year when semi-avid runners plot their return to the streets, tracks and trails. And let’s face it, at least a little plotting is necessary. If a runner's mileage has been scaled back for several months, or hasn't continued at all it’s going to take some work to get back into top running form. Even if the total amount of running stayed close to the same, and the road was simply replaced with a treadmill, there’s work to be done. We're not talking marathoners here, just simple folks who want to transition from walking to running, or add a few miles to their routine.

Since I’m one of those summer warriors whose ambition goes out the window when the temperature drops, I too realize I need a strategy if I’m going to be up and running this summer. I hate to admit it, but last year was supposed to be my “summer of running” where I'd finally break the 10 minute mark and transform my usual run/walk intervals into one fluid running workout. The biggest problem last year…I started too late. When I finally began making decent progress the fun races were over and the running group numbers had tapered off. Besides, in the middle of the summer it’s much too hot to run unless you do it before the sun rises. Ya I know, lame excuse.

To make things simple on myself, and the rest of you, I’ve devised a checklist of things to do so we can both meet our running goals this summer. Here are the first three tips:

1. Start now - As soon as the snow is off the sidewalks, get your butt off the couch and strap on a pair of running shoes.

2. Start slowly - This may seem like bad advice to the over-achievers out there but it’s important for those who haven’t had much running success in the past. As an example of how it works, you would go for a 29 minute walk and add one minute of easy jogging. The next time out, add another 30 seconds or a minute of jogging. When you feel ready add a few more minute-long jogs during your walk. Your joints will be able to gradually prepare themselves to deal with the stress of running and your lungs will thank you too. As a general rule, don’t increase the time or intensity of your run more than 10 percent a week. And keep track of your progress.

3. Map it out - If time isn’t the most important factor, you need to find out how far you’re going. Gmaps Pedometer is a great way to do this. You can increase the distance you're running at each workout and see yourself get that much closer to your goal.

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