New year, new start for fitness: 7 tips to get back into running

A new year means a chance for a new start to fitness. This week I’ll be offering tips to get you started off on the right foot in 2011 and today here are five tips to get back into running.
Whether you were once in good running shape, or are trying to get on a program for the first time, getting start is the hardest part. But it’s also important to have knowledge to avoid hurdles that can sidetrack you along the way.
1. Build gradually – The easiest way to get stuck in park is to suffer an injury right out of the starting gate. Start out slowly and gauge how your body is responding. If you are tired or muscles feel cramped after running for only 5 or 10 minutes, then stop running and walk. Another good idea is to do interval training, in which you run for 5 or 10 minutes and then walk for 5 minutes. Try to go non-stop for 20 minutes, mixing in as much walking as you need to.
I would highly recommend adding a treadmill to your home gym to give yourself a consistent place to train day or night, regardless of weather outside. Treadmill work can be supplemented by mixing in outdoor runs.
2. Sophomore jinx – Don’t be surprised if after a week or two, you actually feel worse than when you first started. That’s natural as it’s part of the process of your muscles adapting to the new demands being put on them.
You muscles will be fresh and adrenaline will be kicking in when you first start a running program, but that can quickly be replaced by added soreness. Work through general soreness, but stop and see a doctor if pain is severe.
3. Schedule time for fitness – People schedule appointments for health care, pet care, having work done on the house, getting their hair cut, visiting with friends, etc. Doesn’t your own physical well-being deserve priority?
4. One-month guarantee – Promise yourself that you’ll work out regularly over a 30-day period. Even if you practically have to drag yourself to the treadmill or running track, do it. After 30 days of doing something regularly it will become a habit. With planning going for a run will become second nature and something there’s a good chance you’ll even look forward to.
5. Set goals, write them down – Set goals that you want to achieve and keep a running log. This will help give your workouts some order and chart progress, while also setting goals to reach
6. Work up to a 5K – The common benchmark for being in decent running shape is to be able to complete a 5K run (3.1 miles). Many communities offer 5K runs, check your local newspaper’s sports section, or look for races to be advertised online or in running magazines.
7. Compete against yourself – In the long run, the only person you really need to compete against is yourself. Work to maintain consistency and improve your times and distances.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at

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