Running a race is a great way to get the exercise your body needs to reduce your cancer risk. Hit the pavement with MD Anderson Cancer Center's step-by-step training guide.
Training for a race like a 5K (3.1 miles) or half-marathon (13.1 miles) is a great way to pack in the 30 minutes of daily exercise your body needs to prevent cancer — and make that daily exercise a habit.
And running can help you shed pounds, reduce stress, strengthen bones and reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases.
No matter what your fitness level, get inspired to be healthy by setting goals. Find a local race and ease into a training program.
Hit the ground running with these tips.
Get the gear
Having the right shoes can make all the difference for runners. Go to a local running store and ask a consultant to help you find the best shoes for your feet and stride.
Buy shoes later in the day when your feet have a chance to swell a bit, and leaving about a thumbs width of room between the end of your longest toe and the tip of the shoe.
Start off slow
If it’s been a while since you last ran, start with brisk walks three times a week. A brisk walk done right should allow you to talk but not sing. If you’ve experienced symptoms in the past while exercises or have a health condition, talk to your doctor to make sure you are fit enough to start training for a race.
Kick it up a notch
When those brisk walks no longer leave you out of breath, start 30-minute running workouts, three times a week.
“While it’s tempting to just go out and run as fast as you can for as long as you can, you’ll ultimately run longer, feel stronger and stay injury-free if you start by adding short bouts of running to your regular walks and gradually increasing the amount of time that you spend running,” says Whittney Thoman, a senior exercise physiologist at MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center.
Try running for two minutes, then walk for four. Move at a comfortable pace but increase the intensity as it gets easier.
Next, run three minutes and walk for two. Then run four minutes, and walk for two. Continue this pattern until you can run comfortably for 30 minutes without a break.
“The main goal is to get fit without getting hurt,” Thoman says. “Going too far, too fast, before your body is ready is one of the most common causes of injuries like shin splints, IT band syndrome and runner’s knee.”
Mix it up
After you’ve perfected your 30-minute run, increase your workouts to five times a week. But alternate running with walking and cross-training to work different muscles, condition your body and prevent injury.
To avoid burnout, rest two days a week. Consider running with a friend, trying different routes or joining a local running club to keep up the momentum. Once you find your stride, keep pushing to meet your fitness goals.
Whether you decide to sign up for a 5K, half-marathon, marathon or another race, give yourself plenty of time to train and enjoy the benefits of running.