I gave in and added jogging tips for healthy guys over 40 and for younger people. There's a secret to speed!
Stretching before you exercise is old school. Modern coaches who keep up with the latest research know the new principle:
Never stretch a cold muscle; stretching is not a warm-up.
You should only stretch warm muscles; therefore, stretching cannot be a warm-up.
Instead of stretching, start slow. Nowadays, a good distance runner will run a mile at a slow speed to warm up. A poor distance runner will walk for 10 minutes to warm up before he or she runs. A weight lifter will do light weights before he hefts the heavy ones.
There's some things to consider here. If jogging-walking or running at a slow, leisurely pace-means walking slowly for you right now, then you need no warm-up. Your exercise is warming up.
Varying your speed helps your joints and your muscles. Your muscles don't do the same things over and over, so they don't get so stiff.
You were not made to run, run, run, or to walk, walk, walk. You were made to run, walk, go up a hill, go down a hill, go over soft ground, go over hard ground, go over rough ground, cross a creek, climb over a couple rocks or through a couple gullies …
You get the idea. Varying what your muscles are doing makes them supple and keeps them from stiffening.
I met a 78-year-old who would run 5 miles, then do 75 sit-ups with his feet in the air. (He wasn't in the pain you would be in if you did this. Take it easy.) You can work on this for the rest of your life.
In fact, a better example were two men in their 70's who used to come into the health spa I worked in. They would hang out in the spa for a couple hours every day, chatting with one another. They would climb on the climbing machine for a couple minutes, then spend 5 or 10 minutes on the stair stepper, then chat a while, then tinker with some other machine.
One of those guys was 78 as well. He wasn't in the kind of shape the 5-mile-running 78-year-old was in, but he was active, happy, clear-minded, and in no imminent danger of going to a nursing home.
That's where you and I want to be.
Shift things around. Vary your speed, your terrain, and your scenery. It'll keep you going, and it will keep you flexible and mobile.
You may or may not know this, but a lot of over 40, very fit men have had heart attacks and died while they were jogging. In fact, in 2002 four middle-age, fit, jogging physicians—Dr. Michael Gallagher, Dr. Frederick Montz, Dr. David Nagey, and Dr. Jeffery Williams-all died of heart attacks … while jogging … in a seven month period … in Baltimore!
How unusual is that?
One exercise authority I read suggested that the reason that so many fit, middle-aged men die of heart attacks while jogging is because they do the same thing over and over and over every day. Their hearts are conditioned for two speeds, sitting and running. Anything in between is still a danger.
I don't know if that's true, but I do know that if you want to improve your fitness, it is best to vary the strenuousness of your exercise.
World-class runners vary their workouts, alternating easy days with hard days. Even their hard days vary. A world-class long-distance runner will normally do one long run per week, one tempo run (medium distance at near race pace), and one interval day (repeated short runs at faster than race pace). In between they will either rest or have an easy, slow day.
You should do the same, just with not so much effort. Remember, you have to do this for the rest of your life, so you have to do what's easy!