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Getting Started on Running

I've been running on and off since last Summer (around June 2009), largely because I was alarmed that I was gaining too much weight and I felt rather heavy.  After a few months of walks and occasionally intense runs, I've managed to regain my body's flexibility and agility, and I was able to develop a bit of endurance.  The gains were actually very modest but I was very happy with the realization that I can actually do something about improving my well-being.

Then the holidays came and I took a 5-week vacation in the Philippines.  While I was there, I tried to avoid the overly-convenient public transportation, opting instead to walk/run several blocks in the city.  The hot weather took a bit of adjustment but it's the pollution and lack of safe running areas that made me realize how difficult it is to enjoy running in the country.  So, I realized that while I'm still living in Nice I should take advantage of the relatively low levels of air pollution and the length of the Promenade des Anglais.

To add weight to my resolve, I now challenge myself to be able to finish in a marathon (yes, running a 42.195 km race) within a year!

I started to read about marathon training and, boy, was I surprised!  This sport is no walk in the park!  There's so much preparation and training needed.  My boss at work is very supportive of my desire to run and was kind enough to lend me a copy of the French-language Jogging magazine's special issue on marathons, which contains various training programs for people who want to run in a marathon.  I've also read various websites concerning the appropriate shoes, clothes, and other accessories like heart rate monitors.  Proper exercises, hydration, and diet are also important to learn and understand.  It's all fascinatingly simple and complicated at the same time!

Anyway, one has to get started somewhere.  So yesterday, I bought new shirts, socks, a new pair of shoes, and a heart rate monitor.  I made a mistake buying the shoes (it was for highly-arched feet, while I have flat feet) but I had them exchanged at the same store this morning.

Finally, earlier this afternoon I decided it was time for the rubber to hit the road.  I haven't run for more than a month so it was a combination of brisk walking and slow running for about 30 mins, the main purpose being to monitor my heart rate.

The simple formula for the maximum heart rate (MHR) is 220 minus the age.  That's MHR = 188 for me.  I've read that in order to increase one's capacity for intense physical activity, one has to exercise at an intensity that increases the heart rate to 65-85% of the MHR for at least 20 mins, 3 to 5 times a week.

So today, I ran/walk averaging a heart rate of 144 bpm over 30 mins, covering a few kilometers toward the center of Nice.  After that, I stopped monitoring and walked all the way back.  I felt very comfortable at this level of intensity.  The challenge will now be how to run faster and longer at about 70-80% MHR.

How about you?  Would you like to run too?  If you're already running, please share with me your experiences.

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