I had never run for more than a minute until the last month. I was not too keen on sports in school, which was partly due to a school which sucked at physical education and partly because I just wasn't interested in football or even cricket for that matter. And I don't remember any volleyball. So all the running I did was when the occasion called for it - dropping my bicycle and running behind someone for a thumping or running and timing myself to grab the door rails and get a foot on the foot-board of a moving bus are times that I remember - no sprint races or marathons - and no I haven't been chased by a dog yet. But I always wanted to run, not like the wind, just run and keep running, naturally. So I signed up for the Vancouver Sun Run.
I have run for more than 10 minutes 6 times during the past month and today I ran about 10KM with less than 10 minutes of walking in between. So I am getting the hang of it. The training schedule lays it out in weeks before the run - you start a run with 5 minutes walking, then 3 minutes running, then 3 minutes walking and repeat for an hour for maybe 2 days in the first week and in subsequent weeks you bring the walking down and the running up until you can just keep running. Well I haven't been following that precisely. But yes I have been alternating between running and walking - mostly because some of the leg muscles that one uses for running are just non-existent in me and secondly because I get winded - which is not that often because I do go to the gym occasionally. So stamina is not up to mark but okay, but my legs, they are just not used to running long distance yet. There is (or should be) this muscle that runs up from the inner side of the ball of one's ankle sideways in a line to the knee cap, over the shin bone - not in the fleshy part of one's leg where you expect muscles to be - or maybe its just the bone that needs strengthening - anyway right now that is the only problem I have. With that in shape and a bit more stamina, I can run 10KM in under 55 minutes easily. And I have to get there before April 20th.
Rhythm definitely plays a part. I take 4 steps when breathing in and 4 more when I am breathing out and I did read somewhere you have to breath in deep to avoid side stitches and cramps. A problem is nose drip. My respiratory system is still trying to figure out what happened to all the warm humid air and so I have to blow my nose every 10 minutes or so. I am rather skilled at nose blowing now - to get all the drip out with one quick parp and let in much needed air through a clean nostril is quite satisfying - I did puzzle a few dogs though.
You might find it hard to keep running when you are starting off, I did find it quite hard because of my paltry legs - but if you persist through the pain (and think about the pain being stuff breaking down and healing with muscle), after a while it goes away and you can just keep going.
Good music definitely helps.
My midsection doesn't seem to be affected. It seems to be a muscle of its own. Crunches strengthen it and running makes it healthier.
Smoking restricted to beaches and other pretty places or when people keep me waiting.