Jogging is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, right? Right — and wrong. Right because there just isn't a more basic, down-to-earth, inexpensive way for the average person to achieve fitness than by jogging. Wrong because if it's so darn easy why do so many people start, and then just up and quit?
Like every other activity, there are certain jogging tips that need to be followed and which — like the guidelines in most other activities — are usually ignored. The results of such ignorance are usually outright injuries and those little (and not so little) aches and pains that can take all the fun out of this simple and otherwise enjoyable hobby-sport.
In an effort to avoid such dead ends while getting more people on the road to fitness, Rory Donaldson and the National Jogging Association have put together a remarkably complete — and inspiring — little book called Guidelines for Successful Jogging.
We're happy to be able to excerpt a bit of this fine little manual here. It's just what the title implies — and just what the doctor (or sports podiatrist) ordered!
If you're reading this hoping for a miraculous conversion to jogging, forget it! No matter what good you've been led to expect from exercise you probably won't "get out there" unless there's already a small, irrepressible jogger deep inside you struggling to be free: seeking movement, health, sweat, challenge, a fast-beating heart, solitude and play.
(If you're over 30 and sedentary, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. If you're over 35 you should have a maximal-stress-treadmill test in order to safely determine that there are no contra-indications to your jogging at this time. The National Jogging Association may be able to help you locate a facility near you.)
Successful jogging isn't just a goal, it is also a means of expressing physical potential, grace and beauty. Wise jogging and fitness can develop a base of physical and emotional well-being that will allow you to maximize your freedom of movement throughout the rest of your life. Keep in mind, though, that the way to become a good jogger isn't by reading jogging tips, but by achieving flexibility and putting in many long, slow, quiet, gentle miles of jogging. "Train, don't strain," and slowly — throughout the months and years — your jogging can be wise, safe, gentle, fun and rewarding.
The natural tendency, now that you are ready to begin, is to demand it all now! Paradoxically, this same self-motivation — so critical to a successful program — can also be your undoing if it leads to stiffness, guilt, fatigue and injury. As well-intentioned as the new jogger usually is, a few highly fevered days of pounding around the block — accompanied by many glances at a watch — will be very discouraging, boring and unpleasant. Why would anyone want to keep this up?
You will need to return, again and again, to the reminder that real accomplishment cannot be gained overnight. It is won over weeks, months and years of regular jogging effort. Your task is not to complete the job of being a jogger, but to begin. Good education and correct practice now can do a great deal to help you find what you're looking for.
So, begin by putting aside your watch, climbing into some comfortable shoes and loose clothing, and taking a number of regular walks over the next few days. Remember, even too much walking can be overly strenuous for some people, so begin by going out 15 to 60 minutes every other day. As you begin to train and accommodate to this new stress (perhaps far more regular exercise than you've had for years), you'll slowly begin to understand the basic instructions: Take it easy, have fun doing what you're doing, and don't hurt yourself.
There is cosmetic fitness. The fitness of looking good in the mirror, liking what you see when you take off your clothes. This is important, since liking what you see helps you feel good. And feeling good is one of the very practical effects of being in good shape.
A second part of fitness is flexibility. Flexibility is associated with youth; stiffness and immobility with old age. The ability to maintain a full range of motion into old age is important because it allows a freedom of movement associated with resiliency, self-reliance, independence, beauty and grace.
A third part of fitness is balance, which leads to coordination. Balance is being able to revolve your motion around your center of gravity so that gravity doesn't work against you. It's knowing how to carry yourself with equilibrium and how to move with stability.
Still another part of fitness is strength: the ability to maintain the muscle quality necessary to perform daily tasks with something left over for the unexpected.
A fifth component is speed. Not the speed of an Olympic gymnast, but the speed that allows for a consistent and personally acceptable pace throughout life, rather than the crippling slowness and poor coordination accepted as an unavoidable by-product of a passing youth.
The last part of fitness is endurance, especially cardiovascular endurance: the ability of the heart and circulatory system to carry out their functions well and long without fatigue and disease. The ability of the body to supply muscles and organs with the blood needed for efficient, pain free, expressive movement.
