How to hit your stride with a new running workout

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If you're new to running, a local expert has a few tips to help your hit your stride.

The Chevron Houston Marathon is just days away, and even if you're not wanting to run 26.2 miles, you may feel compelled to take a stab at running.

UTHealth and Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute Texas Medical Center sports cardiologist and 13-time marathoner Dr. John Higgins has some tips to help you get started.

First, Dr. Higgins recommends honing your technique, which starts with not landing on your heels.

"When you hit straight down like that, the force goes directly up here to the knee and hip," Higgins explained.

Instead, Higgins recommends running on your tippy toes. "That's so much softer on your knees and hips."

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Next, take 180 small steps per minute -- in other words, three steps per minute.

Big strides can be really exhausting, while smaller strides require less energy to help you go further distance.

"Almost pretend that your legs aren't going off the ground, like they're scraping off the ground," added Higgins.

Finally, resist the temptation to pump your arms as you run.

"You want your hands flopped down by your side, totally relaxed," Higgins explained. You'll also use less energy.

Higgins also had recommendations for designing your running program.

"I would want that person to be able to walk comfortably for 30-45 minutes really easily without having to stop," he said.

After completing a full walk, then it's time to start running.

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He recommends following the 10% Rule each week. Walk nine minutes and run one minute the first week. Then, increase your running by 10 percent: The following week, walk eight minutes, then walk two minutes. Then, seven and three until you're running the entire distance.

Finally, don't forget to stretch and recover.

"It takes about the amount of time that's equivalent in hours to your age to recover your muscle fibers, so someone who's in their thirties or forties, they're going to need a couple days to recover," Higgins explained.
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