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This Live Well post is the second guest post from my lovely and talented friend Lindsay Goodridge.

So, you’re off the couch. Now what?!

You could take a class, you could bike, swim, run, walk. The latter all being free! I like to run – it’s versatile, you can take it everywhere. I’ve explored many cities while traveling by going for a run. While swimming and biking are great for your body, running can be a little more challenging to start.

Embarking on a running program can be intimidating. It doesn’t really feel like the most elegant, motivating exercise when you’re beginning. Watching yourself improve as a runner, however,  is one of the most inspirational fitness accomplishments I’ve witnessed in myself and others. It’s tangible. It’s measureable. You start off slow and discombobulated on your first run (everyone does) – it can feel like one of those dreams where you’re hoping to run fast and fluid, but when you go to run, your limbs aren’t doing anything that you’re telling them to. Then one day you’ve run 5 minutes straight! And then you’re finishing a 5km run –  and you’ve ran the whole thing! Then a 10km run or a ½ marathon!  Or even a marathon!

If you’re going to start a running program it’s important to take care of your body. I’ve led running clinics in the past as well as trained myself, and here are some suggestions you might find helpful.

  1. See a physiotherapist or a fitness trainer to get some exercises to strengthen your core. Running is a high impact activity, and an instability or a malalignment can lead to issues in other parts of your body. That being said, once you get into it, running is a great way to maintain your core.
  2. Get the right shoes! Just as a trainer can help you avoid injuries, so can the right shoes. Go to a running specialty store, they’ll help you figure out what sort of shoe will fit your gait. Plus, you’ll feel awesome in new shoes! If you feel awesome in your gear, you’re more likely to wear it… and sitting on the couch in your new running gear just looks a little ridiculous (not to say it hasn’t been done!)
  3. Start slowly. You can push yourself later. You need to start slowly and let your body adjust. If you’ve never run before, give yourself a month or two sticking to a walk-run program like the Vancouver Sun Run’s Learn to Run program which is endorsed by SportsMed BC. Modify it as you see fit. Listen to your body. Push when you can, and take care of it when it needs you to.
  4. Stretch. Take care of your muscles. Build in your workouts with time to stretch. (I struggle with this one, but it’s part of my New Years resolution so let’s work together on this!)
  5. Run every other day. Try not to run on consecutive days. This gives your body a chance to recover. As I mentioned, running is considered a high-impact activity. That means that there is a lot of pressure going through your bones, muscles and joints.  They need time to repair themselves and grow stronger between runs.
  6. Find a buddy. Even if it’s just someone that’s excited for you to start running!  They don’t have to run with you, but it helps to have a cheering section. Also, if you’ve told someone that you’re going to run a 5km run by March, then there’s a much higher chance of accomplishing your goal – and getting off the couch!

So, taking that to heart. Try a 1 minute run with a 4 minute walk and see how it feels.  Aim for 6 cycles of that. It doesn’t have to be a huge workout.  It just has to get you off the couch!

I’d love to hear your questions!

Good Luck!

You can find other posts in the Live Well series here.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2013