FEEL LIKE RUNNING? West Seattle Runner’s advice on how to start safely

With gyms and other fitness facilities closed, many are staying fit by going out for a run – even if they weren’t regular runners before. You want to be safe so you don’t get hurt – especially considering non-emergency medical care is not a option. So West Seattle Runner (WSB sponsor) offered to write up some advice on safe running:

We see lots of runners out on the streets, tracks, and trails of West Seattle these days. We have heard many say that they are taking up running since they don’t have access to their typical workout routine at this time. We hope that you will enjoy running as much as we do! We also thought it might be helpful to share a few tips on how to get started running in a way that will reduce injury, increase enjoyment and keep you running for years to come. Our best tip is to start conservatively and gradually build. Here’s how:

1) Begin by setting out for a walk/run workout. If you have never run before (or it has been a long time) but you are consistently doing walks of 30 minutes now, you can start to add in two-minute intervals of running followed by walking for an interval of time that allows your heart rate to restore to normal. Then you can add in another two minutes of running. Continue to do this until you are soon running your entire 30 minutes. *If you have been walking for 20 minutes, you can use the same protocol, just start with a 20 minute segment. If you have not been doing any aerobic activity, start with building your endurance with 20-30-minute walks and then work into the protocol described earlier.

2) If you are already able to run for 30 minutes, you can gradually add to your time every other day. You can choose to run by time or miles. But the general rule of thumb is that you don’t increase your overall volume by more than 10 percent each week.

3) We don’t recommend that you run every day. Your body does need time to recover. At first, it might be best to go every other day and allow yourself to determine how you are adjusting to the new activity.

4) Be able to hold a conversation while running. While this is going to be more of a solo sport for right now due to COVID-19, a “conversational pace” is still a great way to gauge if your pacing is right. If you are gasping for air and unable to talk, you are simply running too fast and you need to slow down. That will sometimes mean slowing to a walk. That is okay, you won’t have to do that for long. Going at a conversational pace allows you to build your aerobic base, makes for a more enjoyable experience and reduces the risk of injury.

5) Join a community where you feel supported, connected, and get your questions answered. Join our West Seattle Runner Group Page on Facebook where we’ll do FB live kickoffs to virtual group runs each Wednesday night. Our runners are also posting pictures and reports on how their runs are going. They are an encouraging group and love to answer questions and share tips.

6) Enlisting the help of a running coach can be helpful to get a program that is tailored to your specific needs. P3|Running offers coaching that can all be done virtually via online calendars, phone calls, video chatting etc.

7) Have fun! We are in love with this sport for a reason and we hope it gives to you the way it gives to us at this time. It is our bias that running is good for physical and mental health.

The West Seattle Runner Team

WSR is West Seattle’s only running store. They’re also still open, with “safe shopping” measures in place, as shown here – 2749 California SW.

18 Replies to "FEEL LIKE RUNNING? West Seattle Runner's advice on how to start safely"

  • Steve March 21, 2020 (11:58 am)

    Excellent suggestions. I might add,  for beginners, think of it more like a gentle trot.  Jogging is not about going fast. 

  • Kathy March 21, 2020 (2:02 pm)

    Joggers and runners, please stay off the sidewalks. Sidewalks are for walking. It’s too hard to maintain  6 feet of distance between people on a standard sidewalk. As a senior trying to walk my dog, I have been forced out into the street a couple of times by runners coming up to me suddenly on the sidewalk. Think about it. Your are huffing and puffing  as you pass someone on 6 foot wide sidewalk. It is not safe. Since you are able bodied enough to jog and run, maybe you should be the one to move out into the street. In fact, the city should make it legal and safer during this crisis for people to walk and run in the streets since the sidewalks and trails are getting over crowded due to nice weather, kids out of school and people working remotely. 

    • WSMom March 21, 2020 (2:57 pm)

      I’m going to run on the sidewalk anyways. It’s not safe to run in the road. If I see someone coming I do run into the road to stay away from them. I don’t expect the walker to get out of my way.

      • Kathy March 21, 2020 (3:11 pm)

        Thank you, be safe.

    • Lee March 21, 2020 (3:02 pm)

      I am a runner, and agree with you that we have a responsibility to be courteous to other users, and to give other people plenty of space with the pandemic right now. I will absolutely take a detour into the planting strip or a quiet street to give you six feet of distance. I also try to go early in the morning to avoid people. But please don’t tell people not to use the sidewalk. Runners don’t take up any more space than any other pedestrians, so the distance problem is the same whether I’m jogging or strolling. It is absolutely not safe to run in the street in most places in West Seattle. I have seen rude and oblivious behavior from runners, and I join you in calling that out, but those of us who are being respectful and safe have the same right to use the sidewalk as anyone else.

