Avon Running Training

A Walking and Running program for all abilities *
by Kathrine Switzer -
Program Director - Avon Running

Welcome to the world of Avon Running. Our objective with this program is to create opportunities in walking and running for every woman, regardless of her age or ability, in walking and running. Whether you want to begin a program for fitness or to lose weight, reduce stress or develop as a competitive athlete, the series of Avon races and walks will give you a goal.

To help prepare you I've written a book entitled "Running and Walking for Women Over 40 - The Road to Sanity and Vanity *", but this book is easily applicable to you at any age.

So to get started I offer you the following "How to Run" and "How to Walk" guidelines which are taken directly from my book.

* Running and Walking for Women Over 40, The Road to Sanity and Vanity (St. Martin's Press)
By Kathrine Switzer
Available April 1998

A Walking Program: A Step-by Step Approach to a New Way of Living and Looking Great

A Running Program: Making Strides for Sanity and Vanity

Starting Here, Starting Now: The Beginning for Runners & Walkers

EVERYONE must walk before she can run.


Kathrine Switzer
Whether you're out for your very first run or your returning to the road after several years away, or if you intend eventually to be a walker, you should begin by putting on a watch, going outside and walking purposefully for a few minutes. For some of you, this might be five minutes, for others, fifteen. Don't push, don't hurt, and don't get breathless. Have fun! Walking and running should always be fun, even when you increase your physical challenges later in your program.

For the next three weeks, continue going out for a walk. Try to go every other day, with a minimum of three times a week. Each time you walk, add a minute to your walk, and try to go just a bit faster.

TIP: If you miss a workout, don't feel guilty. Just try to start again as soon as possible. If you miss a lot of days, you may need to start again very gradually, but don't fret. The important thing is doing it!

Intermediates move ahead; real beginners need more time.

By the second or third week, some intermediate beginners may start to feel a bit restless with this gradual phase. If you want to become a more serious fitness walker, move ahead to the walking section of this book. Beginning walkers will want to remain at this phase for as long as it takes to feel comfortable. A good guideline is to increase your distance or time in the activity by ten percent a week.

Those who want to run will notice that at times their walks break into slow runs, or jogs. This is a good time to experiment with very easy running. As you walk, pick out a mailbox or telephone pole 50 to 60 yards away and very gently break into a slow run and jog to it. Walk again to catch your breath and start repeating this process in all your walks, adding more and longer running phases to it. You're now ready for your first real running program.

Real beginners may take weeks, or even several months before they can reach this stage, depending on their original physical condition. This is usually the crossroads where a true beginner determines whether she will stay a walker or wants to move on to become a runner.

Running: Form and Fundamentals.

How do you run? The answer seems obvious: You put one foot in front of the other. Right? Yet it is one of the most frequently asked questions because running is not quite that easy. There are a few rules to follow.

First, you have to move from walking to running. How do you get started? Try this method. Go outside and start walking. Walk a bit faster. Then pick up the pace some more and sort of shuffle along; you'll see you're moving as quickly as you were in the fast walk, but it's actually easier. Shuffle just a bit faster, landing on your heels and rolling forward. Now you're jogging, but it should feel just as easy as fast walking.

Running form: Run with your shoulders back and your arms and hands relaxed. Bend your elbows at your waist with the palms of your hands facing each other - as if you were getting ready to put your hand in your pant's pockets. Keep your hands loosely cupped.

Keep your head erect and your eyes focused about ten to fifteen yards in front of you. Don't look straight down at your feet. Your chin should be parallel to the ground.

TIP: Don't feel depressed if your progress seems slow at this early stage. This is all new to your body, even if you were very active sometime in the past. It is far more important to build a strong healthy base, even if it takes longer, than to try to progress too quickly and be discouraged or even injured.

A Walking Program: A Step-by Step Approach to a New Way of Living and Looking Great

Walking is one of the most natural things we do. It's such a basic part of life that for a long time no one thought about it as a fitness activity. That's not the case anymore. As more and more people see the importance of exercise but are short on time, training or even the ability to participate in more vigorous sports, they've decided to look elsewhere for a workout. Fitness walking - walking with a purposeful stride, arms pumping, heart rate elevated - which first gained a following in the 1970s, is booming again as a result. It provides women with a wonderful exercise alternative. You can burn fat, develop muscle tone, reduce bone mass loss, and improve your grace and carriage.

