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Fall is a Great Time to Start a Running Program

Autumn is probably the best time to begin running or jogging. Getting through the initial stages of any exercise program is always the hardest part, as your body adapts to demands previously not placed on it. Starting when the outside air is comfortable gives you a fighting chance to get past the beginner stage without having to deal with the summer's heat and humidity, or the winter's temptations to stay inside by a warm fire. If you start now, by the time the coldest part of the winter rolls around you should be experiencing some of the benefits of newfound fitness, which will help to pull you away from that fire out onto the roads.

Regardless of what season you choose to start your running program, or any new fitness activity, be sure to start out comfortably and work up to more intense activity. Seeking the counsel of an experienced runner can be very helpful in allowing you to avoid some common beginner errors. If that's not possible, buy a copy or two of Runner's World or pick up a running book. Online research can also yield some great information regarding things such as clothing, shoes, and technique.

Even though we advised you to start easy, you should always have goals. Just be sure that they're achievable. If you can't run a half-mile, then don't step out on your first jog with the goal of completing a marathon. Consider making it your intial target to run a mile without stopping. You can work up to this by jogging for a quarter-mile, walking till recovered, then jogging for another quarter-mile, etc. Shorten the recovery phases till you're going for a mile without stopping. Then set another goal, such as going for a mile and a half, or two miles. For most people who don't intend to compete, three to five miles three times a week is plenty. Once you're comfortable with runs in that range (and assuming you're not intending to compete in any races at longer distances), then work on getting faster slowly.

What do I meant by that? Once again, the advice to the beginning runner holds true. To avoid injury, don't try to improve too much too quickly. Don't try to reduce your three mile times by five minutes in one week. Go for improvements of five or ten seconds at a time, and have recuperation periods every three or four weeks where you just enjoy yourself, run however you feel, and totally forget about goals and time. This will recharge you and help you to continue to improve.

Almost all running experts advise incorporating stretching into your program. However, many people think they should stretch before beginning their run. This is a recipe for injury for most people. You never want to stretch cold muscles. Always stretch after your run, never before. If you feel you run better after stretching, then warm up by running slowly for five or ten minutes, perform some easy stretches, then do your planned run with some more stretching at the end, when your muscles will be most receptive to the benefits. And always be sure to hydrate after running, even if you don't feel thirsty. Water is best for this. Sports drinks are a waste of money unless you're running for over an hour or in extreme heat (which you should avoid if at all possible).

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