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The reluctant runner’s guide to learning how to run

For those who've thought in recent days, "Do I have to become a runner?"

Running is becoming one of the few viable exercise options for Canadians over the next couple weeks. Gyms and recreation centres are either closing or have already closed. Because of this, access to pools, courts and weight rooms are limited, if not impossible.

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For an active person, the inability to exercise feels terrible. Also, it’s been shown that light to moderate activity is good for stress reduction and boosting the immune system–a double win during this challenging time. If you’re a person who’s no longer able to do your sport or activity of choice, you might find yourself considering going for a run for the first time in years. Welcome to the running team, we’re happy to have you. Here’s how you can get started.

The reluctant runner’s guide to learning how to run

Brittany Moran is a marathoner, coach and chiropractor who loves helping people get into running and cultivate enjoyment of the sport. Moran has several steps for how people should start running, because as avid runners know, running is hard in the beginning.

Step one – adjust expectations

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New runners need to keep in mind that running is hard. So don’t let your first few runs discourage you from continuing. Moran encourages new runners to just embrace being outside and embrace the experience and to avoid putting pressure on it.

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Step two – make realistic goals

Moran recommends runners start with a minute walk, minute run program. “Alternate walking and running for about 20 minutes. If you want to make your workout a little longer, add five minutes of walking on the end to bring your outing to a total of 30 minutes.”

Step three – slowly increase your distance

Moran says the worst thing a person can do is too much, too soon. With that in mind, she says runners should start by running every other day, and punctuate those runs with walks.

“For the runs, progress to 12 by one minute on, one minute off. By the time you’re able to do 15 minutes of walk/run, progress to two minutes on, two minutes off. Keep the total amount of time the same but change the interval.”

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Step four – your first full run

Moran says, once runners don’t feel like they need the walk break anymore, to progress to a steadier run. This doesn’t need to be 20 minutes at a time, but could be in intervals of five minutes, for example, with a minute walk in between.

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Step five – add some strength training

Finally, new runners (and all runners) are encouraged to not make running their only form of activity. Switch up your routine with a bodyweight circuit instead of a run. Moran also encouraged runners to stretch post-workout, because, especially if they’re new to the sport, they’re going to be sore.