How to Transition from Walking to Running

Add running intervals to your walking workouts

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I encourage every walker I train to include some jogging/running in his or her exercise program, and here is why:

  • Jogging works different muscles than walking, even at the same speeds.
  • Jogging gives a heavy body a reason to start becoming lean.
  • Jogging makes you more efficient at walking.
  • Jogging will contribute to bone density.

Preparing for Jogging

You do not have to be thin or medium-weight to jog. Even very overweight people can become joggers.

To prepare your body for jogging:

  • Get running shoes.
  • Wear workout attire, not street clothes.
  • Drink 8 ounces of water before your training session, and sip every 15 minutes during the session, and then drink 8 ounces after.

Running Helps Promote Leanness

I mentioned previously that jogging gives a body a reason to slim down. If you've been stuck at the same weight, despite commitment to walking (and even weight lifting), then introducing your body to jogging may be just what it needs to reinstate fat-burning. You see, a lean body is more efficient at swift movement than is a heavy body. So if you add jogging to your exercise plan, it will "force" your body to become lighter so that it can better manage the new training stimulus.

During primitive times, when people literally had to run for survival, being overweight was virtually unheard of. The human machine had no choice but to be lean. With modern living conditions, the body no longer has to be lean to survive.

Thus, obesity is epidemic, and many other people struggle with 20 or 30 pounds of extra weight.

We Are Built for Running

The human machine was built for running. How else could we have survived as a species? Deep down inside, your body wants to run. It has forgotten how. You can change this, even if you have a lot of weight to lose, or even if a simple trot wipes you out in only minutes.

So as you begin preparing your body for jogging, remind yourself that no matter how awkward and tiring it may be, your body was meant to run!

Ease into Jogging with Intervals

Whether you use a treadmill (keep hands off the handrails!), indoor track, or outdoor path, you can apply the principle of interval training. Simply, this alternates jogging with walking. The jogs may be for only one minute, while the walking may be for a little longer. For poorly conditioned people, I recommend a one-two-minute jog at a slow pace, switching back and forth with a two-minute walk. Go for 30 minutes.

For more fit walkers, you can use the same interval times, but choose a jogging speed that gets you winded. Or, you can jog for longer intervals. I recommend intervals for the first few weeks because even a fit walker can get blisters, inner-thigh chafing burn from skin rubbing, ankle soreness or shin soreness if he or she jogs for too long at the beginning.

Increase Your Jogging Time

Do the intervals for a few weeks, and then if you feel up to it, jog nonstop for 15 minutes.

Tack on five minutes with every session until you reach the length of time you normally devote to cardio.

For more out-of-shape individuals, just keep on doing the intervals. Strive to either increase jogging time a little bit with each session. Or, keep the same time (one or two minutes), but increase the speed with each session. At some point, you will feel ready to sustain a jog for 10 or more minutes. Build up from there.

A significantly overweight person can teach his or her body to sustain a jog for 30 minutes. It may be only 3 mph, but remember, different muscles are being worked. The joints are becoming stronger than ever. And the body is being prepared for faster running in the future. As you become more jogging-fit, go ahead and add inclines or hills.

Becoming a jogger doesn't mean you must give up walking. But adding jogging to some of your walking sessions, or replacing some walking days with jogging, will add dimension to your fitness program by elevating your orthopedic health, and adding zest to your workouts.

Preventing Injuries When You Start Running

Before you begin any jogging, walk first for five minutes to warm up your muscles and joints. Then spend five minutes stretching your hamstrings and calves. Then resume your walking and start adding the jogging intervals. After the session, stretch again for 10 minutes.

Another muscle to work on, to prevent injuries, is the anterior tibialis, located at the front of the lower leg. Walking slowly on your heels for a minute or two will stimulate this muscle. Another way to work it is to sit in a chair and flex your feet so that you're trying to bring your toes toward your knees. Hold the flexed position for a few seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.

More: Beginner's Guide to Running

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