    • Bradley March 21, 2020 (10:24 pm)

      “Dog-walkers, please stay off the sidewalks”. <——- See how that sounds? That’s how you come across to all users of our public sidewalks. They belong to everyone, not just walkers with dogs. You can use a dog park, walk in the street, a quiet park trail, or step into the dirt apron or parking strip when you see a jogger headed towards you. Let’s all respect each others’ rights to use our public sidewalks.

  • datamuse March 21, 2020 (3:16 pm)

    There’s a great app called Couch25k that I used when I started running. As the name implies, it’s for people who don’t run at all to get started, and has the walk/run routine West Seattle Runner recommends built into its structure. If you’ve got a smartphone it’s very helpful. (And make sure you have proper shoes that fit well!)

  • Lori March 21, 2020 (3:26 pm)

    I am seeing comments about the safety of sidewalks currently.  I think this a very important concern to raise.  Tips on etiquette for all walkers and runners  (since all are using sidewalks and will continue to do so, as going into the street is not safe): 1) If you as a walker or runner is coming up behind another walker or runner, it is your job to go around the person you are passing since you are the one with visibility, you can say “passing” or “on your left” to alert them of your presence and not startle them 2) If you are walking two or more abreast or have your dog and leash strewn across the sidewalk, be mindful as runners or walkers come towards you that you should share half the sidewalk and move to accommodate 3) Runners have already figured out pretty quickly to “go wide” when they come upon a walker or runner and give a wide berth to respect social distancing, as we have witnessed this shift occurring within the last several days 4) People in the at-risk populations should consider avoiding higher traffic times as there are many more folks out walking, cycling and running than usual 5) Stop. All runners and walkers can stop and pull over onto the parking strip and wait for a too crowded situation to pass 6) Use common sense to follow the 6 foot rule and we should all be safe. 

    • AdmiralSDV March 21, 2020 (4:54 pm)

      Thank you. This is a helpful reminder and a rational approach in ability to execute. Physical distancing is important and we can all do our part while maintaining some of the few activities we have left. 

    • Jenny March 22, 2020 (10:04 am)

      In my personal experience these last few days, most runners have made zero effort to distance–most noticeably when coming up from behind. Rather than constantly look over my shoulder while walking, I’ve decided to stick to my yard and stationary bike. The aggressive runners win (slow clap).

      • Tsurly March 22, 2020 (11:17 am)

        Non-running sidewalk users have culpability in this as well. Don’t walk two, three, four, etc. abreast, be respectful yourself and share the sidewalk with other users. This selfishness is nothing new.

  • HS March 21, 2020 (5:07 pm)

    Thank you for this!!! I am going through strength training (free weights) withdrawal and thought I’d give running a try.

  • AlkiGal March 21, 2020 (5:43 pm)

    Went out for my usual afternoon walk, and I’ve never been so crowded by so many clueless runners, passing me from behind by inches with no warning. Lori is spot on. If you are coming up behind someone, it is your job to go around the person you are passing since you are the one with visibility.

  • Jim March 21, 2020 (10:13 pm)

    Any tips for stretching calves before a jog?  I began walk/jogging in December, and have worked my way up to jogging without walking for 2.5 miles.  Every now and then, though, one of my calves will cramp so bad that I can’t run for a few days.

  • Lori March 22, 2020 (12:36 pm)

    Calf advice: look into hydration and electrolytes. That can be that causing cramps. Do a dynamic warm-up before running, afterwards do static stretches.  Incorporate stick rolling before and after. You could youtube demos for all this. Glute activation before a run can help. Call the shop for more detailed advice. 

  • RCC March 22, 2020 (1:00 pm)

    If you are breathing heavily, perhaps 2-4 times the amount of air volume a walker would expel, then multiply your distance accordingly.   Runners should stay 12-24 feet away from others.   Or perhaps run in place in a private setting for the safety of all.   Note that runners are inhaling quite a bit more as well, and amplifying their risk and in turn the risk to all.

    • tsurly March 22, 2020 (2:49 pm)

       Absolute garbage, on the same level as that Montana senator who said bicyclists contribute to greenhouse gas emissions because they fart more.

      • WSB March 22, 2020 (3:00 pm)

        I’m looking up CDC/KCPH actual guidance as some of this is getting to near-hysteria pitch. Anyone who can help look up those links, help appreciated. NOT social-media “I saw in this group …” stuff, actual direct health-authority links. Thank you.

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