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Long-Distance Running

Train by Taking One Step at a Time

By Rhonda Mann
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Staff

It was a cold, slushy winter. So you decided to stop that weekly 10 mile run for a few months. Now it's time to start back up again. But, where do you even start?

"One of the biggest mistakes people make when adding long-distance running back into their routine is they do too much, too fast," says Carine Corsaro, exercise physiologist with the Tanger Be Well Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Corsaro advises to start at a pace that can be maintained for several minutes, and that allows you to talk while you run. If you're out of breath, you're doing too much, she says.

Another good tip -- use the 10 percent rule.

"If you run ten miles this week, for example, next week run 11 miles," she says. "Increase mileage by 10 percent each week." She also suggests incorporating interval training - alternating between running and walking.

"So for instance, after you warm up, start running for a minute and walking for three. Each week, you'll want to increase the running and decrease the walking."

Corsaro also recommends adding some strength training to your routine to increase joint stability and enhance endurance. Squats and lunges, for example, can help maximize your work outs.

Not hydrating enough is another common mistake, especially when the weather is still cold.

"Even though you may not be sweating very much, you need to keep your body fluids up," says Corsaro. The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America recommends consuming 8 ounces of water prior to exercise, four ounces every 20 minutes and 16 ounces after you exercise. Water works fine, unless you've been exercising for more than 1-hour, in which case you should grab a sports drink to replace electrolytes.

In terms of stretching, flexibility is an important part of any exercise program, says Corsaro. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends incorporating stretching either after a five-minute warm-up or at the end of the work out.

"You don't want to stretch muscles that haven't been warmed up as it can increase the risk of injury," she explains.

Also, make sure you run safely. Try to plan your workouts during daylight hours and if you are running at night or early in the morning, bring a partner and always carry your cell phone.

Finally, if you are pulling your running shoes out of the back of your closet, Corsaro says make sure they are in good shape so you get off on the right foot.

"Make sure your sneakers are made for running and replace them every 300 to 500 miles," she says.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted March 2011

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General Medicine and Primary Care
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Carl J. Shapiro Clinical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215