How to run lose weight, help your heart and lower your cancer risk

| Sunday, April 20, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

With spring here, you might be ready to get off the cardio machines and head outside. Here are tips on starting up a running program and staying with it from Jennifer Van Allen of Runner's World magazine, who has run 49 marathons and is the co-author of the new book “Runner's World Big Book of Running for Beginners.”

Do it your own way. There are some nonnegotiables when you hit the road: Start slow and finish strong, never run through pain, and invest in running shoes and replace them before they wear out. But the rest is open to individual interpretation. So, don't be distracted by people who try to convince you that you're doing it wrong.

Don't undo your roadwork at the dinner table. Keep in mind that most people overestimate the number of calories they burn and low-ball the number they consume. For any run of an hour or less, it's fine to run on empty. Anything longer, or if it's been a long time since you've run, have a 100-to-200-calorie snack an hour before heading out. Make sure it's high in carbs and low in fat and fiber.

Follow the 10-minute rule. The first 10 minutes of any run are going to feel tough. You'll probably feel stiff, achy, tired and ticked off. That's OK, and a natural part of transitioning from being sedentary to being in motion. If you keep pushing your body forward — even if you're walking — your weariness will soon evolve into exhilaration. We promise. After 10 minutes, you can call it quits with the satisfaction of knowing that your mission is accomplished. But more often than not, your muscles will feel warmed up, your heart rate will be elevated, and you'll start to feel energized, even excited to exercise.

Learn the difference between good and bad pain. There will be muscle aches that go with pushing your legs and lungs farther and faster than they've gone before. But any pain that persists or worsens as you run or after you're done is something that deserves at least two days of rest and possibly a call to the doctor.

Take your run like medicine. The hour before a run is tougher than anything you'll encounter out there. Before you go, a flood of excuses will threaten to get between you and the road. You will always have emails to answer, dishes to wash, laundry to do, phone calls to return. But if you don't take care of your body, it won't take care of you. Research has proved that regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer, among other conditions. It can help improve the quality of your life, help stave off depression, help you stay sharp as you age and even help prevent age-related declines such as falling.

Learn how to talk back to negative voices. At some point during a run of any distance, you'll start hearing these voices: I'm too slow. I'm too tired. I hate running. You can't prevent these voices from haunting your run. But you can develop a strategy. Make a list of reasons why you run. Fitting into your skinny jeans is perfectly acceptable.

Go with the flow. The state of your work, family and social life will have a huge impact on how much time, emotion, energy and interest you can bring to running, and what you need from it. Keep setting new goals that work well with your lifestyle and your state of mind.

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