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Fitness Basics: Running for Your Life

Experts offer advice to get you started.
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"When I first started," recalls Scott, "Julie said, 'Do you think you can run for 15 minutes?' I said, 'Are you kidding me?'

"I ran about 45 seconds. I was amazed at how little I could do." But he plugged through it.

"The first two weeks are difficult," Isphording warns. "Getting out the door is the hardest thing ever. Once you get past that, then you get it, your body starts feeling good and wants to go out and play."

To keep your body feeling good during your runs, our experts offer these tips:

  • While you're running, be sure you can pass the "talk test": You should still be able to carry on a conversation. Keep your pace comfortable so you won't burn out too quickly. "It's much better to run too slow than too fast," Isphording says.
  • Instead of tracking the miles you run, count time. "Don't get caught up in measuring distance, and that you ran faster than yesterday. Go for time," Isphording says.
  • As you build up past 20 minutes, be sure to stay hydrated. This is especially important during the warm-weather months. "Know where the water is, where the park is, where the gas station is -- or you can stash water along your route ahead of time," Isphording says.
  • In addition to running, do strength training to build muscle and bone density and protect against injury. A 20-minute strength workout a couple of times a week is all you need. To get started, get a personal trainer to write out a program you can do at home -- or get a video.
  • Save stretching for after your run, when your muscles are warm. Stretching cold muscles increases the risk for injury.

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