Help for an out-of-shape runner wannabe

My situation: Over the last year and a half I have been on Weight Watchers and have lost a lot of weight, to the point where I’m getting very close to my goal weight. As exercise, I’ve been walking every day on my treadmill, which works well but I’d like to do some running outside as well.

Ever since I was a kid (and I wasn’t overweight then, so that wasn’t the problem) I have been lousy at any athletic endeavors that require endurance. In school I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile without getting winded and having to rest. Needless to say, this was discouraging so I pretty much gave it up.

Fast forward twenty-some years to now. Since I’d never tried to lose weight before, I thought I’d just have to live with being overweight, but after 115 pounds gone I’ve kind of switched over to that “anything is possible” mentality. :slight_smile: Anything, including couch-potato, out-of-shape me being able to run a mile or two.

So here are my questions:

  1. Can anyone recommend a start-at-the-bottom routine that will help me start slow and work my way up to running a reasonable distance (say, 1-3 miles or so?) I work best with a clearly definable plan where I can see progress and know where I’m going (kind of like Weight Watchers).

  2. When I try to run, I get winded fairly quickly and then after I stop I feel a little congestion in my chest for awhile. Is this normal? My doctor has never mentioned any problems that might lead to something like this, and I have no health issues other than being out of shape. My spouse says it’s normal, but I want a second opinion. Does it go away as you get more endurance?

BTW, I went to a real running store (as opposed to a general sporting goods/shoe store) today and the salesman checked my foot and my stride and recommended the right running shoe for me, which I bought. So I’m good to go in the shoe department.

Thanks in advance!

As far as #1 goes, you might want to check out this article. It is a treadmill program, but it should bump your aerobic fitness up quickly.

#2 sounds normal to me. As you get in better shape, it’ll go away.

Treadmill programs are ok, but you really need to get outside as soon as possible to improve your progress. There is something motivational (at least for me) in looking as far as I can down the path and knowing I want to get there as fast as possible. In addition, you need to get practice in dealing with rough terrain while you are still going fairly short distances as when you are exhausted from a long run you want to avoid a fall.

When you are running, you say you get winded fairly quickly? As an inexperienced runner, you may have never experienced your “second wind”. Often used in literature and traditional sayings, it is not a fictional phenomenon. What you want to try to do is set a reasonable pace, slightly over a jog. Make sure you are not bouncing up and down too much, but are not sprinting or in an uncomfortable gait (running with someone else with legs of similar length may help in this). Run as long as you can, and when you start to get winded keep going (again, another’s help is good at this point).You will be surprised that you do not end up running yourself into the ground, but will actually experience a span of less than a minute in which you regain your normal breathing rate. After this has happened, you can practice reproducing it, as this will be important in your training.

The average young man can reach the point where daily 7-mile runs in hilly, wooded trails are not unduly strenuous in just a few months. Once you are able to get your second wind with ease you will be able to push yourself into the 1-3 mile range through normal exercise. As for a plan, everyone’s body has its own rate of progress. A good rule that will help you reach your goal is to run as far as you think you can, and then go a bit farther.

Best of luck on your training!

I would recommend a different path. Jog for as long as you comfortably can, whether it be for only a minute or 10 minutes. Then walk until your breathing returns to near normal and you feel more comfortable again. Then jog again, and keep doing this scenario until you are out for 20 minutes. Do this every day and soon you will be jogging for the entire 20 minutes, at which point you can begin extending the time and/or running faster.

This so-called “second wind” is IMHO when your metabolism has shifted over to the more strenuous requirements of running. For me, it takes about 15 minutes of jogging until I begin to feel comfortable and am able to pick up my pace. However, don’t worry about the 2d wind for now, but do as I advice above. There are times when you are out there for a long time and feel tired when you suddenly get new energy. This happens occasionally and may be due to your body acquiring new sources of energy within your body.

Dr. Mirken on the second wind

Try this “Couch to 5K”

Check at RRCA for a local running club. Having a partner and/or a supportive group can help you get through the transition

For more resources check out my club’s links page

Thanks, everybody, for the advice! runner pat, I checked out that “Couch to 5K” link and printed out the program, which I have now started. I’m only on the first part due to some free time problems, but I can already see a small bit of improvement. It’ll probably take me longer than 2 months to get to the 5K mark, but that’s okay. I’m patient if it’s working. :slight_smile:

Thanks again!