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How to start running

The Routine: Running for Beginners
Running can strengthen your cardiovascular system, increase bone density, and clear your mind. But to avoid injury or burnout, begin slowly, said John Honerkamp, the head of training for the New York Road Runners club, in New York City, who designed this walk-run regimen. 

Before starting, get properly fitted for supportive shoes at a running store and grab a stopwatch to track your time. Then do this routine, outside or on a treadmill, twice a week to build endurance. (Don’t worry about how fast you go.) Gradually reduce the time of each walk break until you can comfortably run for 15 minutes straight.

Do for: 1 Minute
30-Second Run + 30-Second Walk
For this first minute, focus on form. Roll your shoulders back and down, drawing them away from your ears. Swing your arms in an even front-to-back motion, and keep your head up and your hands relaxed.

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Do for: 2 Minutes
1-Minute Run + 1-Minute Walk
To find your rhythm, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. It may help to count silently while you breathe—in for two counts and out for two, for example. Be sure to maintain a steady pace.

Do for: 3 Minutes
1½-Minute Run + 1½-Minute Walk
Stay motivated by loading some inspirational music onto your iPod—whatever moves you, whether it’s Adele or the Biebs. (You can find premade playlists, based on artist, genre, or pace, at JogTunes.com.)

Do for: 4 Minutes
2-Minute Run + 2-Minute Walk
This is your longest run interval—set mental mini-goals to get through it. If you’re outdoors, focus on reaching a point in the distance. On a treadmill? Count 10 seconds at a time. Small wins keep you going, said Honerkamp.

Do for: 3 Minutes
1½-Minute Run + 1½-Minute Walk
You’re in the home stretch, so challenge yourself to pick up the pace slightly (while still leaving yourself enough lung capacity to sing out loud). At the same time, take longer strides to push yourself.

Do for: 2 Minutes
1-Minute Run + 1-Minute Walk
Keep up the quick pace for the run, then slow to a walk. Turn your head from side to side and roll your shoulders a few times to loosen your upper body, then stop and stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves.