From Walker to Runner: 7 Tips For Making the Transition

© Martinmark |

© Martinmark |

1) Start slowly

Incorporate running into your regular walking. For instance, if you are walking 30 minutes a day four times a week, try adding in one minute of running for every nine minutes of walking. Break it up over the workout to make it more manageable. Increase a minute each week until you are able to run comfortably for 30 minutes.

2) Register for a race

Give yourself a goal to work towards with a race on the calendar. Even if you cannot run the entire way, a race is a great opportunity to put your new skills to work. Plus, it will help motivate you to stay on track each week. Choose a walker-friendly 5K — most towns and cities offer at least a few throughout the year.

3) Manage aches

If you notice new pains after incorporating running into your walking, try to determine if you are just sore or actually injured. Some soreness is to be expected as you test new muscle groups, but it should never be painful. Make sure you keep major muscle groups in the legs and hips loose with dynamic stretches a few times a week.

4) Shoe smarts

Get fitted at a local running store for running shoes if transitioning from walking to running. Proper running shoes might be pricey, but a great fitting shoe is an essential piece of equipment. Don’t buy a pair of shoes because a friend likes them or you love the color — shoes are as unique as feet and no two are built the same.

5) Embrace the awkward

If you are transitioning from walking to running, it can take months before you feel fluid. Everything that once felt normal will feel really hard. When should I breathe? Where do I put my arms? When did 60 seconds ever feel so long? It’s going to get hard before it gets easier. Try to relax your body as much as possible.

6) Find your pace

If you cannot string together more than a few words at a time, you are going too fast. On the flip side, if you are able to sing multiple lines of insert-your-song-of-choice, you might be going to slow.

Though it might be frustrating in the beginning, stick on the slower side as you build up your endurance. Not only will this help keep injury at bay, but you are far more likely to stick with it if it doesn’t seem impossible.

7) Run, recover, rest

Reduce your mileage and/or time by ⅓ every 4 weeks. Take an extra complete rest day or reduce your overall mileage/time each day you workout during that fourth week. This prevents burnout and gives legs a new sense of freshness.

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