Running is the simplest way to improve your cardio and burn a lot of calories (look at professional runners, they have not a gram of fat…). Most magazines say you are only ready to run if you have been doing cardio on an elliptical or stationary bike before; but, didn´t you have a first time on a stationary bike as well??
Many people have asked me the very same question lately: – How do I start running?
To be honest, as with many exercise routines, the best way to start is to give it a try. Don´t feel intimidated, if running were so difficult there wouldn´t be marathons with thousands of people all around the world, every year. Here is my best advise:
Start jogging/walking: Maybe you are looking for that feeling of freedom Forest Gump had while the leg braces broke; but, in order to get you there, we must walk and jog first. For example, if you only have 30 minutes, take the first and last 5 minutes to walk, then do 4 minutes walk/ 1 minute jog for the 20 minutes in between. Once you feel comfortable, increase the jogs to 2 min and decrease the walks to 3. In less than you think you will be able to jog for the whole 30 minutes.
Once you can jog for 30 minutes non stop, the “jump” from jogging to running is as simple as timing yourself and try to be faster. But that´s material for another blog… 😉
Prepare your knees: Whatever you do to your knees now, they will send you an invoice for… sooner or later…
If you don´t want to be part of the thousands of runners with knee pain (like myself), you MUST warm up. Warming up isnt only about elevating body temperature but, most importantly, its about your joints segregating synovial fluid. Think of synovial fluid as a tiny gel mattress that inflates and covers your bones so you have less impact on your joints. My favorite movement I actually learned while doing karate years ago: perform slow circular movements, both clockwise and counter-clockwise, until the joint seems to move smoothly. (Here´s a video that shows the movement in 30 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ptbP5xTIdw)
Prepare your brain: After a few weeks training you can actually get an “exercise high” from the endorphins released on your blood torrent. That high is what will make people keep coming back and you can even develop a healthy addiction to it… While we wait for that to happen, follow my lead:
If you attend a gym, hit the treadmill at not busy hours (early morning or afternoon seem to be the best) so you are not annoyed by people waiting behind you. If you run outside, find a beautiful path and do take the time to look around and enjoy it. Prepare yourself a cool music playlist: having the right music can make a great difference… even one less minute per kilometer!! And last but not least, if you enjoy partnering up: do it! Find runners clubs near you and go with them; whether you enjoy a chatty “God, this hill!” partner or just want silent competition, running with others increases your chances of not giving up so easily, which is very important when you are starting.
Listen to your body: Some muscle aches and soreness are to be expected (and you should feel proud of it!), it means your workout is working and your muscles are getting stronger. Nevertheless, you should know the difference between sore calves and a bad knee pain! If a pain persists for more than 3 days or if it interferes with daily activities, then it is time to 1. rest and 2. look for professional advice from a physician/orthopedist and a fitness trainer to give you a detailed routine you can follow by yourself without getting injured.
Go shopping: Yeah! Go shopping! 😀
You don’t need fancy equipment to run but a good pair of shoes is essential. Running stores usually have professionals to help you choose the ones for you; just don´t be fooled: the right pair of runners is the one in which you feel more comfortable. Once you have found the right pair of shoes, the smartest thing to do is stick to the brand… even if they don´t have the fanciest styles, you can save lots of money sticking to what suits your body (I´ve learned this from experience, after many new shoes given to charity…)
Enjoy it! While on action, think of the many benefits of running:
- With the exception of cross-country skiing, running burns more calories than any other physical activity!
- By increasing your heart rate and working the heart muscles your cardiovascular health is greatly improved.
- Running can increase HDL levels, which improves overall cholesterol levels in the body.
- Your immune system gets a boost through running with an increase in white blood cells; the fighter cells in the body, which can combat the early stages of diseases like diabetes and cancer.
- Running also improves bone health. Weight bearing exercises increase bone density and prevent injury and the onset of osteoporosis.
- Running improves lung capacity. If you normally find yourself out of breath after a few flights of stairs, you will notice that as you run more, you will be able to take more flights without getting out of breath because your lungs are becoming stronger.
- And finally, running can help boost your energy levels. Of course, it makes you healthier and this helps, but running itself gets your blood pumping and this DOES wake you up.
If you have any questions or comments, please do feel free to post here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the run! 😉