Walking is going on everywhere: on the streets where you live, in community fun walks and races, through walking club activities, and at shopping malls. You can walk anywhere, at almost any time. Most important, virtually everyone can walk - no matter what your current level of fitness or activity is.

If significant weight loss is a major goal for your exercise program, walking may be an excellent way to start. Each time your foot strikes the ground while walking, it's with the force of one and a half times your actual body weight; that increases to three and a half to eight times when running. Running provides too much pounding for someone who is overweight.

Just as there are progressive levels in running, there are different stages in walking.

Walking form: Walk holding your body in a natural upright posture with your back straight, shoulders down, and neck relaxed. Look straight ahead focusing three or four yards in front of you, not down on your feet.

Your heel should hit the ground first, then follow through your stride, pushing off with your toes. Hold your arms with your elbows bent at a 90 angle and pump them back and forth in an opposite rhythm to your feet - when you stride forward with your left foot, your right arm comes forward and vice versa.

Keep your stride at a natural length. If you want to walk faster, don't lengthen your stride. Take smaller, quicker steps instead. Also, don't lean forward as you walk. Good posture not only enhances your carriage, but also helps prevent injury.

A Program to Make You a Thirty-Minute Walker.

Once you're able to comfortably walk for fifteen-minutes, it's time to look at the next stage: working toward being a thirty-minute walker. This means you will be able to do a thirty-minute fitness walk three or four times a week. It's the stage at which many of your overall fitness goals will begin to be realized.

Start each walking session with a gentle warm-up walk for three or four minutes to loosen your muscles. After you finish your workout, cool-down with a few more minutes of slow walking and then some gentle stretches.

Becoming a 30-minute walker

This program allows you gradually to build up to a thirty-minute walk over eight weeks. Not everyone will be able to do the program in that time. Follow the schedule at a comfortable pace but one that challenges you to move forward.

The program is based on the hard-easy training method. You make progress in training by pushing yourself to do more, but your body needs time to recover from the extra effort. The day after a hard workout when you walked faster or did extra mileage, schedule a day off, do an easier workout - less pace or mileage - or switch to an alternative type of exercise like biking, swimming, or strength training. Make it your goal to walk three or four times a week, but don't walk more than six days a week - give yourself a day off. Start each workout gradually, warming up your muscles by slow-paced walking. When you've finished, complete a gradual slow down of your pace with stretching exercises to cool down and relax your body.

No one is judging you or holding you to a timetable. When you reach the point at which you can do a thirty-minute fitness walk as part of your regular routine, you'll have something that you can count on for the rest of your life. If it takes a little more time to get there, don't worry about it, you're in this for the long haul.

Week 1: Walk 10 minutes, rest 3 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Rest 1 minute, then repeat.

Week 2: Walk 10 minutes, rest 1 minute, walk 5 minutes. Rest 1 minute again, then repeat.

Week 3: Walk 10 minutes, rest 1 minute, walk 10 minutes. Rest 1 minute, then repeat.

Week 4 and 5: Walk 20 minutes each session.

Week 6 and 7: Walk 25 minutes each session.

Week 8: Walk 30 minutes each session. If you're comfortable after the first couple of weeks, you may want to speed up this timetable and complete the program in five or six weeks.

TIP: You should always be able to carry on a conversation while you're walking. If you can't, you're going to fast and should slow down.

Walking Farther and Faster: The Next Steps in Fitness Walking.

A personal note: Not only does walking feel good, but when you accomplish a distance, you are instinctively challenged to try to go farther. Many of us have never attempted this kind of physical test before. Once you know you can do it, you become curious about how much more you can do - and thrilled by the excitement of trying.

After you've become a thirty-minute walker, you may simply want to continue to reap the benefits that accrue from that level of regular exercise. But if you feel you want to go on to new goals and levels of accomplishment, there are attractive options open to you. Two of the most interesting are going faster and going farther. Increasing your speed and mileage gives you a more potent aerobic workout with its conditioning and fat-burning benefits. It can also keep your program fresh so your workouts don't become boring or routine.

Try to become a forty-five-minute or a one-hour walker by adding a longer walk to your regular program. Select one day on your workout schedule for a longer walk and add gradually ten-minute increments to your workout until you reach a comfortable and invigorating longer distance. Always schedule a day off after your long walk for rest and recovery.

Here's a four-week program to follow to reach an hour. Bear in mind that these are only guidelines. It may take you longer to reach the next level comfortably. Don't go ahead until you are ready.

