Serious runners are renowned for their slender physiques, thanks to the hundreds of calories a good run eats up. If you’re a beginner, you’ll need to build up your endurance slowly. For starters, simply walk a block or two, then run a block, then walk again. Slowly increase your distance, about 10 percent a week. Three times a week over a period of several weeks, try to run longer distances and walk less. You may start out feeling like a sorry sack of potatoes, but you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you can progress.
“A runner friend of mine spent a good year hounding me to try it,” recalls Linda McCall, a 35-year-old teacher from St. Louis. “I couldn’t imagine dragging my poor body down the street, but I did want to lose 15 pounds, so a couple of years ago I finally went out one day early in the morning. I walked a half mile, then ran a block, then walked home. The next day, I ran a little farther, and the next day farther still. Before long, I was running for 30 minutes straight, which I continue to do three times a week. I’ll never run a marathon, but I feel great. And I’ve lost 20 pounds—not 15!”