Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mileage is an item that all runners, from the newbie to the most experience, that is hard to determine what is the right amount? I have never run more than 50 miles in any given week anytime in my running experience, so if you’re an elite athlete that puts in 4000 miles plus each year, I can’t give you any advice.

But for anyone else, it depends where you are at with your running experience. This blog will cover those of you that are getting back into running or those of you getting started.

If you are getting started, or haven’t run in over 3 months, you should get started slowly. What do I mean by slowly? It means go by time, not by distance. Start with 20 minutes. Either run very slowly or try run-walking. Jeff Galloway has a program for starting runners as well as for marathoners, where his students run 4 minutes with a one minute walking break. Bonnie (my wife) and I do this on our easy runs as well as on our long runs (more than 5 miles or more than one hour). Does it help us get faster? Probably not, but it helps us recover a lot quicker. The last thing you want to do when you get started or are coming back after a long layoff, is to run long or hard enough to get you dreading the next run.

The goal in running, write this one down, is to keep running. Not every day, not without stopping, not without walking, not to the point of injury and not without totally wearing yourself out to the point of hating the thought of putting your running shoes on again.

If this means you have to take longer walking breaks, that you run every other day, or even every third day, you do it. Again, as I mentioned before, it’s consistency that’s important. Not speed, not distance, not an everyday commitment. As long as you keep running, you are meeting your first goal, to stay with it.

So how much is enough? For first time runners, remember that Dr. Kenneth Cooper in his book Aerobics said that anything more than 15 miles a week in aerobic conditioning, is for a goal beyond than keeping fit. Another rule says that 20 minutes, 3 times a week is the minimum. Let’s simplify and say 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week. And if you think I mean running, that’s not necessary. If you are getting started, walking is fine. Start running when you get tired of walking.

Here’s a secret that I don’t see advertised enough. Whether you run or walk a mile, you burn the same amount of calories. I going to repeat that as encouragement for any of you that believe you read that wrong. Whether you run or walk a mile, you burn the same amount of calories. New runners/walkers have a hard time getting their head around that fact. A 200 pound runner that can finish a mile in 5 minutes (that I would like to see) burns 136 calories. If he/she runs it in 10 minutes, he/she would burn… yep, 136 calories. Want to guess how many calories they burn if they can walk a mile in 15 minutes?

So with distance, it doesn’t matter if you run or walk it, you burn the same amount of calories. So again, remember, just stay with it. If you need to take a break by walking, remember, that you when you do finish, you burned the same amount of calories as any runner that weighs the same and went the same distance.

NEXT: How many miles for the experienced runner?

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