Jogging is a particularly good sport with which to achieve a "base-level" of fitness because it can be readily engaged in by most people and because it uses the largest muscles in the body — the leg muscles — which demand a strong heart to pump the blood necessary for their proper functioning. (There, of course, are other sports which are just as good as or better than jogging. Cross-country skiing and competitive rowing are two which require more of the heart, yet they are not as available as jogging to most people.) This demand on the heart is stress, and stress applied advisedly to any muscle will cause it to train and become stronger, more able to perform work.
This is a question each one of us must answer. For many, the ability to accomplish the "base-level" will be sufficient. For others, this achievement will mark the first accomplishment on the road to far more extensive training that may lead to competition and perhaps to championships. Whatever your training goals are, write them down.
How much do you weigh now? How much would you like to change? Which muscles would you like better defined? How many miles would you like to be able to jog? What increased range of motion would you like? When you think about "feeling better," what do you mean? More vitality? Less depression? When you think about increasing your strength, does that mean you'd end the day with less fatigue? The more clearly and specifically you're able to answer these questions the better picture you'll have of who you are and where you want to go. Through wise training and reflection upon your goals, an increasingly realistic picture of your potential will appear. It's through an ongoing realization of this potential that the well-being of jogging and fitness training will show. This is when you'll know, "This is what I've been looking for. This is what I was missing."
The schedules and recommendations developed in these pages do not need to be strictly followed. There are certain basic principles which must be learned, but you and you alone must learn to make intelligent decisions regarding your training. These are not "hard and fast" rules, but guides that must be bent to fulfill each individual's needs. Follow an unyielding and inflexible schedule and you're courting failure.
1. The fact is, jogging takes work, and — especially at first — hard work, but not all that hard. You'll be surprised if you're able to develop the discipline necessary to get you through the first eight or 12 weeks. And you are able. Jogging isn't a sport for supermen, but for all the people, similar to yourself, you notice jogging every day.
2. "Sure, but I've tried jogging, and it's just boring. It's the boredom that defeats me, I just don't like it, no matter how much I'd like to be in better shape." Boredom isn't the real culprit. The real enemies are those things always associated with boredom: fatigue and anxiety. Fatigue from insisting on pushing too hard and watching the clock, anxiety created from the fear of being defeated by this new undertaking. The only way to beat fatigue is by learning to take it easy. This, in turn, will reduce anxiety.
3. How much time are you going to need? Including a quick shower, at least a full hour four times a week. That is the minimum.
4. Always have enough breath to be able to converse with a jogging companion. Jogging is not racing. If a slow jog is too fast for conversation you should be walking instead.
5. From day one, keep a fitness-training diary. This can be your most important coach, as it can force you to go slowly enough to be able to adapt successfully to new stress. Record your short-term and long-term goals. What are you going to do during the next week? How did last week go?
6. Investing in a good pair of jogging shoes now can save you considerable trouble later, as good shoes have the support and cushioning that's needed to jog on today's artificial surfaces. Most people will have no trouble jogging on asphalt or cement as long as they are jogging in a good training shoe and keep the soles of their shoe in like-new condition (sometimes with the help of a hot glue gun, to patch thinning spots).
Tennis and gym shoes are discouraged because they simply aren't designed to absorb the regular shock of jogging and don't have the necessary cushioning and support. One shoe will not fit all people. When you try on a new shoe make sure you have plenty of room in the toes, that there is no heel slippage, and no friction on a particular spot. A good jogging shoe should fit well when you buy it and should need no breaking in. [Check out Runner's World magazine for tips for choosing the right shoes, plus reviews of shoes . — MOTHER]
7. Begin developing a "hard-easy" schedule. Plan your training a week in advance so your hard, easy, and rest days are well spaced. Take your rest and easy days. It's during these periods that your body is allowed to adapt to new stress.
8. The importance of being a "balanced" jogger cannot be overemphasized. The jogger who only jogs, without plenty of additional stretching, is asking for trouble. Regular stretching exercises should become a normal part of your overall training.
