When starting an exercise program, there is little that is cheaper or simpler than jogging for beginners. So long as you take your time and are patient with yourself in mastering the basics, you will soon be pounding along rhythmically on the road to fitness.
First Step in Jogging for Beginners
The hands-down most important first step in your new exercise regimen is purchasing quality shoes. While jogging is easy and natural - you have been running since the day you learned to walk - no matter what your level of fitness, you must wear shoes that support your arches and ankles, offer adequate space for your toes and allow you to achieve maximum balance. Good shoes mean good posture, so that you are supporting your joints and back as well.
Choosing a Route
It's important to jog where you feel comfortable. For some joggers, that's a scenic outdoor route while others prefer jogging on a treadmill. Both have benefits and potential drawbacks; choose which is best for you.
- Outdoor jogging keeps the scenery varied and provides fresh air. If the terrain is uneven, the effort required for the jog increases. Weather can halt an outdoor jog, as can various road hazards. Joggers also have to stay aware of their surroundings and shouldn't listen to music too loudly via headphones.
- Treadmill jogging compels the jogger into a patterned cadence and is easier on the joints than outdoor jogging since the treadmill provides some give. It's easy to watch videos on a treadmill to help you stay distracted if that's your preference. Some joggers find treadmills boring.
If you haven't engaged in strenuous activity for some time, it's a good idea to first visit with your physician to ensure your readiness for jogging. You want to make sure your heart is ready and capable of cardiovascular exercise.
New joggers who are overweight, out of shape, or over the age of 40 should take care to listen to their bodies and honor what their body tells them. If at any time you feel pain, dizziness, or feel as though you can't catch your breath, this isn't the time to "push through." Instead, slow your pace or bring it down to a brisk walk. It's important to not just stop abruptly because you should allow your heart rate to recover gradually.
Any Progress Is Progress
It's important for new joggers to realize that jogging can be challenging, and to not get discouraged if they can only jog a short distance in the beginning. Rest assured, you will build up cardiovascular endurance over time and will soon be able to jog for longer periods of time. So if you have to frequently walk during your jog, don't let it dissuade you from future efforts. It's a process and it's one that will be worth it.
One of the hardest parts about jogging for beginners is pacing themselves. People think that, since they know how to run, they should just be able to put on their shoes and go. This will quickly lead to exhaustion, which leads to discouragement, which leads to shoes being forgotten in the back of the closet. Build your strength and endurance at your body's pace, and you'll settle into the regimen far more easily.
Be sure to stretch dynamically before jogging. A good warm up is walking; this prepares your body for jogging and helps you avoid injuries. Starting your jog with a five or 10 minute walk readies your body and gets you into the right mindset for a jog.
Set a Goal
Give yourself a goal. It can be as small as jogging to a stop sign at the end of your street or around the block. Having a goal propels you along and gives you a stronger sense of accomplishment when you're done and is a way to measure progress as your goals become larger.
Prepare Your Mind
Jogging can be a mind game; typically your mind is ready to give up long before your body needs to. This is especially true if you feel nervous about jogging or doubt your ability to jog.
- Before you jog, take a moment to close your eyes and visualize yourself jogging effortlessly. Visualize the path (or treadmill) and visualize you finishing your jog feeling strong and capable.
- Create an anchoring statement you can use when you start to feel like quitting. "I will finish this jog," or "I have strong legs and lungs" are along the lines of statements you can repeat to yourself when quitting enters your mind. Some people find it helpful to say the statement timed to steps, so one word per step.
- Don't entertain negative thoughts while jogging. Instead, turn them into empowering thoughts. For example, "I can't do this" becomes "I will do this" or "I am doing this."
After each jogging session, as with any aerobic workout, take a few minutes to cool off. Walk your body down, shaking your arms and doing a few more leg stretches before hitting the shower.
Sample Jogging Routine
When you start a jogging routine, you should start with gentle walking and jogging and build up your intensity and speed as you get stronger. Remember: even if you're walking more than jogging, or even if your jogging feels like a snail's pace, you're still jogging more than everyone sitting on the couch. Here is a sample jogging routine, but customize it to suit your capabilities:
Start gently. Walk for seven minutes. Jog for one minute. Repeat for four intervals. Complete these sessions three times a week.
Walk for six minutes. Jog for two minutes. Repeat for four intervals. Strive to do this three times a week.
Walk for five minutes. Jog for three minutes. Repeat the intervals four times. Plan to do this exercise three times a week.
Walk for four minutes. Jog for four minutes. Repeat for four intervals. Do this three times a week.
Walk for three minutes. Jog for five minutes. Repeat four times. Aim for exercising this way four times a week.
Walk for two minutes. Jog for six minutes. Repeat this interval three times. Jog four times a week.
Walk for two minutes. Jog for eight minutes. Repeat three times. Prepare to jog this way four times a week.
Walk for two minutes. Jog for ten minutes. Repeat three times. Try to jog four times a week at this pace.
After Eight Weeks
After completing this beginner jogging routine, you can carry out ten-minute jogging sessions with minimal walking. You should try to jog four or five times a week. You can gradually increase the length of time you jog each session at your own pace.
The Actual Run
A jog is not a dash. You want to run lightly, at a speed that allows you to breathe regularly. Your breaths should be long, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. A deeper breath maintains top circulation and allows you to get more out of your exercise.
There is much debate regarding the best foot strike for joggers. Many new joggers naturally have a heel-toe strike, and while there is nothing wrong with this, it's not the only foot strike. Try different strikes to see what feels best to you, keeping in mind that your foot strike may change depending on the terrain and your speed.
- A heel-toe strike involves the heel hitting the ground first, followed by the midfoot and toes.
- A midfoot strike is when the entire bottom of the foot hits the ground at the same time.
- A forefoot strike involves the ball of the foot hitting the ground first and may or may not be followed by the heel hitting the ground.
Keep your shoulders back, your stomach in and your head up. Bend your arms at the elbow and swing them in time with your legs. Relax your shoulders and don't clench your fists.
Maintaining the Regimen
Another difficult aspect about jogging for beginners is getting into and sticking to a routine. This can be harder if you have a busy schedule. One answer is to team up with other joggers. Exercising in a group makes the run more fun and helps guarantee that you'll all stay involved. For parents, pushing a jogging stroller can help build stamina and removes the excuse of not being able to jog because of your baby.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Even if you decide to enter marathons, it's still all about your own health, so run at your own pace. If that's on the slower side, that's fine. You will still improve your heart rate and build strength and endurance. The real race is to stay fit, and that's a race you can definitely win.