How to set up a running program:

Do you want to start a running program, but aren’t sure how to do it? Here are a few simple tips to get started toward reaching a variety of goals.

Whether you want to run to lose weight, improve your muscle tone, are thinking of entering a local 5 or 10K, or all of the above, becoming a good runner isn’t as hard as you might think.

1. Get a good pair of shoesNo matter what your fitness level, getting a good pair of shoes is a must before running. If you’ve had foot, ankle or Achilles problems, it’s a good idea to talk to a specialty shoe store about shoes, and possibly options for inserts or special insoles. Insoles actually helped me get over Achilles’ tendonitis that had limited my running for several years. If the pain persists, you should of course talk to a doctor.
2. Set up a seven-day programWhether it’s weight training, biking, swimming, or in this case, running, it’s best to set up a program where a hard training day is followed by a lighter day. This allows for a pattern of training hard and then a lighter day to recover. When you work muscles hard, they need to rest before training hard again.

3. Here’s a sample running program (fill in the time an distance based on your fitness level)

* Monday – Run at a comfortable pace, but not too far

* Tuesday – Hard workout day, start out at a casual pace and then work up to at least 1-2 miles of faster running.

* Wednesday – Recovery day – go for a light jog. Get the heart rate going a little, but not too hard. Enjoy the scenery.

* Thursday – Increase the distance workout – run 2-3 miles farther than you’re used to

* Friday – Take the day off from running, but feel free to mix in another form of exercise like a bike ride or swim

* Saturday – Big workout day – chances are you’re off of work and have some extra time. Go for at least 8-10 miles, but you might need to really train for weeks or months to work up to this distance. Go shorter if that’s all you can do, like 4-6 miles.

* Sunday – off

If a Saturday is booked for you, then once you’ve been training for a while you could work the longer run in on Tuesdays or Thursdays. If you want to mix in weight training, vary which days you work out certain body parts.

Running can be a great way to get in shape and stay there. You may be able to finish a local road race, or even earn a ribbon or medal. At the least, you’ll certainly be able to quickly get away from that weird neighbor who always tries to talk to you on your road. Good luck.