There’s nothing like running in the fall: the cool air on your face, the foliage crunching under your sneakers and loads of races. If you’re a beginner, a seasonal runner or someone coming back to running post-injury, be sure to prep your body so you get maximum results from your run while minimizing the chance of hurting yourself.
If you exercise regularly, you can begin running but slowly. A run/walk program, where you alternate running for an interval and walking for an interval, is great for gradually building up your running legs. Here's an example plan by Active.com:
Week 1: Run 2 min, walk 3 min; repeat 6 times
Week 2: Run 3 min, walk 3 min; repeat 5 times
Week 3: Run 5 min, walk 2 min; repeat 4 times
Week 4: Run 7 min, walk 3 min; repeat 3 times
Week 5: Run 8 min, walk 2 min; repeat 3 times
Week 6: Run 9 min, walk 1 min; repeat 3 times
Week 7: Run 30 minutes
Once you've reached 30 minutes of running, add intervals into the mix to build up endurance and speed. Don't forget to stretch after a run and if possible, do some yoga on your off days to increase your mobility.
Want to learn everything you can about becoming a well-rounded runner? Read “Build Your Running Body” by Pete Magill, Thomas Schwartz and Melissa Breyer. It is one of the most thorough books about running and is a must-read for runners of all levels. Even Bob Anderson, founder of Runner’s World magazine, praised it: “This is so good. Honestly, I think this is the best running book ever.”
Pick it up and you’ll find over 150 workouts of all kinds — including weightlifting and cross-training to resistance work and plyometrics, that can be tailored to runners of all skill levels — for every element of a well-rounded running body, which includes muscles, connective tissue, cardiovascular fitness, energy production, the nervous system, hormones and the brain.
Sound a bit geeky? It is. But the book is written in an easy-to-read style with photos, training programs, charts and tables galore. Interviews with leading runners and coaches gives you get first-hand training insight. And over 30 recipes will help keep your running body properly fueled.