9. Are you too old? No one is too old to make significant strides in their physical fitness. However, for the older man or woman, or for a person recovering from an illness or injury, walking may be more advisable than jogging since it is less stressful. Walking is excellent exercise, provided the same gentle approach is used that is so heavily stressed for jogging. An excellent goal to work towards is an average of 45 minutes of brisk walking at least five times a week, though this may take some time to achieve.
10. A rule of thumb: If you've been out of shape for 10 years, it's going to take you at least 10 months to get back into shape and achieve a minimum base-level of fitness. One of the biggest mistakes a jogger can make is to think there are secrets and shortcuts to fitness. There are none! Forget the "quick fix." Throw away your rubber suits and gimmicks.
Weight lost through sweat loss is irrelevant and deceptive since it's all liquid and is quickly replaced. What you have to burn off is fat, and that takes time. There are about 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. You burn about 100 calories in a mile of jogging or walking.
11. Before you learn to jog, learn to walk.
Before you learn to walk, learn to breathe.
Before you learn to breathe, learn to stand.
Standing: Stand with your weight evenly distributed on the feet, heel and toe in line, legs slightly bent, head well balanced, shoulders relaxed.
Breathing: With your index finger touch the middle of your belly, about an inch or two below your navel. This is your center, where your physical center of gravity is located. Remember this point.
Most of us have learned to breathe shallowly and backwards. We draw our stomachs in when we inhale. This is backwards, for when our stomach is drawn in we cannot draw in full lungs of air. Try it. Touch your center and breathe. Concentrate on pushing your finger out with your belly as you breathe in, and allow your finger to push your belly in as you exhale air out. Breathe through your nose and mouth and fill your lungs from your belly, your center.
Unlock and relax your shoulders in order to allow your lungs to fill deeply to the bottom. If you breathe in this way, your diaphram (the muscular partition between your thorax and abdomen) will move freely and correctly and you will get a full breath.
Belly breathe. Take many deep, slow breaths. Exaggerate. Practice. Open your lungs fully. Try it standing, bending your legs slightly. Relax and breathe from your center, feet about 18 inches apart, neck relaxed, head well balanced.
Walking: Do not walk as though gravity is the enemy. All movement rotates best around your center of gravity. Walking is not all in your legs, it is also in your arms and upper body. Breathe deeply, swing your arms, stay on balance.
Walk stairs two at a time when you're ready. Rise smoothly from your toes. Then, put on your jogging shoes and sweats and walk. But remember, even walking can be very stressful to the out-of-shape person. Begin slowly.
Jogging: Good jogging starts with the thumbs and ends in the feet. Jog standing nearly straight up, with good posture, weight over your hips. Relax your thumbs, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, and mouth. Breathe through your nose and mouth. Land with your weight towards your heels. Don't jog on your toes, that puts all your weight on the small bones at the front of your foot, works against the natural lever-action of your foot, and may lead to injury. Running on the toes is for sprinters.
12. Learn to jog "fartlek," as the Swedes call it, or speed-play. Jog at varying speeds, perhaps even walking or stopping for a while. Perhaps "turning it on" for just a few moments. Do whatever your spirit, your body, your ability suggest. It is not necessary to jog at every stoplight. The short pause can be very refreshing.
Warm up and walk down. The walk at the end of a jog can be a tremendously satisfying experience.
13. Since you are working yourself in new ways, you must also rest yourself in new ways. The seven hours of sleep you've been accustomed to may no longer be sufficient. If you feel sluggish, headachy, irritable, then the chances are excellent you're not getting enough rest. Try increasing your sleep by an hour a night and allow yourself the rare luxury of an occasional midday nap.
14. The mixing of speed and time (distance) is explosive and dangerous, especially for the novice jogger. When you decide it's time to increase your training, choose only one variable to push. It is usually best to increase distance (a maximum of 1 mile a week) rather than speed, although improving the quality of your pace may certainly be called for.
15. Good diet. The jogger's nutritional needs aren't all that much different from those of the general public, except for perhaps increased fluid and caloric input. The jogger should attempt to get nourishment from fresh, natural sources.
