Exercising with a friend is a good way to start a fitness routine.

How to Establish a Running Routine

Now that you’ve signed up for the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon and started training, you’re probably noticing that it can be tricky to fit running into a busy schedule!

“I’m a full-time working mom, so I’m in the same boat,” says Jodi Thirtyacre, captain of the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon and 5K Teams. “I don’t train year round for a half marathon; I just don’t have the time to commit. During most of the year, I run consistently three to five miles, four to five days a week. But I like to run one or two half marathons a year, and I know that if I have a race coming up, I have to train for it. So I kick up my distance six to eight weeks before the race.”

When you first start running, it’s important to take it slow and go easy on yourself. Start off running 12-15 minutes at a time (about a mile) five days a week. Everyone has 15 minutes to spare in the morning, afternoon, or evening. When this feels effortless, go to 20 minutes. Again, 20 minutes is not very long. By this time you may be running 10-minute miles, which means 20 minutes is two miles already. Work your way up to three miles, and you’re ready for a 5K! After that, just keep building. Keep it consistent and soon you’ll be ready for a half marathon.

Finding the best times to run isn’t easy. Experiment a little, and once you find some times that work, try to stick to them. Says Jodi: “I find that getting a couple of three-mile runs in during the week is doable, and then I do one or two longer runs on the weekends.”

“I like to train with a buddy or group, because I’m less likely to skip out,” she adds. “On weekdays, I usually run during my lunch break or after work with a co-worker. I run once a week with a Kaiser Permanente running group and I’m also a team member of a San Francisco running group, Pamakid Runners, a club that organizes team participation in Bay Area running events throughout the year.”

Running with a friend or in a group keeps it fun and makes it easier to motivate yourself, says Jodi. “We talk, we catch up with each other, we discuss issues that have been bugging us, and share best technique suggestions. We motivate each other up the hills–-in San Francisco there’s no escaping hills! When we’re going up a hill, we have a mutual understanding that there will be no talking until we’re over the top.”

Jodi invites any Kaiser employees to join the group runs. “We run on Monday evenings after work, even when it gets dark. Then we all wear headlamps and look like complete dorks! It’s a great support group and makes the run go so much faster.”