Columnist Kelly Turner explores how to get running.

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While running can be tough on the body, I am a firm believer it is one of the best ways to shed fat and sculpt your lower half. I also believe that anyone can do it.

Running is not a matter of just lacing up your sneakers and hitting the road, however. It takes preparation: everything from picking the proper shoes to progressing appropriately with proper training.

The biggest mistake people make is trying to do too much too soon. It can seem frustrating, but you may have to build up your stamina more slowly than you feel you can handle.

There are many free programs you can download from the Internet that claim to whip you into marathon shape, but whether you want to race or just be able to run a mile without stopping, the basic principal is the same: interval training.

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Interval training mixes short spurts of running with walking. Try alternating one minute of walking with 30 seconds of running for 30 minutes. Increase the run time and decrease the walk time each week until you find yourself able to run for the full 30 minutes. From there, you can start adding minutes of running.

Many runners experience knee pain and ankle pain, either from increasing their run intervals or mileage too quickly or from their footwear. Running is a high-impact sport, even if you avoid the pavement in favor of softer terrain, like trails or a track, so proper footwear is key.

If you have never been fitted for a running shoe, go to a shoe store that specializes in running shoes and ask to be. They will recommend the best shoe for your foot, your skill level and your strike — the way your foot hits the ground when you run.

You may have heard of the barefoot-running craze and seen the new minimalist running shoes that simulate barefoot running but protect the soles of your feet from rough terrain. Advocates claim barefoot running is better for the bones and joints of the body, allowing you to run the way nature intended.

The controversy with the minimalist shoes, however, is that as their popularity has grown, so have reports of injuries. Manufacturers of these shoes advise that you ease into running in minimalist running shoes by wearing them only a few minutes a day so bones and muscles have time to adjust.

I suggest starting with regular running shoes and then, if you want to give barefoot running a try, transition after you are able to run for the whole 30-minute workout.

Running a few miles may seem like an impossible task to you right now, but if you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could be a runner, I encourage you to give it a try. Even if you don’t fall in love with the sport, it is a great way to shed pounds and follow through on a plan to achieve a personal goal.

Kelly Turner:; Turner is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified-personal trainer and fitness writer.; on twitter @KellyTurnerFit.


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