One of the side-effects of having things like games and watching movies for hobbies, is that it doesn’t exactly help your physical well-being. While we all need time-off to relax and the hobbies that allows us to do so are perfect in this regard, we also need to ensure we remain healthy if we intend to partake in them for many years into the future.
One way of keeping fit is running. For those unfamiliar with the term, I’m referring to walking at a really fast pace. And yes, it’s best done outdoors. And no, it’s not something you only do when being chased by a horde of zombies (though you could argue that is exactly what a race feels like).
So while I’m sure many of you are active in many ways, I’m also sure that there are some of you that would like to get fitter and get started with running, but not sure how exactly. As someone who has somewhat of an obsession with the thing, I would like to offer some advice from my perspective to hopefully help move you from couch potato to mileage accumulator.
The first mistake people actually make with running and the reason why they claim to hate it is because they start off too fast. Unless you’re Akani Simbine, running shouldn’t be a sprint and it’s better to actually start off at a slow crawl than it is to increase your heart rate too drastically, despite what your heart rate monitor and medical aid might tell you. This also prevents you from getting injured as your body eases into the idea of running.
Image Credit: Orbon Alija
This might sound obvious, but it is something few runners, including myself, actually do often enough. You don’t need to be incredibly supple or need to over-do and end up more time stretching than running, but it is something you should do regularly and almost always after a run. (There is only value in doing it before a run if you intend running quite quickly and even then, should only be done following a warm-up run). What are the best stretching exercises? Well, that depends on your body, but the following list includes quite a comprehensive list of stretches that can be done. Focus on the areas that feel most tight to you immediately following a run, though it is important to perhaps work your way through all areas in the course of a week or so.
A little Core goes a long way
Running is not just about your legs, though it might not always seem that way. Running is essentially activate through your core, which is why you need to balance your running with some core training as well. The following core exercises are quite useful to develop the core needed for running and can also be combined with normal stomach crunches to develop your core and make running that much easier for you.
You may have already picked up here that the words ‘fast’ are not part of improving your running. Speed work should essentially only come later once you are comfortable running a 5km distance, otherwise you are likely to get injured. While some of you might want to enter a local 10km race to get you motivated and then ramp up from barely any running to completing said race in a short space of time, this is not the best approach and normally leads to you suffering more in your run than you should, leads to possible injury and is the reason people then stop running so quickly again. Rather ease yourself into it.
If you start out with a 2km slow run, do several more of those before increasing the distance or considering a tougher hilly route. The key to long-term running is getting your body used to it and the best way to achieve this is with slow increments. It might feel frustrating because you want to achieve more, but you will gradually improve and over time you will likely develop into a stronger and better runner than those friends who just jumped straight into the higher mileage runs.
Sorry to disappoint you, but if you want to keep running, you need to do it regularly. At least 3 times a week otherwise you will find your body won’t adapt as well as you would like. I know this means more time away from your TV and games but just imagine how much better you will feel when your gaming actually improves because your mind is suddenly a lot more alert. This may be an article about running, but it will also benefit you mentally too.
It might sound clichéd, but physical exercise is incredibly good for you. And even if you choose to get your physical exercise in another activity apart from running, what matters is that you do your best to keep a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of benefits to staying fit that I won’t go into detail here, but needless to say that as you get fitter, many things in life actually get easier. Don’t believe me and try it out.
Hopefully this will help you get motivated to run more and if it hasn’t, well remember that when the inevitable zombie apocalypse does indeed arrive, your ability to run faster might count for something. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Image Credit: Orbon Alija
Last Updated: January 27, 2020