How To Start Running

Level: Intermediate

Running is the fastest and the least expensive way to feel better, get fit, and even start new relationships with other people who share the love for this amazing exercise. Contrary to the popular opinion, starting the habit of running is not difficult if you have a pair of comfortable running shoes and a desire to move at you own pace. If you still have not decided whether to get started with running and need some motivation, let me be your personal trainer for a minute. Let’s roll!

Benefits of Running

There are a lot of benefits in running for you. Scientists have long been studying the impact that the exercise has on our body and found that it has health benefits that extend beyond any medication a doctor could prescribe. Specifically, it is known to prevent a wide range of diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, it helps to lose weight!

In other words, running is one of the best calorie-blasting and butt-kicking workouts ever. Today, all these awesome benefits were proven scientifically and busted some of the myths people had earlier. For example, have you heard this saying that running is bad for your needs because it puts an immense load on them? Well, it’s a complete lie not based on any solid facts because the truth is pretty much the opposite: running improves knee health. Period.

If you are worried about “losing it” as you age, running is the right exercise for you. There is an avalanche of evidence proving that running slows down age-related mental decline and improves memory and attention. It also helps your brain to perform better. If you rely on a Starbucks double latte or espresso for getting your brain started in the morning, you should remember that running has the same effects plus it keeps heart healthy! Running, just like the coffee, raises the heart rate and increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. However, it does not increase the risk of heart attack, like the coffee does.

If you’re still unconvinced that running is good, listen to this: running makes you happier. How? The mechanism of this action is simple: running triggers the release of endocannabinoids, which are known as “feel-good” hormones. Simply saying, they are internally produced marijuana! Now, endocannabinoids are used to explain “runner’s high,” a sense of euphoria that people have after this workout.

So, how do these benefits sound? Ready to get addicted? Well, there are several other things you need to know, so let’s continue with our training session.

Mental Preparation

Believe me, you want to be as prepared as you possibly can because running can be just as tough mentally as it is physically. This means one thing: you should build mental toughness. Even if do not race against others (at least for now), you need to know about the traits of mental tough runners: strength, resilience, focus, vision, and trust. Let’s discuss them real quick.

Resilience and focus are the most important ones. First, resilience is your ability to bounce back from pain or poor performance. It’s simple: if you cannot admit your mistake and learn a lesson, you won’t be a mentally tough runner. Next, you need to keep focus in the face of distractions and address the situations instead of avoiding them.

One such situation almost ruined a running career of my friend who kept falling short of the distances given by his trainer. Eventually, he started to give up even more because he was not mentally prepared and thought he couldn’t do better. Only after he started running with a trainer who motivated him, he stayed true to course.

So, if you feel exhausted in the last mile of your workout and want to quit by thinking something like “come on, it’s just the last mile. I’ll do better tomorrow,” the only thing you should quit is thinking these horrible things! In case you need additional motivation, find a friend who is willing to run with you and make the exercise even more fun.

Other things to take care of

Conventional wisdom falls short when it comes to running shoes because there are many myths about them. Runner’s World gives a great explanation of the five most popular ones. For example, many people believe in the existence of the ultimate running shoes that are suitable for everybody. Well, they could not be more wrong because these shoes are designed for different types of feet and running. Thus, if some shoes worked great for your friend, that does not necessarily mean they will do the same job for you.

Another myth that I want to give a special attention to says that shoes can make a runner fast. Just remember all those Nike and Adidas commercials saying that their shoes will help you to jump higher and run faster. That’s the most absurd thing that I have ever heard about runners because shoes do not place jets on feet of people who wear them! I agree that they could protect the feet and keep you comfortable, that’s it. Your running power only comes from your heart, lungs, and muscles, end of story.

The lesson for you here is to select only perfect fitting shoes that will protect you from the stress of running. Make sure you get advice from an expert here.

Other critical things that we need to discuss are hydration and injury prevention. First, you need to avoid dehydration, so design your own hydration plan. Do not overdrink and remember that plain water is the best choice for short distances up to several miles and fluids with sodium are better for longer distances. For those who need more, I recommend referring to these hydration guidelines developed by the American Road Race Medical Society. As for the injury prevention, I prefer to listen to my body and know my limits. You should do the same.

The Bottom Line

Running is an incredible habit that has a lot of benefits. To make sure that you enjoy them, you need to prepare yourself and stay on the right course. Let these tips be useful for you to become an amazing runner!

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