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Start Running If You Overweight

After you get medical clearance from your doctor, you need to start with a gradual flexible program. When I say gradual, I mean it’s going to ease you into running very slowly. Running for weight loss is easy, but expecting to run long distances right away is unrealistic and likely to lead to injury and discouragement. You can still get fabulous results quickly while easing into running.

When I say the program needs to be flexible I mean you need to be able take it on at a pace that works for you. Every body is different and so you need to be able to adjust your running program to work with your body and fitness level. Here’s a flexible program that should work for you:

You’ll need a watch to time your running and walking intervals and I recommend a flat place for your first runs. As your fitness level improves, you’ll be able to start looking for hilly locations you can add to your running destinations.

To begin, you’re going to run for one minute then walk for two minutes. I call this a one-two interval. You’ll repeat these intervals for a total time of 20 minutes. That will give you a total running time of 7 minutes. When you are running, you want to work only hard enough to raise your heart rate slightly. If you can still carry on a conversation, you’re doing fine. If you can only sputter out a few words, you’re working too hard. Back off the pace and take it easy. Remember, you’re running for weight loss, not trying to set records.

In the first week, you need to run/walk 3 times. Take a day off in between running days to allow yourself time to rest and recover. If you want to bike, swim, walk, hike or lift weights on your days off, that’s even better. We call that cross-training and you will get fitter even faster.

In the second week, your run/walk interval will be one-one, meaning you’ll run for one minute and walk one minute. Again, you’ll repeat these intervals for 20 minutes which will give you a total of 10 minutes of running. Three days of run/walk intervals will complete week 2.

In each of the subsequent weeks, you will increase the run portion of your intervals by one minute so it looks like this:

  • Week 3: Run 2 minutes / Walk 1 minute
  • Week 4: Run 3 minutes / Walk 1 minute
  • Week 5: Run 4 minutes / Walk 1 minute
  • Week 6: Run 5 minutes / Walk 1 minute
  • … and so on…

If at any point, you find that increasing the run time is too hard, feel free to stay at the previous week’s interval for another week. I’d much rather you take extra time to achieve your goal than over-train and risk discouragement and/or injury. You can always take a few extra weeks to lose weight and improve your fitness. This is a lifestyle change not a fad diet to shed a few pounds.