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How to Start Running

Stick to your New Year's resolution to get moving with these inspiring expert jogging tips.
WebMD Feature

It's New Year's resolutions time! Is there anything more inspiring to bring out the runner in you? But before you lace up your shoes and start ticking off the miles, plan to kick things off slowly if you haven't been running lately. The road does not come without risks.

"Men tend to get injuries from overdoing it," says former Olympic runner Jeff Galloway, a columnist for Runner's World magazine and author of Women's Complete Guide to Running, which he co-wrote with his wife, Barbara. "Women don't push the envelope as much when they are starting out, but because they have lower bone density, they're more prone to stress fractures."

Anna Brickhouse, 42, has been running since she was a teenager. But the English professor and mother of two boys in Charlottesville, Va., effectively became a new runner after returning from a three-month trip in 2007. "Transitioning back into running with my group, I found it hard to keep up at first. Getting back into it was a process," she says.

Starting to Run Again

How to get back into the race? Start with your diet. To fuel a run, Galloway recommends keeping well hydrated by drinking at least 8 ounces of nonalcoholic liquid eight times a day and eating a small, sugar-boosting snack 30 minutes before you head out. He suggests half of an energy bar or a sports drink.

These days, Brickhouse logs anywhere from 18 to 23 miles a week. For her, running is the ideal way to stay in shape and keep connected with friends. "Women tend to respond better to running in groups," Galloway says. "It's very powerful for women; it helps keep them motivated."

Men, however, often run on their own. Galloway cautions them not to get overly enthusiastic early on. "Men who have not done any real exercise in 20 years and suddenly decide to run like they did in high school -- that's a formula for disaster."

The Walk-Run Ratio

Galloway, who works with runners at all ages and levels, teaches a technique that lets the body ease into its new type of motion. Beginning runners, he says, should run for 5 to 10 seconds out of every minute, walking the rest of each minute. Gradually, the walk/run ratio will shift as your muscles strengthen and your joints adjust.

Even in the beginning, when the bulk of your run time is spent walking, you are still getting a good workout. "Walking is the best cross-training," Galloway says. "And a lot of people progress to marathons in just six months."

Running Rules

Here are a few of runner Jeff Galloway's tips to keep you on the run and off the injured list.

Go for gain, not pain. "Follow the huff and puff rule: If you are huffing and puffing at the end of a run, you have overdone it," says Galloway, who advises a slow and easy approach to running. "The bottom line: You need to monitor your aches and pains."

Avoid runner's lows. Done incorrectly, running can cause a lot of discomfort and even injury, says Galloway. "People get discouraged and feel they are not designed for running. Really, they just need to correct their walk/run ratio [until it feels right]."

Run through it. Galloway and his wife have written two running books for women. "We went through a list of concerns with physicians and ob-gyns, such as menopause, PMS, and pregnancy," says Galloway. "Women can run through all of these things, though they will likely have to make individual adjustments to their routine."

Reviewed on June 19, 2013

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