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EVALUATE YOUR CURRENT PHYSICAL CONDITION: The first order of business is to visit your physician to ensure that your physical condition warrants starting a running/fitness program. This will provide a base line for future comparison as you improve your fitness level. At this point you should also start a training diary or log. Included in that log should be your current vitals, such as resting heart rate, weight and HDL/LDL cholesterol numbers

Study: Sudden, Intense Exercise Can Be Dangerous For Inactive--November 10, 1999---A study found that people who are extremely inactive are more than 30 times more likely to have a heart attack during exertion than at any other time. Those who are just plain inactive are 21 times more likely.---"If you don't get much exercise and you're middle-aged with a lot of risk factors, you ought to be pretty careful about picking up that snow shovel," said Dr. Paul Thompson, one of the authors of the study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.---The warning shouldn't be construed as an excuse to avoid exercise, researchers said.--- Out-of-shape people should begin exercise with caution and check with their doctors first, said Thompson and Dr. James Fletcher, a cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.---"Long-term, carefully done exercise is very good and prevents heart attacks," said Fletcher, who wasn't involved in the study. "The problem is a small number of people who become enthusiastic and decide to jump in there."

SELECT A RUNNING COURSE: Running around a track can be boring and take a lot of mental toughness to go around the oval eight or tem times. For this reason, it is often better to start on a more scenic course such as pathway in a park or on a sidewalk. The initial course should be about two miles long. Go around the course by car, bicycle or by walking before you start to run on it. Familiarize yourself with the general area and the condition of the running surface--avoid any surface that is very rough. If there is auto traffic adjacent to the running surface, the running direction should be the opposite to the direction of the street traffic. For safety reasons, it is important that the runner be able to see approaching traffic. Do not run when it is dark.

Gymboss Timers

RUNNING: Now, all that you have to do is to go out the door and put one foot in front of the other! There are a couple of running form basics that you should try to incorporate at the beginning. These are:

The initial goal is not to run the whole course non-stop. Set a pace that is faster than a slow "dog trot". When you get tired, and this may be after only a couple of hundred yards, stop and walk. When you feel better, start to run again. If the walk/recovery is delayed until it is absolutely necessary, it will take a lot longer to recover, so stop when tired, not dead tired. Undoubtedly, you will remember where the first stop occurred. The next time out, try to get just a bit farther. Continue this routine. As you learn the course, you will see landmarks that will become goals for you to reach. These goals will get longer and longer. The day that you make it all of the way non-stop will be an event that you will remember for a long time. (NOTE: I started this way about 20 years ago and I still remember the landmarks and how it felt to reach them.)

KEEP A LOG: As noted earlier, keep a log, and this should be from day one. Log such things as how far you went, a description of or a name for the course, how far your ran before you had to stop and walk, how long it took, how you felt, your resting heart rate and  the weather conditions. This will help you track your progress and allow you to reflect back in future years. Check your pulse rate immediately following your first stop on your first day of running and note this in your log. As your condition level improves, re-check your heart rate when you stop and see the improvement. To make your own training log, download the the page shown below.

RUNNING SHOES: The most important piece of personal running equipment is your shoes. More expensive shoes are not necessarily better. Initially, you want shoes with good cushioning. If you are flat footed, you probably over-pronate and tend to wear out the inside portion of the soles on your regular shoes. If this is your case, then you should wear motion control shoes or shoes with high stability. If you have a high arch and your shoe wear is fairly even, then you can use shoes that only provide support and cushioning. Try to find a clerk in the shoe store who knows what "pronation" means and the difference between a "board lasted" and a "slip lasted" shoe. Board lasted shoes provide more stability and motion control while slip lasted shoes provide less motion control and are more flexible. A sales person who knows these terms should be able to do a better job of helping you find the best shoes for you. When you flex the sole of the shoes, the shoes should bend at the same place where your foot bends--at the ball of the foot.

MUSCLE SORENESS: Expect and be prepared for some stiffness and muscle soreness during the first week or two. You will be using muscles in a way that they have not been used for a long time. You may have trouble walking up and down stairs or in getting out of your car. This is all normal. If you get a sharp pain in a muscle or joint when running, you should slow down and try to evaluate it. If the level or sharpness of the pain increases while running, you should stop and walk the rest of the way. If it stays at the same level and is not severe, you may be able to continue to run at a reduced speed. Often pains will come and go as you run and you can "run through" them as the muscle stretches and relaxes. Remember if the pain gets worse, stop immediately.

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