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Turn Your Walk into a Run

How to Start

Get the go-ahead from your doctor and invest in running shoes. Look for good cushioning, support, breathability, and traction; specialty running stores have pros who can fit you with a pair and give you a test run on a treadmill. Before hitting the pavement, remember three keys to running success: Ease into the transition, set goals, and track your progress to stay motivated.

Gradually Up Your Endurance

Even if you're a super-walker, expecting to go from 30 minutes of strolling to running for the same amount of time is probably not doable. Results don't come overnight; be patient and plan to progress slowly but steadily. "Endurance is the result of moderate or higher levels of aerobic exercise over time," says Reiff. "Increasing the duration of your run or walk is the key element to building endurance." Walking or running one mile or 10 minutes more a week, exercising more frequently, or working a bit harder are all ways to build stamina.

Making a gradual transition also prevents wear and tear on your body. Former Olympic runner Jeff Galloway has coached more than 200,000 walkers and runners, and he tells them to "train, don't strain." What's the difference? "Those who increase mileage too fast or push into stress as noted by huffing or puffing often get burnt out," said Galloway. In fact, most running coaches advise beginners to do no more than two to three running days a week. Instead, to avoid injury, follow a sensible training plan, always warm up, and go at your own pace—there's no need to compare yourself to others.

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