Thursday, September 22, 2011

How often a beginner should do a running exercise per week?

Often times, you find yourself overweight and then you start to feel so conscious about it. You then buy a pair of running shoes and start running. Traditional wisdom teaches you that the faster and longer you run, you burn the most calories. More calories – more weight loss. So you run more than an hour a day only to find out you become injured, weak and sick at the end of the month without significant amount of weight loss. You then conclude that running exercise is not for you and finally quit running after the first month. I have seen this with a lot of weight conscious people too many times. They love to run but running does not love them. Is this really true?

According to my intuition, 99% of the beginning runners (those without a trainer or coach) do not train correctly. As a result, they become dissatisfied with the results because often times they become sick. At worse, they even gain weight during their training! The secret lies in the number of hours you should train each week and the level of effort you exert.

Full time/professional runners or elite athletes train more than 5 hours a week; mere mortals train less than or equal to 5 hours week because they still need to do other things. Assuming you are a mere mortal, you should aim to run at most 5 hours week. But specifically how much at beginning, 5 hours right away? 4 hours? 3 hours? The answer is to gradually increase your workout load.

running athlete

Running introduces some unpleasant stress to your body and if you directly aiming for a high number of hours of workout per week, you will end up burnout, fatigued and not happy with your training. It is highly advisable to check with a doctor to get proper permission to start any running workout if you have some doubts regarding your health. The correct approach is to “gradually increase” the number of hours of training per month. This will let the body to slowly adapt the routine and minimize stress. This is my recommendation based on my real experience:

First month: one hour total workout per week
Second month: two hours total workout per week
Third month: three hours total workout per week
Fourth month: four hours total workout per week
Fifth month: five hours total workout per week (maximum)

So in the first month, try to run a total of 60 minutes for each week. On the next month, run a total of 120 minutes for each week then rest. Make sure you do not exceed 45 minutes in any workout or no less than 30 minutes in any workout! So if you are aiming to run 3 times a week and your target running minutes per week is 120, it will be or 120/3 = 40 minutes per workout which is OK. When the time comes that you are capable of doing 5 hours a week workout which is already a LOT of time. Try mixing a running workout with other activities such as cycling or swimming to prevent boredom.

The next important question, is HOW FAST SHOULD YOU RUN? It is all out? Very slow? Moderate? The answer is to never exceed your “maximum aerobic speed” or else you risk being over trained or getting some injuries that can prevent you from running again. Maximum aerobic heart rate (in beats per minute) corresponds to: 180 – age. You should never exceed the limit at any time you are running. For example if you are 31 years old and a beginner in running, your maximum aerobic heart rate/limit is 180- 31 = 149 beats per minute. Use a heart rate monitor to get accurate heart rate measurements! If it reads above 149 beats per minute you need slow down right away until you are within the range.

Allow some -10 tolerance, so your heart rate training zone for all of your running workouts as a beginner would be:

Upper tolerance = Maximum aerobic heart rate = 149 beats per minute
Lower tolerance = Maximum aerobic heart rate = 149 – 10 = 139 beats minute

So the target heart rate (which you should be aiming every time you run) is the average between the upper and lower tolerance = (149 + 139)/2 = 144 beats per minute.

I can guarantee that it won't take so long and you will lose weight EFFECTIVELY, lose your fats and even run faster month after month happily and injury-free. Just don’t stop running.


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