Q | I agreed to do a charity run with a friend — but I hate running. What’s the minimum I can do to be ready for the race?
A | The actual amount of running you’ll need to do depends on the length of the race and your current fitness level, but there’s no getting around the fact that you will, indeed, need to prepare.
“The idea that you can make up for lack of volume through higher intensity is false,” says running coach Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running. This is disappointing news if you were hoping that kettlebell swings and once-weekly sprint sessions would be enough to take you from couch to 10K.
The good news is that you don’t have to run every single day, even if you’re just getting started. Three 45- to 50-minute sessions a week may be all you need, according to Megan Searfoss, founder of Run Like a Mother and RRCA-certified distance running coach.
You can begin with a run-walk effort, starting with a one-minute run followed by a three-minute walk, and gradually increasing the run-to-walk ratio. “It’s mostly about establishing the routine of going out and moving forward,” Searfoss says.
You also don’t need to kill yourself every time you run. According to Fitzgerald, you’ll get the best results if you spend 80 percent of your time training at a low intensity, where it’s comfortable to speak in full sentences. The other 20 percent of your training should be at a moderate-to-high intensity.
If you don’t have the time (or interest) to commit to running three days a week, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on supporting your friend or favorite charity. Consider signing up for a shorter distance — a 5K instead, for instance — and cut yourself some slack if you choose to walk part of the race. Or you might decide to support your friend with a sponsoring donation to the charity.
“Charity runs offer an incredible opportunity to pay it forward and raise money and awareness for various causes,” says Searfoss. “What people need to realize is that if they’re doing something like this, they need to do it for themselves as well, and take care of themselves while they’re doing it.”