Starting a Running Program

Week 1

by Patti & Warren Finke, Team Oregon
Would you like to be healthier, happier, look and feel better and have more self confidence? These are only a few of the benefits of aerobic exercise. You can follow our Ten commandments of Training to start your own safe and enjoyable running program.

The First Commandment: Have a plan

Many start an exercise program to lose weight or to look better. These are good long term goals. But, the motivation to stick with an exercise program comes from the day to day achievements, measurable progress and enjoyment from the sport. These are the reasons to have a training plan and some achievable short term goals. In this program we will provide you with a daily training program over the next five weeks and some measurable achievements. At the end of 5 weeks you should be able to comfortably complete 8 kilometers, (5 miles).

Start with the purchase of the best running shoes you can afford. If you are over forty, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease before age 50, check with your physician before beginning.

The first 6 - 8 weeks of any exercise program are limited by cardiovascular fitness which shows up as shortness of breath. Muscular and connective tissue fitness takes much longer and causes problems after the runner gains enough fitness to run continuously for the entire workout. Each workout should include a warm up and cool down that will be walking at the beginning of this program. The distance included in these counts toward the total distance covered. The walk/run sequences allow you to gain the necessary fitness to breathe while keeping the muscles and connective tissue from being overly stressed.

The main goal of this training program is to gain endurance. To do this you will gradually increase the duration of your workouts and reduce the walking elements. The intensity of the workouts should be at a comfortable level so that you are able to talk during the running segments and feel pleasantly tired after the workout, not exhausted. If you are puffing and panting or uncomfortable during the workout, you are working too hard. Slow down and enjoy it. To check yourself, try taking your pulse rate periodically during the workouts. Your pulse should be less than those shown below. If it is not, slow down. You will find your pulse rate will drop a little during the walk segments and your breathing will be much easier. In a short time, your cardiovascular system will adapt, so that you can go farther and faster at the same effort and heart rate.

Training Heart Rates for Different Ages

Age       20        30        40        50        60
Beats    <26       <25       <24       <23       <22 
(in 10 seconds)

The Second Commandment: Use the hard easy system.

The hard/easy system is a training strategy popularized by University of Oregon Coaches Bill Bowerman and Bill Dellinger. The fundamental principle of this system is to allow enough rest after a hard workout for the body to recover and rebuild. In this way, over time, the body adapts to the exercise and becomes stronger and able to do more work. Experience and research have shown that varying workout intensity and duration in cycles of hard and easy is a more effective way to train than simply doing the same workouts day after day.

What is hard and what is easy? Simply put, hard is a workout that is above average in intensity or duration; an easy one is below average. Starting out, a hard workout will be a day of exercise while an easy one will be no exercise. As you progress, hard could be faster or farther. To improve cardiovascular fitness, the preferred training method is to increase the distance first. This training develops the body's ability to utilize aerobic energy stores (fat and sugars) and its endurance.

Week One Workout


To be done on a 400 meter running track to quantify the actual distance covered.
Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6   Day 7
Easy    Easy    Hard    Easy    Hard    Easy    Hard

  0       0     3.2Km     0     3.2Km    0      4.8Km

3.2Km workout
Warm up by walking  800 meters, 2 laps of  the track
Complete 1600 meters or 4 laps of  the track by alternating 
100 meters of running (straights of track) with 100 meters 
of walking (curves of track) 
Cool Down by walking  800 meters, 2 laps of track

4.8 Km workout
Warm up by walking 800 meters, 2 laps of the track
Complete 3200 meters or 8 laps of the track by alternating 
100 meters of running (straights of track) with 100 meters 
of walking (curves of track) 
Cool Down by walking  800 meters, 2 laps of track

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