Have you decided to get off the couch and become a runner? Buy a pair of running shoes and start pounding the pavement to shed the kilograms and get fit for summer, right? It’s a great idea, and running is a very time effective way to improve your fitness and improve your health.
So how far should I run?
You google some beginner’s running plans and start one of the hundreds that are out there on the web. Most of them have a catchy name and they should all start you on a variation of a walk/run interval session, where you walk for a certain time, then run for a certain time for 20-30 minutes or so a few times a week.
This is all sound advice, it’s the same approach we use on our Walk-to-run progression program you can download HERE.
But, did you know that research has shown us there’s a distance you shouldn’t exceed in your first week’s running, especially if you are carrying some extra weight. Have a guess the maximum distance you should run in your first week to minimise your risk of getting injured?
It’s three kilometres. Yep, Three.
A research project in Denmark followed 1000 Novice runners during a 12-month beginners’ run program. One paper from this project showed that those who had a BMI* greater than 30 and ran more than 3km in their first week had twice the risk of an injury in the first 3 weeks than those who weighed less and ran less than 3km in week one.
So what do we take away from this:
- Running is not fast walking; the loads are significantly higher. You should very slowly increase your running distance from a very low baseline to start with.
- You can also reduce your injury risk when starting a running program by improving your body composition and aiming for a BMI<30 before you start running
So how do you start without increasing your injury risk? Break your running into small chunks with walk breaks. Our Walk-Run program has you running for 1 minute at a time with 5-minute breaks between intervals and for a total of 15 minutes in Week One.
If you can run more than 3km in that 15 minutes in your first week, then you are doing 5 minutes per km, and should be coaching me how to run, not doing a novice program! So unless you are a natural runner, or pushing yourself way too hard, you should stay under the 3km ceiling in our first week.
Next week we’ll go through how fast, or slow, you should be running in your first few months of running.