If you think running increases your risk of osteoarthritis, think again.
Researchers found that recreational runners have a lower risk for knee and hip arthritis than people who sit most of the day. The key to going from sitting on the couch to running a 5K without pain is to build up to it. Follow a running program and use these tips to pound the pavement safely.
Take It Easy
The goal is to develop a running routine you can maintain for years to come. You can’t always prevent running injuries, but you can reduce your risk of experiencing an injury.
When you first start running, take these steps:
- Walk, don’t run. Every good running routine starts slowly. In fact, you should start by walking. Once you can walk quickly for 30 minutes at a time, five days a week, you’re ready to start running.
- Speed things up. After building up a little stamina, mix in some running. When out for your 30-minute walk, keep a timer on hand. Run for one- or two-minute periods, then go back to walking for a few minutes. Over a period of weeks, increase the time you run and decrease your walk breaks.
- Minutes over miles. At first, don’t sweat speed or distance. Work to run for longer periods of time each day. As your body adjusts to running for longer periods of time, you’ll run faster for longer distances.
- Swap things up. Beginner runners and experienced runners benefit from cross-training. On top of your running routine, do strength training or other non-running activities. This strengthens your body in ways that running doesn’t, helping reduce the risk of stress fractures and other injuries.
Dress for Success
To stick with a regular running program, you need to be comfortable. That means wearing the right gear. Consider the following before hitting the road:
- Clothing. Keep as dry and comfortable as possible with a moisture-wicking shirt. Running shorts with a small pocket help you move easily and keep your key or other essential items on hand. A supportive sports bra helps women stay comfortable mile after mile.
- Shoes. Get a pair of running shoes built to run where you want to go, whether on the road, track or trail. If shoes are uncomfortable in the store, they’ll be uncomfortable when you’re running.
Choosing a Running Program
Today, there are a lot of running programs to choose from. Find one that meets your needs and stick with it.
A couple of popular running programs include:
- 30/30. The 30/30 method is a running plan for your first 30 days. Start with 30 minutes of walking a day, 30 days in a row. During the first 10 minutes and the last 5 minutes, walk. For the other minutes, alternate between walking and jogging in 30-second increments. At first, you may need to walk longer than 30 seconds to recover. That’s fine. There are many benefits of walking, so walk as long as you need.
- Couch to 5K. Used by many new runners, Couch to 5K prepares you to run a 5K in just six weeks. As with the 30/30 plan, Couch to 5K has you alternating between walking and running during each workout. Smartphone apps guide you toward the finish line.