Immediately before, during, and just after running, the runner's drinking habits should concern him or her more than what's eaten. A pound of fluid may drain away in as little as 2 miles, and on hot days, the rate may be faster yet. Fluids must be replaced. You needn't worry about drinking too much fluid, because your kidneys will unload the excess water in a matter of a few hours.
16. A recent National Geographic study found that people who live extremely long lives have several things in common, regardless of where they live. They eat lightly, exercise every day, and their diets contain little or no meat.
You've seen hundreds of joggers, and now you want to imitate one. Go to a busy jogging area and watch a number of joggers very closely. Which ones look as though they're having a good time? Which ones look as though they're pushing themselves through hell? Which one do you want to look like? How are the hands being carried? Watch the pace of the best, it looks slow and relaxed. Notice how the shoulders and hands are held. Listen to how the feet strike the earth. In your mind's eye, watch yourself move and try to loosen up. Form — how you get there — is far more important than speed and when you get there.
You will need to choose an appropriate time of the day to jog. One in which it is realistic to take time. For this reason, many people jog the first thing in the morning. Others find their lunch hour an appropriate way to workout and reduce calories simultaneously. Some prefer the evening as it allows an effective way to "rejuvenate" between leaving work and entering the evening. Of course, you'll have to discover what works well for you. What will not work is hoping to fit in an hour between a couple of appointments. Taking time is one of the basic disciplines of jogging.
Proper mechanics are important for efficient, gentle, silent jogging. The ultimate goal is to jog with ease and animal grace.
1. Hold your back straight. Stand nearly erect. This will allow you to develop a smooth and even stride. For many this will require strengthening the abdominal muscles and losing weight.
2. The length of your stride (measured from the point where your right foot touches the ground to the point where it touches again) should about equal your height.
3. Your foot should touch the ground with the weight towards the rear, either in a heel-toe motion or more flat-footed. Your leading foot should come down just about under your knee.
4. Landing on your toes is not advised because it throws all the weight onto the small bones at the front of your foot. This works against the natural lever-action of your foot and may lead to injury.
5. "Jog gently, jog silently" means not to pound along the path. Don't slap your feet. Follow through on your stride so that your foot lands without being driven into the earth and jarring your entire body. Become light and smooth. As your foot makes contact, your center of gravity should be over it or slightly ahead. Accomplish this by leaning slightly forward and by allowing your legs to work as pullers, not pushers. As strange as it may seem, a muscle cannot push, it can only pull.
6. Relax your fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, jaw. When you jog efficiently, you'll use as few muscles as possible, thus decreasing fatigue.
7. Carry your arms at about a right angle. Don't let your arms cross in front of your body. Relax your wrists, but carry your hands strongly thumbs up. Relaxing doesn't mean flopping.
8. Breathe from your belly, through your nose and mouth.
9. While jogging, the inner borders of your shoes should fall very close to an imaginary line extending directly out in front of you.
10. The most important physiological by-product of jogging will be a strong heart. As in the training of any muscle, you must overload it sufficiently and regularly to allow training. You will not continue to improve without increasing stress upon a muscle (a maximum increase of 10 percent a week).
11. Variety will help you jog your best. Continually jogging in a straight line on the flat uses the same muscles, in the same ways, over and over, training them, but leaving other leg muscles out of shape. This classic imbalance tends to lead to injury since you don't have well-rounded muscle support for proper mechanics. Break up your jogs, not only with stretching exercises and walking, but by searching out the corners, circles, stairs, and hills. Move off the forward, straight line by jogging backwards or in crazy snake lines for a few hundred yards. Jog in ever tightening and expanding figure eights and circles. Also, vary your limb movement. This variety in jogging contributes to well-balanced training.
12. Walking, called "the pause that refreshes," is an excellent break from jogging and can help you increase your distance without strain. Walking also requires your legs to move through a fuller range of motion than jogging and will help keep you strong and loose during a long jog. After every 15 minutes of jogging, you might want to try five minutes of walking.
13. After jogging, a cool-down period of five to 15 minutes is recommended, because when exercise is suddenly stopped blood may become temporarily "trapped" in the muscles which have stopped moving. This may reduce overall blood circulation to the brain, heart, intestines, and can lead to dizziness, faintness, nausea, or extra heartbeats. It's also advisable to stay out of hot rooms or showers without a proper cool down as these may dilate the blood vessels, exaggerating the same problems.
