Running: 8 Weeks To Fitness

Words: Kerry DULIN

First, the basics. Clear it with your doctor. If it’s been several years [or, more] since you ran regularly, check with your healthcare provider just to be sure too. Pick up a pair of comfortable, quality running shoes. Sometimes just spending the bucks for a good pair of shoes is enough incentive to actually get you to use them.

You have to walk before you can run. Right now, you have nothing to prove, at least not yet, so at this time, forget about what you used to do and focus on what you are doing now, and that is walking. By walking I don’t mean a treadmill, or an elliptical trainer, but walking on the same surface that you will be jogging on. You need to get your feet, joints and muscles used to the feel and texture of the pavement. Treadmills and elliptical trainers are great, but they are low impact. Then, again, if your programme is to be a treadmill runner then by all means go for it, but this programme assumes that you will be running outdoors. Run with a partner whenever possible. Running with a partner is safer than running alone and the accountability to someone else is helpful in maintaining commitments.

The Programme

Here goes your 8 weeks to becoming a runner, again.

Week 1. Day 1. You have to walk before you can run, especially if you have been off for a while. So, this week is dedicated to walking. At this point walking should be a comfortable, but faster than your usual pace. Try to walk the course that you will be using in your routine at a modestly fast and steady pace. A good walk would be 3-4km in 30-35 minutes; this will have you moving at 4-5km an hour.

Week 1. Day 2. After day one you may be a bit sore and considering that you have nothing to prove, use your best judgment as to whether your body needs time to recover, or not. If you are okay, repeat day one, but if you are sore, don’t push yourself and call this a recovery day.

Week 1. Day 3. The same rules from day two apply. If you walked yesterday and are pretty sore today, consider this a recovery day. If not, enjoy the air and get into your distance. You may be tempted to start jogging already but do yourself a favour and get your walking time in first.

Week 1. Continued. Your goal this week is to get in 3-4 good walking sessions. If you can squeeze in more, great; but, don’t push yourself too hard.

Week 2. This is the beginning of the alternating phase. By alternating we mean walk, run, walk, and run in succession. Start by walking for five minutes at a brisk pace and then jog for a couple of minutes. Repeat this [walk for 5 minutes; jog for 2 minutes] three times. Try to get in three walk/run sessions this week.

Heart Jogging Week 3. You will be picking up the intensity a bit this week, so be sure that your shoes are up to the task. Start with your five-minute brisk walk now followed by a three-minute-jog. Repeat this walk 5 minutes/jog three-minute split for three walk/jog periods. Try to get in four sessions this week. 

Week 4. Are you sore? Some muscle soreness is to be expected, but joint soreness is another matter. Know the difference. This week you are going to walk for three minutes and jog for 5 minutes. Repeat this process four times and try to get in 3-4 sessions this week. You don’t have to push it; three is enough to do the job; and, a fourth session is okay if you can handle it and really want to.

Week 5. Walk two minutes and jog for seven minutes. You should be starting to get your ‘wind’ back at this point. Try to develop a rhythm in your steps and keep your breath in sync with that rhythm. Repeat this process three times and aim for three sessions this week.

Week 6. Walk at a brisk pace for two minutes followed by jogging for nine minutes. Repeat three times per session and again shoot for three sessions this week. You should be starting to feel like a ‘runner’ at this point.

Week 7. Walking less, jog more, you are already at week seven and hopefully loving every minute of it. Your sessions now begin with a 1-minute walk followed by a 10-minute jog. Repeat this process three times per session and again aim for three sessions this week.

Week 8. This week’s programme starts with a 5-minute walk followed with a 20-minute jog and ends with another 5-minute walk. This is the entire session. Your goal is to get in three sessions while increasing the jog time with each session. Aim for a 30-minute run by the end of the week.

Congratulations. It was just eight weeks ago, you were living in the past talking about what you used to do, and now you are actually doing it.

Don’t stop, you’re a runner now.

KERRY DULIN, a world-renowned fitness guru, first got into professional bodybuilding at age 40. He won his first bodybuilding competition at 41. Now 62, with a physique that would put someone half his age to shame, Dulin has what he calls ‘a manageable programme,’ 12+ top trophies to show for his fitness endeavours and a brace of health and fitness websites. He lives in the US [This article is published by special permission from the author. ©Kerry Dulin].

[This article was first published August 15, 2022].

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