Are you thinking of starting a running program? Congrats, you are on the right thinking track.

Running can help you get into the best shape of your life because you can do it almost anywhere anytime. All you need is a pair of good running shoes, a good fitness watch (ok you don’t neeeeed this but I find it really helps!) and off you go for a killer workout.

But if you are really out of shape and/or have never run before, then starting out is tricky. In fact, the high impact nature of this sport can take a toll on your body (and mind) if you don’t start on the right foot.

Nevertheless, don’t fret yet.

Today I’m sharing with you the exact training steps you need to take in order to start running right, stay injury free, and keep it up for the long haul.

So without further ado, here are the 5 steps you need to take to start and keep an injury-free running program.

Build it up with walking

In order to run, you have to walk first. And this is key if you are new comer to the sport of running.

The walking will help you lay the endurance foundation you need to make the transition to running with the least amount of trouble – provided that you are willing to invest the time and some effort into it.

So start out your training program with some consistent walks first. Do 20 to 30 minutes walks the first few weeks, three times per week, then slowly work it up to 60 minutes walks at a brisk pace by week 4 or 5.

Once you are comfortable walking for 60 minutes without much trouble, then and only then you can take it to the next level: add segments of running into the walks.

Add Running intervals

After two, four , or even six of week of regular walking, you should be fit enough to pick up the pace by adding a few 10 to 20 seconds of running intervals, every two to three minutes, into your walks. This will definitely raise your heart rate up, but it won’t be putting too much stress on your body.

So make sure to run/walk at least three times per week with one rest day between sessions. The length and intensity of the running intervals depends, mostly, on your fitness level first, then fitness goals second. Your body’s feedback is the ultimate judge here, so do the wise thing and keep listening to it and act accordingly.

Lengthen the running

Once you are able to alternate between 30-seconds of running and one to two minutes of walking for 20 minutes, then start running a little longer.

Keep increasing your running time until you can 30 to 40 minutes of running at a time, three days a week.

To make sure you are doing it right, you shouldn’t be feeling sore or completely worn out at the end of your sessions. Instead you should feel like you still have energy left in the tank and could have done more rounds if you wanted to.

Take your running to the next level

After gaining enough endurance to run straight for 30 minutes without stopping you should pat yourself on the back because now, in my book, you are officially a runner. But it’s not the end of the road here. You are basically faced with two options:

You can stay within your current training intensity and decide to not push it (this will eventually lead to boredom and training plateaus). Or, you could choose to take your running to the next level (I strongly urge you to do so because that’s when real change starts to happen).

You can basically take your running to the next level by doing the following:

  • Gradually increase your running time to 60 to 90 minutes by following the 10 percent rule.
  • Sign for up for a 5K or 10K race
  • Start doing intervals and fartleks
  • Embrace the hills

Injury proof your runs

Injury are runners worst enemy so do your best to stay injury free for the long haul. Good news is you can do that by following some simple and straightforward rules. And here are few:

  • Keep a keen eye (and ear) on your body throughout your runs and afterwards. The feedback you get from your body is vital, so use it wisely.
  • Make sure to take plenty of recovery days especially when you start feeling that you are venturing into overtraining land. Burnouts will only make you a bitter runner, so avoid them at all costs.
  • Practice good running form at all time. Be sure to run as tall as possible, breathe deep, keep your body relaxed the entire time.
  • Make recovery a priority so have plenty of quality sleep, take care of your nutrition and feel free to back off from running in the incident of injury. If you are injured, stop. No need to make it worse.

Kit out your run:

running post copy 4

Gadgets: If you can’t record or track your run, did it even happen…? My solution is the new Swatch Touch Zero One, sure they come in a range of colours from modest black to bright (male/female), but you can dig a little deeper post run with the Swatch Touch Zero One App for extra info and statistics – including calories burned, the average hit power, the ability to count your steps, distance traveled and activity time – all on your wrist. The App also gives you a graphical activity overview: how many steps walking vs. how many running, 31-day step counter memory. I particularly like that there is a ‘coach’, the guy who motivates and rewards you with an ice cream cone if you reach your daily step goal (hey I work on rewards) and the closer you get, the bigger the ice cream! To spur you on, the App lets you choose between 3 built-in coaches with different personalities and motivational styles: LAZY DUDE, TOUGH GUY or SUPERHERO.

Wear: As mentioned above, correct running shoes is a must. Get a pro fit for your unique foot and running needs over style. For example if you have never run, don’t choose a Nike Free for your first running shoe, rather, go for something with a little more stability. Your ankle will thank you for it. I’m digging the two colour-ways Nike Air Zoom Structure 19, sure they look cool… but there is a whole bunch of research behind the range. From the flymesh upper to the triple density foam midsole, they give plenty of support and the response you need for a smooth, stable ride that feels extra fast.

Hydrate: tick the hydration box and protein box in one go post run with Raw C’s new diary free coconut water with cacao powder and protein. And it tastes good. #winning

And that’s it for now folks.

Happy running.

About the Author

* David Dack is an avid runner and fitness enthusiast. He is a regular contributor to some of the major fitness magazines and websites. For more tips go to his blog Runner Blueprint.

* Kit Out The Run by Lee Sutherland