14. Do you have appropriate clothing? Lay in a supply of cotton or wool athletic socks. Clean, good socks are a must for comfort and to avoid blisters. You will notice that some joggers wear no socks, and this is fine if it is comfortable for you. Make sure your clothing doesn't bind you. An expensive warm-up suit may help your motivation, but an inexpensive sweat suit is just as appropriate. Many men prefer an athletic supporter. Many women prefer a bra. If you are comfortable in one, fine; however, jogging without them is in no way dangerous, does not lead to sagging, and is not unhealthy unless you have a special need for support.
If it is a hot day, dress coolly and loosely. If it is cold, dress in layers so you can add or subtract as the temperature changes. The lone woman jogger should jog with a heightened consciousness of the weirdos of the world. Perhaps jogging is best restricted to daylight hours. When this isn't possible, skipping rope or running in place is an excellent jogging substitute.
A warm-up should have two parts, the first being to stretch muscles and joints before taking your first jogging step. The second part of a good warm-up involves using the muscles that are going to be involved while jogging: the cardiovascular system and legs. This is done by beginning your jog slowly, allowing your body to become adjusted to the new demands you are putting on it before picking up your pace. This will usually take five to 10 minutes.
There are some generalizations about warm-up: The better shape you're in, the longer it will take to warm up and really stretch; the colder the day, the harder it will be to warm up; warm-ups are usually too short and too lazy rather than too long and too vigorous. The better you warm up, the better you will be prepared to have a safe, enjoyable, injury-free jog.
The jogging program outlined here can be performed by most males and females of all ages. Perhaps the most difficult skill to learn in jogging is that of pace, discovering exactly how fast to jog and how rapidly to progress. Because individuals are at different levels of fitness, some will be able to progress through an entire 12-week program in a few weeks, others may take months before they can successfully complete our minimum definition of fitness. This is up to you. The important thing is not to hurry. Hurrying and rushing are the building blocks of failure. Don't hold yourself back if you're ready for the next step, but don't feel compelled to move to the next step if you're not thoroughly familiar and comfortable with your current schedule. Knowing when to speed up, when to slow down, and when to stop is the essential art of jogging and physical well-being.
As strange as it may seem, the body adapts to stress during your rest periods, not during the jogging itself. Because rest and relaxation are so important to successful jogging, we recommend six days of work a week and one full day of rest. The schedule of your six work days should alternate between hard (long) and easy (short) days, thus allowing plenty of rest between your longer workouts.
As you become a skilled jogger, you may decide you only want to workout four days a week, but we recommend the beginner devote some time to his or her new schedule six days a week since it is too familiar for the new jogger to miss a day, then postpone jogging one more day, and then another until the whole program is forgotten.
Including warming up, cooling down, changing clothes and some stretching an ideal jogging program allows a full hour of exercise six days a week, right from day one — although, certainly, the first few days and weeks will not require much of the hour for jogging.
What's important is to begin to get into the habit and schedule of regular, long, endurance exercise.
First week: (note: if at any time you become out of breath, slow down). Day one, three, five: Walk 15 minutes, vary your pace, try not to stop. Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 1 minute, walk 5 minutes, jog 1 minute, walk 5 minutes (total time, 17 minutes). Day seven: Rest.
Second week: (always walk as needed). Day one, three, five: Walk 15 minutes, jog 1 minute. Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 3 minutes, walk 5 minutes, jog 3 minutes, walk 5 minutes (total time, 21 minutes). Day seven: Rest.
Third week: Day one, three, five: Walk 15 minutes, jog 1 minute. Day two, four, six: Walk 6 minutes, jog 4 minutes, walk 6 minutes, jog 4 minutes, walk 6 minutes (total time, 26 minutes). Day seven: Rest.
Fourth week: Day one, three, five: Walk 15 minutes, jog 2 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 3 minutes, jog 2 minutes, repeat five more times (total time, 30 minutes). Day seven: Rest.
