On a track, one lap equals a quarter of a mile.
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You want to get into running, but you're not sure where to start. Because you don't need a lot of equipment or fancy clothing, you don't need to overthink this -- just get started. If you're making time to run just twice a week, that's a great start, and it will help you get on the road toward a healthier body and a more toned physique. Provided you're running for the right amount of time, it will also help you stay within the exercise guidelines set out by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. As with any type of exercise, however, be sure to get the thumbs up from your doctor before starting a new routine.
First off, you're not going to stick to this routine unless you make time for it in a formal way. If you keep a paper or electronic calendar, block out a 30-minute span of time on the two days a week you've chosen, and then don't schedule anything over that time -- and don't let your secretary do it either. Then get a small notebook and write "Running Log" boldly on the front. After each run, make notes of the date, the number of minutes you ran, the route you used and how you felt. This can help you learn what works for you and what doesn't as you consult the notes over time.
Where to Go
You have the time blocked out -- now it's time to actually hit the road. When you start out, you're not really going to know how far you can actually go, so you might consider finding a public track in your area to start out. That way you can track your exact number of miles -- if you want to -- as well as stop whenever you want, without being really far from home. The other option: run around the same few blocks in your neighborhood so you're close by when you want to stop running.
Now's the time to put on a pair of running shoes, or some basic cross-trainers if that's all you have for now, and start your warm-up. A warm-up will slowly get your heart beating faster and deliver more oxygen to your muscles, so do that before you do any type of stretching. Walk for about five minutes or until you've broken a light sweat. Then simply start running or jogging at a pace you can live with -- no need to sprint or go really fast. Practice proper form by bending your elbows at about 90 degrees, moving them forward near your shoulders and then back behind you near your hips. When you move a leg forward, aim to land on your midfoot instead of the heel or toes. Keep running as long as you can, aiming to go for about 20 minutes. Go slow, or even walk for a few minutes when you need to. "Runner's World" recommends newbies run for one minute and then walk for two the first week.
If you managed to run and/or walk for the full 20 minutes, congratulations! Finish it with a five-minute cool-down walk and pat yourself on the back for making it. Repeat the process on the second day of the week, and continue doing the run-walk cadence until you manage to run or jog for the entire 20 minutes. After two or three weeks, add five minutes to your running time, which will require you to block out at least 35 minutes of time on your calendar. Every three weeks, add five minutes until you're running for about 40 minutes at a stretch. It's OK to walk anytime you feel like it -- this is your journey, not anyone else's. When you're jogging for 40 minutes, two days a week, you'll be well within the HHS guidelines to do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise -- which includes running or jogging -- each week.