Running as a form of exercise can feel very overwhelming in the very beginning. I remember the day it occurred to me that I can speed up my power walk speed and start running. It was seemingly very simple – walk a little faster, gather some speed and then, as if a plane takes off, ‘fly’ your feet off in an attempt to run.
That’s how I imagined it anyway. In reality, I would take off, so to speak, and a couple of minutes later, my belly would curl up in pain and my feet would get all wrapped up and start sliding on the ground.
Not a good look for a runner.
There I was ready to write off running as something that wasn’t for me when a pal said to me, ‘let’s run a marathon together’! It was for a great cause and one that was close to my heart. I couldn’t say no.
My pal was also out of shape so we decided to motivate each other and go for runs every morning, bright and early and slowly build up our running endurance.
The first morning, we could only master half an hour of power walking and about a couple of minutes of running. The next morning, the minutes went up to five.
And that’s the thing about running. Like any form of exercise, you need to keep at it and persevere.
Running, as is power-walking, is probably the best cardio workout out there. I’ve tried to list some points below that I feel are key factors for me to enjoy running:
You don’t need to pay hefty gym fees to feel you’re working out, just get your old trainers out, an old tracksuit and you’re ready. Of course, you can always invest in a better running attire which is a great motivator.
Have only 10 minutes this morning for exercise? Great! Get outside and go for a run. Maybe it’s just 10 minutes but it will make a huge difference in how you feel throughout the day. Sometimes a 10-minute run is all you need to start the day right.
- Great for your heart
Running helps prevent a variety of cardiovascular diseases. Regular runners halve their risk of heart disease. And other heart-related diseases.
- Great for building strength
A study discovered that runners cut their risk of knee osteoarthritis in half especially when compared to walkers. And it’s not only the joints that benefit. Bones and muscles get stronger too with each mile run.
- Makes you feel high, literally
When running, your brain pumps out the most important feel-good hormones, endorphins and endocannabinoids. These naturally boost your mood and gets you on a high, so to speak.
- Superb weight-loss exercise
It’s estimated that running burns on average around 12 calories per minute when running a flat-terrain 10-minute mile. Whoa, not too bad. Imagine going uphill or running at the beach. Calories burned – multiplied.
- Helps your core
Your gut is getting a workout similar to press ups and your posture is being straightened
- Helps fight depression
Being a long-time sufferer, I would never include this on the list unless I can personally testify for the effects. Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t replace a visit to the doctor but if you feel an episode is coming (a mild one, for sure), then going for a run may delay or even prevent it. All because of that high you’re bound to get, remember?
- Brings you peace and calm
Nothing quite like minding your own step and admiring the surroundings to clear your mind of any worry you may have or in other words, bring you back to the present. And our aim is to live in the present, correct?
- Suits all fitness levels
From the novice to the professional, running at your own pace suits all types. Just adjust your path and speed and you’re good to go.
Now that we got the benefits of running out the way, let’s see how you can start getting motivated to run.
- A higher purpose – motivation is welcome. If the list of pros wasn’t a sufficient motivation, find a higher purpose. In my case, the marathon cause. I don’t think I could have lived with myself had I given up. It would have weighed hard on my conscience. Find local charitable marathons for a cause close to your heart and see how that would put a spring in your step.
- Find an accomplice – a pal who nudges you on days where you’d much rather be having an hour longer in bed is your bestie or at least for the time being. Now my bestie eventually gave up and I had to keep motivating myself along the way but if you like making excuses and need a push, then by all means find a partner in crime.
- Seeking peace – as with any form of exercise, apart from being fit, finding inner peace is a good enough motivator. Worried about a work project? Then get outside, go for a run and see how possible solutions appear faster than the sun rises.
- Make an attire effort
This is of utter importance. When you invest in the right running attire, you’d feel more compelled to start using it. Same with the right running shoes. Make sure you leave them outside by the door. That’s bound to serve as a constant reminder the night before and hard to ignore in the morning when you’re looking for excuses.
- Get your tune on
Prepare a playlist with your favourite tunes, anything from what you turn to when you’re feeling down or when you need a push. You’d actually look forward to stepping outside if you know you’re accompanied by your uplifting music and again, set the right mood for the day.
What really didn’t impress me in the beginning was the stomach sharp pains I felt or the so-called side aches, when going for a run. A quick search online revealed side aches are usually caused by eating hard foods too soon before a run or drinking too much liquid. There went my morning juice but no regrets. Side ache problem solved. Keep in mind to also eat your breakfast after a run and not before.
According to some other information listed online, we were also committing some old running mistakes which would make anyone give up on running too soon.
One such mistake is starting out too fast. When attempting to run, you should always have some sort of a warm up. Whether that’s a quick stretch (do it at home if you’re shy to do it in public), or a quick power walk to gather speed prior to running is essential. And more so for beginners. Or corporate types who are used to sitting the majority of the hours of the day. Or anyone, really.
The other mistake we were guilty of committing was the fast intervals of running. Now unless you’re serial marathon runner who’s just completed 40k and won, or almost won, the contest, then don’t start out fast. Aim for a slower pace.
At the very beginning, when starting with a slow pace I felt like it was a big effort to lift my feet up off the ground. Stick with it, put the effort and the pace should gradually increase with time.
And one final remark, pick your surface carefully. Don’t start running on a beach or grass right away, pick a straight road at first. This also minimises the risk of injury and an elevated strain on your muscles.
After a year into it and a couple of marathons behind my back, I can proudly say I’m now a runner. Was it easy? No, of course not. It required perseverance on my part.
How do I feel about running a year later? Like I’m ready to take off each and every time!