• A free online chatbot created a running program that helped a skeptic learn to love exercise. 
  • The bots advice matches tips from an expert running coach on how to prevent injury. 
  • To try it at home, start slow and gradually work your way up to long runs — don’t overdo it. 

A workout plan created by ChatGPT helped a man get hooked on running and lose 26 pounds, and a coach said the computer-generated advice is actually helpful. 

Greg Mushen, a Seattle-based tech pro who hated running, previously told Insider he asked the free, online chatbot to help him build a healthy exercise habit.

Three months later, Mushen said he runs six days a week and looks forward to his workouts. But at first, he was surprised and a bit skeptical of the AI-generated advice. The bot’s plan involved small, simple steps over time, starting by telling Mushen to just put his shoes next to the front door. His first run, three days into the program was just a few minutes long. 

It turned out that ChatGPT has the right idea. A very gradual approach to running is ideal for beginners to make progress while avoiding injury, according to an exercise physiologist at the Boston Running Center, and author of “Pliability for Runners.”

“The biggest mistake is always too much, too soon, whether it’s too much at a time, too frequently, or too fast,” McConkey told Insider. 

The best way to start, and maintain, a running habit to get fit and improve your health is little by little, he said. 

All runners can benefit from simple habits like setting your shoes by the door

One of the most surprising parts of the workout generated by ChatGPT was that the first steps of the plan didn’t involve any running at all, Mushen said. On day one of the plan, his only task was to put his shoes by the door, and on day two he just needed to schedule a run on his calendar. 

“Even doing that small task, I was bought in,” he said. “It was just so easy that when I was done, I remember feeling accomplished.”

These little habits may seem insignificant, but you can still benefit from such small wins, regardless of your running experience.

“We’re all fighting through days that it’s harder to get out, so you want to use any sort of pre-planning, visualization, or related habit to get you out the door,” McConkey said.

Build a healthy running routine by starting slow and steady

Mushen said his initial running sessions generated by ChatGPT were so short, he wasn’t even tired by the end. 

That’s ideal for beginners — to get started with running, you don’t need to push yourself to exhaustion, and in fact that’s actually counterproductive, according to McConkey.

“A beginner runner shouldn’t think about challenging themselves to the point of soreness for at least three months. It’s about building the habit, and building volume over time,” he said.”In other words, you need to earn the right to push yourself that hard to then safely and efficiently get the most out of it.” 

A good first goal is 30 minutes of continuous movement, slowing to a walk if you get out of breath and can no longer carry a conversation, and alternating between running and walking as needed. 

Then, work up to doing this daily, or to your goal frequency, and eventually running the full 30 minutes continuously. At this point you can then aim to increase your duration with one longer run per week, working towards one run 60 minutes continuous.

The key is spending time on your feet, and those minutes add up. 

“Learning to do your habit of exercise, no matter what life obstacles get in your way,  is a critical skill for long-term success,” McConkey said. 

Try the foam roller test to see if you’re running too much 

Mushen said as he ramps up his running routine, he also prompted ChatGPT to help him navigate some aches and pains that cropped up. 

But ideally, you want to avoid those in the first place. McConkey said a simple foam roller test can help determine if you’re pushing too hard on your workouts.

Before heading out on a run, use a foam roller on muscles like your calves, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

After the run, foam roll again — those muscles should feel exactly the same, McConkey said. If they’re tighter or more sore, you overdid it. To get ready for your next run, spend time regularly on the foam roller until you are back to your baseline. 


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