Here we talk about how to go about a Walk to Run programme the Chatty Sparkly way. We look at the differences between Walk to Run and Couch to 5K and set out a gentle programme that is enjoyable and develops a love of running.
Whatever beginner’s running programme you choose you want to enjoy it. If we don’t enjoy the exercise we do then we are less likely to keep doing it! As we mentioned in our last but one video if you run hard and ‘huffy puffy’ in the middle ground, ultimately you will become fatigued and stepping out the door will be a struggle. So which programme do you choose?
What is the difference between Couch to 5K and the Chatty Sparkly walk to Run programme?
In the Chatty Sparkly Walk to Run approach there are no set running repetitions or walk recovery intervals. Instead you need to run as slow as you dare, listening to your breathing. As soon as you start to feel a bit ‘breathy’ then slow to a walk in order to recover. When your breathing has settled then you can set off again. It’s your own body that sets the length of the repetitions and recovery intervals.
Everyone is different
You may be able to run Chatty for 60 seconds when you start off or you may find that you start to get ‘breathy’ after 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter. As long as you listen to your body and keep it Chatty, saying to yourself -“If I can’t talk it’s time to walk” – then you will improve very quickly. Each time you go out run/walking you will find that you can run for longer.
How long should I run/walk for when I start?
Ten minutes run/walking is all you need to do in your first session. Walk for a good ten minutes first in order to warm up. Then set a countdown timer for ten minutes on your phone or watch. Once you press start set off running at a gentle Chatty pace, taking walk breaks as soon as you start to feel ‘breathy’. Stop when your timer buzzes and walk for another five minutes to cool down. You can repeat this session another time in the week if you like or simply go out for a brisk thirty minute walk as your other session.
What to do if you have a high level of fitness
If you are already fit because you do other sports or walk regularly, then you may find that you can run Chatty for the full ten minutes straight away. However, it is better to give yourself some walk breaks anyway. Your heart and lungs may not need it but your muscles and tendons will. They won’t be used to the extra stress that the impact of running causes. Be kind to them and have three or four walk breaks.
Have extra walk breaks if you feel any twinges
Because you are putting your joints and muscles under greater stress it’s important to listen to them. If you feel any calf soreness, shin pain, knee or ankle pain then slow to a walk. If it continues don’t push on to finish the ten minutes. Five minutes may be enough for you to begin with. Work with this until your body has got used to the impact of running. Your muscles and tendons will strengthen if you take a gradual approach.
How much to increase each week
The Chatty Sparkly Walk to Run Programme builds to a total of 40 minutes run/walking in ten weeks. You can increase the run/walk time by five minutes a week but it is better to have some weeks in your build up where you don’t increase the time. In these weeks you will notice how much more you are running than walking as you get fitter.
A suggested programme
Always start with ten minutes walking before you start any running. Once you are running for more than thirty minutes you can reduce this to five minutes. Finish each session with a five minute walk to cool down too.
5 minutes gentle walk, 5 minutes brisk walk, 10 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
Repeat week 1.
5 minutes gentle walk, 5 minutes brisk walk, 15 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
5 minutes gentle walk, 5 minutes brisk walk, 20 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
Repeat week 4.
5 minutes gentle walk, 5 minutes brisk walk, 25 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
5 minutes brisk walk, 30 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
Repeat week 7.
5 minutes brisk walk, 35 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
5 minutes brisk walk, 40 minutes run/walking, 5 minutes gentle walk.
Once you reach the 40 minutes of run/walking then continue to repeat this session until you find that you can run non-stop for the full 40 minutes.
From Week 6 onwards you can add four sparkles into your 25 minute run/walk time. Do a Sparkle whenever you feel like it. You will find guidance on how to Sparkle here.
How to use the Chatty Sparkly Walk to Run Programme with a group
The Chatty Sparkly alternative works well with running groups. You have to use breaks in order to regroup anyway, so these can be part of the ten minutes. Break up the ten minutes of the first session into two or three minutes sections. Bring your group back together at the end of each section by using ‘meet and retreats’ and ‘out and backs’. Within each two or three minute section each runner sets their own run/walk intervals by tuning into their breathing. The fitter runners may be able run non-stop for the two minutes but then you will be giving them the break their muscles and tendons need. You can increase the length of the sections by a minute each time the total run/walking time goes up.
What about hills?
It’s important to stay Chatty so if you come to a hill you will probably find you have to walk. Try and choose flatter routes for for first few weeks and then you won’t be tempted to push up a hill. You may feel that you are not running much otherwise. Don’t worry you will find that if you walk up the hills at first, as you get fitter you will start being able to run up them after a few weeks. As long as they aren’t too steep!
Remember our Chatty Sparkly Programme is a guide. Always listen to your body and only do as much as you feel comfortable with. You should finish each session feeling like you can do more. This is the key to enjoying your running.