Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nike: Returning to Running

originally posted May 01, 2009 by Coach Jay


Hi Jay, First of all, thanks for taking time to answer my question. I haven’t run in about 20 years and would like to start. I weight train 4 or 5 days a week and do about 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym. I’m in pretty good shape, but I can seem to get going, running-wise. I used to run 5k’s about 25 years ago and really enjoyed the races. How can I get started and how long should I wait to run a race? Thanks again. - - Rodney

Rodney - I'm going to use an example that may seem cliché, yet as the father of a 7 month old I see it every day; "Crawl before your walk; walk before you run." Basically, that's it; don't be afraid to walk as part of your running training, primarily because of your age and the fact that as a coach and a competitive person you're apt to do too much, too soon.

You can start with a three day cycle:

Day 1: Run easy for 15 minutes, then 15 minutes of brisk walking followed immediately by 15 minutes of general strength work.

Day 2: 30 minutes of running (a cycle of 2 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of brisk walking), then 15 minutes of general strength.

Day 3: 30 minutes of brisk walking followed by 10 minutes of easy/light general strength.

You can do this cycle twice in the first week, taking the seventh day off. The key is to keep this type of training as your running training until it feels ridiculously easy. Why? Because you ran in the past, then your heart and lungs will likely adapt before your bones, tendons and ligaments adapt, or, as my good friend and mentor Mike Smith likes to say, "Metabolic changes occur quicker than structural changes." After 8-10 weeks, you can likely move to 4-5 days a week of running, with one long walk per week.

I hope this helps Rodney and when in doubt, walk!

*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

Coach Jay coaches athletes at RunnersCoach.com and blogs at CoachJayJohnson.com. And don't forget, if you have training question for Coach Jay, email him here: coachjay@nike.com.