Looking back on my own life I have jogged much more than I remembered. I have jogged on and off since my early 20’s. I never found it easy. I struggled to find rhythm, my legs always felt uncoordinated and I never got over the hurdle to run long distances. I did however get fitter. Since January 2014 where I made a solid effort to start running decent kilometres, I did make in roads. I bought a new pair of shoes, my breathing became notably easier, I got a running app to track my progress and my legs and body recovered quicker from my standard 6 K run.
I highly recommend running as it’s an easy (yes easy) way to get started with fitness given you can build your length, speed and how hard you run. And its addictive!
As I improved, it no longer felt like I was being dragged behind a car. I felt the various “gear shifts” in my body as my various energy systems switched from one to another. I felt improvements as various parts of my body improved (legs, lungs and other things that can hurt). I knew I was improving when my body outlasted the K’s I was running and I started getting bored.
It never even occurred to me, that I could get comfortable with running a long distance, that I got bored with it. Up around the 40-60 minute mark your brain finishes digesting your day, you’ve silently giggled at that joke that you heard last week, the album you listened to has finished, you remember to grab that extra thing for the weekend, you relive a moment from work… Luckily for me over the last two years I have been studying heavily and started a business, so I have appreciated the “me time” for my brain to just think.
When you start running, assuming you are relatively sedantary now (but don’t smoke) , your body quickly undergoes a number of adaptations. I’ll come to them shortly but I first like to describe the reasons that are likely to cause you to stop running and start walking.
First it will be your cardio vascular capacity. Put simply your lungs and heart will not be able to get enough oxygen to the muscles you are using. So your lungs will burn, your heart will race above your target rate of 65-75% of your heart rate and you will literally feel like you are drowning or dying. So your brain tells you to stop. This is most likely to occur if you attempt to run to fast too soon. To help ease this for someone who has just started I recommend you to start at a nice slow pace. A “7 minute kilometre” (that is it took 7 minutes to travel 1 kilometre) is a reasonably slow amble that should be maintainable for 5-10 minutes. Something interesting happens at the 5-10 minute mark that is quite remarkable. I’ll get back to this.
Lets assume you jogged for 5 minutes at 7 minutes a kilometre and continued walking for 5 minutes while you recovered, then jogged for another 4 minutes, before slowing and then walking home for another 5 minutes. You might infact travel up to 1.5 – 2 kilometres. Not bad effort for a first day.
If you jog/walked for 15-20 minutes a day, 2 – 3 times a week you will notice definite improvement in under 2 weeks. Your body will adapt at this level very quickly. Your lungs become much more efficient at exchanges gases with the blood, getting Oxygen in and Carbon Dioxide out. Your muscles will be sore after each jog, but will improve. As you get over this hurdle you next barrier will be your legs. If you travel further or travel at a higher intensity (faster jog) your legs will tire as they wont be efficient at getting oxygen in, it will deplete energy stores and may even get sore from lactid acid build up. (Lactic Acid is a bi-product of the work muscles do). Thats because the muscles need to be trained to operate more efficiently. This will take a little longer. Possible an additional 2 to 4 weeks or (4 – 6 weeks after you started running.) At the 6 week mark however, your heart lungs will work incredibly well and will be able to sustain you for 20-30 minutes of continuous running putting you in the 5 K zone. Thats not bad! Training for run 5 K in one month is definitely doable!!
You may have heard of the expression “Second Wind”. In the right context, it refers to the change over in energy systems within the body. Your has three 3 energy systems. I want to discuss the two that are relevant here. The Oxidative (Oxygen) System and Anaerobic (Lactic) System. When you start running your body quickly start breathing more heavily dependant on the load required by your muscles. When it exceeds what you can supply, you get exhausted very quickly. (Think running flat out for 30 seconds). When you sustain activity at 65-75% of your max heart rate or “the fat burning zone”, for 5-10 minutes the Anaerobic system will kick in it and will convert energy from your fat stores and doesn’t require oxygen to do so. Your body still needs oxygen for other operations but energy to jog will start coming from the Lactid Acid system system. This is 18 times more efficient than the Oxidative system and your breathing may almost return to normal. You will barely be aware of the change over but after 10 minutes you will notice your breathing is shallower and less frequent.
Your heart rate is the best tool to monitor your fitness. Conduct this test to determine a base line (starting point). You can accurately measure your heart rate by counting the beats of your heart for 15 seconds and the multiply by 4.
- Measure your resting sitting heart rate
- Walk for 5 minutes and measure your heart rate
- Jog for 5 minutes and measure your heart rate
- Rest for 5 minutes and measure your heart rate
- Time how long it takes to return to your resting sitting heart rate
These key performance indicators will be your dash panel to your fitness.mOther indicators like, How far can I run in 5 minutes, how long can I run continuously, how many minutes can I run 2 kilometres etc are all relevent and can be used to track your perforance. Yo can use a smart phone app.
I spoke earlier of the “fat burning zone”. This is the zone of heart rate at which your fat is burned from your body. (Not necessarily the best over time but one of the best to get started with). The equation looks like this.
TO DETERMINE THE LOWER TRAINING LIMIT
Fat Burning zone = (Max HR – Age) x .65 (lower training limit)
Fat Burning zone = (220 – 42) x .65
Fat Burning zone = 178 x .65
Fat Burning zone = 116 (lower training limit)
TO DETERMINE THE UPPER TRAINING LIMIT
Fat Burning zone = 178 x .75(upper training limit)
Fat Burning zone = 134
So the fat burning heart rate range for a 42 year old is 116-134 beats per limit. Under that limit and he’s not working hard enough, above that limit and his body will switch bad to oxidative system and wont be using fat stores as efficiently. Itrs worth mentioning that High Intensity Training (HIIT) over a longer period of time will burn more fat for less time expended but you must work your body at extremely high heart rates. That’s up to 90% of you max heart rate for short intervals and then resting until the Heart Rate falls to 160 then raising it back up to the HIIT zone. So for me thats per the below.
HIIT zone = 178 x .90
HIIT zone = 160K
Here are are some other tips from around the web for getting started.
- Get the right shoes
- Learn correct form
- Start slow
- Schedule the time
- Get some tech
- Do the walk/jog/walk thing until you can do the jog thing
- Allow rest days
- Allow for cool down to flush muscles of toxins
- Do stretch properly after each walk
- Keep properly hydrated
- See a doctor first
- Run earl morning or late afternoon. The heat form the day makes jogging much harder when its hot
- Avoid hills until you are ready for another challenge
- Learn some running form
- Find a running buddy
I could have gone on a length with this article. So if you feel I missed anything out, I probably did and would appreciate your feedback.