Also, any tips or tricks for a middle-aged mom with lots of weight on her knees/joints? Thanks!
I am an adult onset runner who started running with a BMI of 30, I think. I really enjoy it!
For me I think the key is really listening to your body and building up strength/endurance over enough time to allow your muscles and bones adapt without injury. The issue many people experience is that they do too much too soon. The book "Running for Mortals," which I found very useful, has a great section explaining how running challenges several systems in your body - your aerobic system, your muscles, and your tendons and joints. While your aerobic system is relatively fast to adapt (three weeks), your muscles take six to twelve weeks to adjust, and your tendons/joints change every 6-12 months. Lots of runners start to feel great after their aerobic performance improves and start pushing harder, only to run into muscle mbalances that can lead to joint/tendon injury.
Some ways to mitigate these issues:
- get good shoes at a running store. They will run about $100 but they are built differently than the sneakers you get at a big box retailer. Also running store employees can figure out if you need a particular kind of shoe if your foot rolls inward/outward (pronates or supinates). The right shoe for your foot will protect your knees and hips and help to prevent injury. Buy shoes by how they feel, not how they look. If you join a local running club, your local running store will probably offer a discount for that club. (Your shoes need to be replaced every 300 miles or so, so track your mileage - there are free sites like dailymiles that allow you to do this.)
- don't pay attention to your pace. Instead monitor effort. Most of your workouts (80%) should be at a moderate effort (you can hold a conversation but not sing a song). Another benefit to this approach - workouts will be more fun!
- instead of training by distance, train by time (C25k does this as I recall)
- in between your running days, mix in a few days of low impact cross training, like biking or swimming, completed at a moderate effort
- increase either distance or speed; not both at the same time. Conversely: the higher the intensity of the workout, the shorter in duration it should be.
- try to not increase distance or time (whichever you are using) more than 10% per week
- every six weeks or so, plan a cutback week - reduce your mileage or time by 10% to allow your body recovery time
You can use a training plan as a template but you should feel free to modify for your own needs. For instance, I am a run/walker; I run 3 min 30sec and walk 1 min. You can modify the run or recovery time up or down, depending on your fitness level, recovering from injury, hilly terrain, warm/humid weather conditions, etc. C25k uses intervals; you can start by using those and seeing which work best for you. If you find an interval that works, you can keep increasing the total duration or distance of the workout and complete it using that interval. The Timex Ironman watch at Target is around $50 and can be set for intervals.
Anyway - those are just some ideas. Sorry it's kind of a tome. I hope there is something in there that is helpful!