Thursday, March 6, 2014

My walking, jogging and running experience

I weighed myself in January and I was way over my target weight. Rather I had gained 6 lbs in 4 months since I stopped tracking my weight back in October. Last year  walked for few months to lose some weight and it returned results and geared up to start walking this year as well. I think I may have had a walk or two and then I saw Sanjeev has started blog about Fit Indian Run. Although I was not,and not sure even if I am, a big fan for running I was kind of slightly interested reading the blog. I had known Sanjeev and was surprised to see that Sanjeev had run 100's of miles with pace of under 11 min per mile. I had never been a runner. Although I do walk at a brisk pace and I could run quick small distances but running for distances like miles was impossible for me and it still is. In last month or so I have increased my running time but I still mix running, jogging and walking.

Since I started new so I have some inputs which may be helpful for beginners. Its easy to start and even get motivated for few days, but real challenge comes on how to stay motivated and injury free for a longer lasting experience. I am listing down things which helped me start and are helping me stay motivated so far.

If you read any articles or blogs on running the first recommendation to start running is buy a new pair of shoes. I feel need for new shoes is not to start big bang on running but regular shoes that you have been wearing would have adjusted their shape based on your walking habits. For example my regular shoes wear down from the outer side of the heel. Worn out shoes may put your feet in uncomfortable positions based on how much they are out of shape. Getting new shoes will ensure that your shoes get adjusted based on how you run not based on how you walk on a day to day basis.

Second important thing to start is to measure your performance over time. Idea is to compare your performance over time and not to compare your performance with others. I will come to it later but I feel like comparing your performance with others leads you to push yourself outside your limits and makes you feel uncomfortable or even may get you injured. There are lot of mobile apps in the market to measure your distance, time, pace. I use Nike+ as I had seen one of my friends use it. Although Nike+ has some bugs I wish they had sorted but but it captures distance, time and pace of running over time.

Third important thing to keep in mind is where to run and what time to run. I have done walking on the treadmill and I feel uncomfortable on the treadmill. Again its my personal experience and if treadmill works better for you then that's the way to go. I prefer going on the trail as it is nice to see things changing around you as you run. Although people recommend using new trails I prefer to use the same as I know how much I can cover in the trail. The trail I selected is around my house and a 5K trail so I can walk in increments of 5K. Select a time when you can commit to running wherein you have least chances of getting distracted by day to day activities. I prefer in the evening, half an hour after coming back from office. That helps me take some rest before running and also divert mind from office stuff.

Once you have started on three above things, new shoes, time / distance / pace measuring app and time and place to run then your fun starts. Again I would like to repeat this is my personal experience and may or may not work for you but may be worth trying.

Day 1 of running experience start with walking briskly for a comfortable distance. Avoid extending the distance or time or pace the first day. Choose what you are comfortable with like a kilometer or a mile. If you havent walked or run in a while avoid going too far from your start point or rather repeat the distance 2-3 times from the start point i,e if you want to cover 2 miles go only half mile and come back from starting point and then repeat same distance again. This will give you confidence that even if you get tired or don't feel well you come back to starting point quicker.

First day walk is your baseline what you need to beat every day. From day 2 you can start changing the permutations and combinations of distance, time and pace and beat your previous best in any of these three. So for example first day you covered 2 miles in half an hour with a pace of 15 mins per mile. Second day try to increase your distance or time or pace (only one of them) incrementally say cover 2.25 miles or walk for 33 mins or target a pace of 14 mins 50 seconds. Even if you feel like increasing distance and time try to increase pace marginally only to avoid injuries. For example if you walked 30 mins for first day try to run for 3 mins and walk for 27 minutes second day with 1 min run after 9 mins walk. Change you walk and run time as you feel comfortable. Although you are more excited initially but try to control your initial excitement and let the experience improve over time by going over longer period of time. Its important to keep two of things same (time, distance or pace) as before and extend the other one incrementally. This will give you confidence that you were able to do this last time and you are only incrementally increasing your running or walking. Another benefit of doing this is your Nike+ app will highlight your achievements every time and trust me this will keep you motivated. I have had 22 runs and still get new achievement every time in terms of maximum distance, time or pace. I was reading my run diary a month ago, my initial distance was 2.5 miles my goal was to cover 3 miles in 36 minutes and on my last run I had 3.1 miles in 30 mins and my farthest mile was 7 mile distance (mix of walk, jog and run). On the weekends your incremental time or distance (not pace) can be higher if you feel comfortable.

Last point is that avoid competing with others. Every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses. So if person X can run a distance of 10 miles or can run at a pace of 10 miles per min don't make that as your goal. Your goal is to beat your own previous best time, distance and pace incrementally. Pushing yourself over your limits may help you in short term but may result in injury or demotivate you if you are not reaching those goals. People have preferences over running together vs running alone. I prefer to run alone as I can adjust my pace, distance and time based on my comfort.

Thanks for your time in reading this post. Hope this gives you some insight from a beginner perspective and not from an expert runner for whom things may be much easier.


  1. Glad to see that you penned down your thoughts and lesson learnt with other readers. You are no different than most of us who initially are antagonistic to running, only to find later that it could be so rewarding and exciting.

    Happy Running!!