When you’re just getting started on a fitness journey, running may seem like a feat for ultra athletes. But if you’ve been walking for awhile, and you’re ready to take your workouts to the next level, a few simple modifications can ease you into moving at a faster clip. Try these 5 easy steps, and before you know it you’ll be one of those crazy people in bright sneakers crossing a finish line!
Step 1: Strive for consistency Before transitioning from walking to running, you’ll want to make sure you’ve been working out regularly. Mileage consistency will set you up for continued fitness improvement, and even seasoned runners agree it’s one of the best tools for staying in shape. If your walking routine has been on and off, make it a point to commit to walking a set number of days per week or a certain total distance each week. (Consider setting a goal in RunKeeper to hold yourself accountable!) Think about smart ways to work walking into your day—even when you schedule is hectic. Walk to the store for small errands instead of driving, get off the bus a few stops early, or walk around the parking lot on your lunch break.
Step 2: Increase the distance Once you’ve got the consistency piece down, push yourself to ramp up the distance. Add an extra mile or two to one of your walks each week. (Runners typically schedule their long runs on weekends.) Try to keep up the same pace you do on your shorter walks, and be sure to track the extra distance you’re doing to get a better sense of how many calories you’ve burned and how you’re feeling after those miles. Worried about getting bored? Bring a family member or furry friend along to keep you company, or download a good podcast.
Step 3: Up the intensity Once your body acclimates to the extra miles, add some intensity to your walks. Throw some steep hills into your routes—the climb will get your heart rate up, improve your stamina, and build your leg muscles. Stronger legs and increased endurance are the makings of any great runner! If you live in a hill-free area, take to the treadmill and up the incline.
Step 4: Add in running intervals Here comes the fun! Most runners start their journey with what’s known as the run-walk-run method. Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of walking, then try running at an easy to moderate pace for 2 to 3 minutes. Depending on your comfort level, take a walking break of equal or more time, and then repeat until you complete your desired distance—2 miles is a good length for this workout. As you get more comfortable with these workouts, increase the time of the running intervals, and decrease the walking breaks.
Step 5: Find a plan Now that you’ve dipped your toes into this running thing, consider finding a plan to push you further down the path. There are tons of introductory running plans thatwill help put all of these things together: consistent weekly schedules, more intense workouts, longer distances, and running intervals. Programs like “Couch to 5K” and “Beginner to Finish” are all good, and you can easily load them into the RunKeeper app to set your workout schedule and receive audio cues when you’re hitting the pavement.