Fifth week: Day one, three, five: Walk 15 minutes, jog 2 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 5 minutes, repeat three times ending with a 5-minute walk (total time, 35 minutes). Day seven: Rest.
Sixth week: Day one, three, five: Walk 30 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 4 minutes, jog 6 minutes, repeat twice more ending with a 5-minute walk (total time, 35 minutes). Day seven: Rest.
Seventh week: Day one: Walk for 30 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 4 minutes, jog 6 minutes, repeat twice more, ending with a 5-minute walk (total time, 35 minutes). Day three, five: Walk 5 minutes, jog 10 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day seven: Rest.
Eighth week: Day one: Walk for 30 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 2 minutes, jog 1 minute, repeat nine times ending with a 5-minute walk (total time, 32 minutes). Day three, five: Walk 5 minutes, jog 15 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day seven: Rest.
Ninth week: Day one, three, five: Walk 5 minutes, jog one minute, walk 1 minute. Repeat jog-walk, one minute each for twenty minutes. End with a 5-minute walk (total time, 30 minutes). Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day seven: Rest.
Tenth week: Day one, three, five: Walk 5 minutes, jog 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day seven: Rest.
Eleventh week: Day one, three, five: Walk 5 minutes, jog 25 minutes, walk 5 minutes (always walk as needed). Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 10 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day seven: Rest.
Twelfth week: Day one, three, five: Walk 5 minutes, jog 30 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day two, four, six: Walk 5 minutes, jog 15 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Day seven: Rest.
You'll notice that this schedule follows a traditional "hard-easy" pattern in order to give you plenty of rest between your longer workouts. If you decide that 30 minutes, four times a week is adequate for your jogging needs you might try, at the end of 12 weeks, to begin alternating your days . . . resting one full day between each 30-minute jog.
When injury does appear, we advise people to rest, stretch, and to look to your feet. Advice from a good sports podiatrist may help you deal successfully with a wide variety of jogging-related problems. The NJA may be able to help you locate a good podiatrist in your area.
Once you have accomplished the goals of the first 12 weeks, you should level off at this plateau for 4 weeks in order to fulfill the last part of the definition of fitness, "week in and week out without excessive fatigue or injury". After an additional month of successful jogging, you may find you want to increase your distance. Always increase distance instead of speed. Increase your distance by no more than 10% or a mile a week. After making any increase, stay at this new level for at least 2 to 4 weeks. Then, should you continue to feel like you want more, increase your distance again.
Jogging is not for everyone. Nor is bicycling. Nor are pullups or leg lifts or any single sport or exercise. We know this, yet it seems to be a human frailty to demand a truth that is applicable to all. This has been done by joggers, as well as other converts, who suddenly find new levels of satisfaction in their lives. Too many jogging converts have promoted our sport as the cure for all that ails the world when in fact the critics are correct in warning people away from movement they simply don't like, which they aren't built for, and which can prove overly stressful and damaging. They are certainly correct in advising the 10 to 15 percent of the population with heart disease to be particularly cautious about jogging.
Unfortunately, the critics attack jogging and other hobby-sports without offering any positive alternative to a nation plagued with heart disease at epidemic proportions. Our position, supported by over 1,000 exercise-oriented doctors in our affiliated American Medical Atheletics Association, is that the most significant measure of physical fitness is cardiovascular-pulmonary endurance, the capacity of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the body. All evidence supports the belief that the excellent condition of the heart and the arterial walls holds the key to a long and healthy life. This fitness can be altered by means of diet and exercise, and to attack jogging, or any other endurance hobby-sport, on the grounds that it may lead to injury misses the point that without correct exercise and diet we must resign ourselves to being overweight and diseased, definitely injuring the quality of our entire existence.
From the critics, we ask for alternatives. Not only to exercise, but to the positive involvement in one's life it provides and the play it offers. For, not only does exercise address itself to the quantity of life one is to have, but, perhaps more important, to the quality. We know that jogging wouldn't be as popular as it is if, simply enough, it didn't help people feel good. A person needs to have no excuse to exercise. Exercise is its own excuse. It offers challenges, rewards — and outlets that many are unable to find elsewhere.
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