Don’t hit the ground running -- ease into it

Blahnik is a Laguna Beach-based personal trainer and IDEA Health & Fitness Assn. spokesman.

I lift weights at the gym three times a week, but as part of my New Year’s resolution, I decided to also start running a couple of days a week. I hope this will help me lose a few pounds and get into better shape. But I haven’t run for many years. Any tips?


Corona del Mar

Running is one of the best cardiovascular activities. It burns a lot of calories (about 500 to 1,200 calories per hour, depending on how much you weigh and how fast you run) and can be done almost anywhere.


Here are some tips to reduce your risk of injury and maximize your results:

* Warm up. Begin each run with a power walk or an easy jog to prepare your body. Use this time to break a sweat and increase your breathing rate. Studies show this will reduce your risk of injury and make it easier to run farther and more comfortably.

* Manage your mileage and minutes. Begin your program by running whatever distance you can achieve in 10 minutes without stopping (regardless of how slow or fast you run). Once this time and distance feel comfortable, add 10% to 15% more distance per week until you can comfortably run about 30 minutes at a time without stopping. This will help you establish a running “base” with less risk of injury.

* Mix it up. Once you have established your “base,” mix up your speed and distance each time you run. Some days, try running shorter distances but with more speed, so you can build your fitness. Other days, try running slower, but go a longer distance than usual, to build endurance. Occasionally try mixing walking with running, so you can still burn calories while minimizing the impact on your joints.


* Change the scenery. Keep your body and your muscles guessing by running different routes and terrain. Run flat routes, run hilly routes and even try trail running now and again for a change of pace. New scenery will help you avoid burnout and boredom, and your feet, knees, hips and back will appreciate the variety.

* Consider the treadmill. You don’t get the scenery and fresh air. However, the treadmill usually provides more cushioning than the outside terrain, and you can control your speed and incline at the touch of a button. Plus, you can use the treadmill on bad-weather days or when you need to combine your gym weight-training workout with your running workout.

* Select the best shoes. Proper running shoes are essential for reducing injuries and maximizing comfort. Look for local specialty running stores. Most of these stores have staffs that are expert at analyzing your specific running pattern and foot shape. Try on at least three different pairs of running shoes before making your selection.

* Stay safe. Wear reflective clothing if you are running outdoors at night. If you are listening to music through a headset, make sure the volume is low enough to hear what’s going on around you. And always carry your ID, a cellphone and a small amount of money if you are running long distances or are on an unfamiliar route.