Week 1: Walk three days for 30 minutes each session. Walk 40 minutes for the fourth session of the week.

Week 2:Walk three days for 30 minutes each session. Walk 50 minutes for the fourth session.

Week 3: Repeat schedule for week 1.

Week 4: Walk three days for 30 minutes each session. Walk 60 minutes for the fourth session.

For more details on walking, for some of my personal anecdotes, tips and stories, for clothing guidelines, I encourage you to buy my book.

A Running Program: Making Strides for Sanity and Vanity

After you have done the beginning walking and running program for a few weeks, and are comfortable with your workouts, you may be ready to take the next step. The following schedule is designed to turn you into a continuous 30-minute runner in 10 weeks. Try to run three or four days a week. On the days you don't run, either rest or do some other training - biking, swimming or weight training - to give your body time to recuperate from running.

Not everyone can complete this program in ten weeks. If you need more time, take it. You're on your own schedule, and nobody is judging you!

Begin each running session with easy walking, shrugging your shoulders, rolling your head and starting very slowly. Work into your stride gradually. Finish of each run walking slowly, followed by light stretching.

Week 1: Walk 4 minutes, Run 2 minutes - Repeat four more times per workout for a total of 30 minutes of walking and running.

Week 2: Walk 3 minutes, Run 3 minutes -- repeat four more times.

Week 3: Walk 2 1/2 minutes, Run 5 minutes-repeat three more times

Week 4: Walk 3 minutes, Run 7 minutes -- repeat two more times

Week 5: Walk 2 minutes, Run 8 minutes -- repeat two more times

Week 6: Walk 2 minutes, Run 9 minutes- repeat once then run for 8 minutes

Week 7: Walk 1 minute, Run 9 minutes, repeat two more times

Week 8: Walk 2 minutes, Run 13 minutes, repeat once

Week 9: Walk 1 minute, run 14 minutes -- repeat once

Week 10: Run 30 minutes

TIP: You should always be able to carry on a conversation while you're running. If you can't, you're going too fast.

Getting Longer, Getting Stronger: Becoming a One Hour Runner

A personal note: Running is incredibly addictive--not only because it feels good, but when you accomplish a distance, you are often instinctively challenged to try to go farther. Many women have never attempted this kind of physical test before. Once you know you can do it, you become curious about how much more you can do and thrilled by the excitement of trying.

Becoming a thirty-minute runner may be your ultimate goal, or you may wish to revise your goal and crank it up a notch or two.

One of the best new goals for the thirty-minute runner is to try to run for a longer time. Not only is it easily measurable but it also gives a tremendous sense of satisfaction. Once you've finished a longer run, it's a real kick to drive over the same roads and see how much distance you covered on foot. You'll feel a sense of ownership over the territory you've run.

Treadmill runners don't experience this same kind of claim to territory. However, you can get a similar sensation by seeing the treadmill odometer register more mileage, or by watching the clock and seeing your staying power during a workout grow.

Becoming a One Hour Runner

The key component of this program is the one long run per week. It builds up endurance and lays the foundation for further progress.

Weeks 1 - 3: Right now you are running 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Your weekly commitment of time is 90 minutes. Continue doing this for three weeks.

Week 4: Run 30 minutes, 29 minutes, 35 minutes. Weekly total: 94 minutes

Week 5: Run 30 minutes, 32 minutes, 38 minutes Weekly total: 100 minutes

Week 6: Run 30 minutes, 33 minutes, 41 minutes Weekly total: 104 minutes

Week 7: Run 30 minutes, 34 minutes, 45 minutes Weekly total: 109 minutes

Week 8: Run 30 minutes, 36 minutes , 49 minute Weekly total: 115 minutes

Week 9: Run 30 minutes, 38 minutes, 54 minutes Weekly total: 122 minutes

Week 10: Run 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes Weekly total: 130 minutes

A personal note: When you are trying to increase your distance, some days feel good and others feel awful. Listen to your body. Be willing to back off. There is no hurry. These schedules are designed for the best possible circumstances, and sometimes you just need more time to adapt. Never move on to the next higher distance until you feel totally comfortable with the one you did today. I can remember once doing the same mileage for three weeks before I felt I had the strength to add a bit more.

I have many more tips and personal stories to help you be a better runner, to safely enjoy the sport, to eat properly and to help you select the right kind of shoes, clothing and sport bras.

I encourage you to buy my book.