– by Wendy Morley, Publisher –
Please share. It’s good Karma 🙂
Running seems to be the epitome of fitness, and for the most part, I agree with this assessment. Very few activities improve your cardiovascular fitness like running does. It strengthens your heart and lungs, tightens your muscles and yes, helps you burn calories/lose weight if that’s your goal. It also makes you feel fantastic during the rest of your life – improves your mood, helps you sleep and gives you more energy for everything else in your life. If you need some extra reasons to run, being a runner helps you get away from danger, makes you more able to rescue others from danger, and probably gives you a better chance at surviving a zombie apocalypse.
You Can Run
Two common reactions from non-runners to runners are: “I could never do that” and “I wish I could do that.” The response to both statements is: You can. Unless you are paraplegic or have some congenital disorder that does not allow it, you can become a runner, as long as you accept that becoming a runner is a process, and not an instantaneous action.
In my experience, what prevents a person from achieving their goal of running comes down to one thing: their own expectations.
My theory is that it stems from the fact that as kids, we all ran all the time. We ran around the playground for hours, never getting tired. For some reason, as adults many of us seem to have the expectation that we should just be able to pick that up again.
This causes would-be runners to feel embarrassment that they can’t keep up with seasoned runners, or that they get winded by the time they reach the end of the block, or that they have to take frequent walk breaks, or that by the end of a short run/walk.
But there is absolutely no reason to feel embarrassment about any of this. The vast majority of runners you see started as adults (rather than continuing on running teams throughout adolescence, for example), which means almost everyone you see running was once a beginner like you. And runners are a very welcoming lot. They love to see others picking up their passion. They understand the triumph of that first walk/run or the first time you can get around the block without stopping, and they’ll sincerely cheer for you with every step you take. If you’re overweight and the effort is tougher then they’ll cheer even louder.
Here then, are my tips for becoming a runner:
1. Start With a Walk/Run
Even if you are in pretty good shape from other activities and feel you can complete a whole run without walking, running involves many different parts of your body – your leg and glute (butt) muscles, your core, your heart and lungs, your connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) and your proprioreceptors (sensors throughout your body, including those that help you not turn your ankles) – and all of those parts must be strengthened gradually, to prevent you giving up and to prevent injury both.
When I began running I was in pretty good shape after many years of regular training, but running was still hard for me, despite the fact that I’d run competitively as an adolescent. I started with 50 steps walking/ 50 steps running, graduated to 75/50, then 100/50, and then to walking when I needed to.
2. Accept Where You Are, and Increase Slowly
The biggest reason people quit is that they try to do too much too soon. Your sessions should be challenging, but not prohibitively so. Push yourself to do a little more but don’t push yourself to the point of collapse – and not only because that might be dangerous, but it will also make you dread your next session. When you finish your session you should feel tired but good and exhilarated. If you are already exercising regularly then you can start with 20-30-minute sessions. If you haven’t been exercising at all, then start with 15 minutes. Set three sessions per week; every week, increase your distance and the time spent running vs walking by about 10%. You’ll never feel like you’re pushing yourself too hard but in under three months you’ll have improved greatly, and should start actually feeling good when you run!
3. Find and Keep Good Form
Hold your stomach in and run tall at all times. If you find yourself slouching and bending over when you are running, you’re pushing too hard. Walk for a bit.
Here’s my trick for finding your proper gait. Much has been said about barefoot running (for and against), cushioned shoes vs non-cushioned, support vs non-support. I’m not going to get into any of this here but nothing will help you land correctly like a little “barefoot” running. I always recommend getting into a pair of socks, no shoes, and running on the treadmill for just a couple of minutes (longer will rip up your feet). You will find that you land properly, and when you lace up your running shoes you will naturally find the same gait. You can do this little exercise once every week, two weeks, month … however often you need to help your body become accustomed.
4. Run With Others
Even the smallest town will have a running group, and you should be able to find a group for beginners with little effort. If you know some people who already run, they’ll probably be thrilled to help you on your journey. Don’t feel bad that you’re holding them back. You’re not. They’ll do their own scheduled runs separate from the ones they do with you. You’re just giving them the opportunity to share their passion with a new person, which when you think of it is a gift, no?