If you’re looking for a reason to get running, then this might inspire you – a new study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that people who run as little as once a week have a lower risk of early death compared with people who don’t run at all. Personal trainer Rachel Grunwell, who coaches runners, and is also a yoga teacher who specialises in working with athletes, talks about getting started and how to stay motivated.
There are so many things to love about running. First up, it’s a free activity and there is no need for an expensive gym membership, which can hurt your bank balance. Who else has an unused gym membership and “sponsored” a gym in the past? Some people have goal regrets – I have gym fee regrets. Running requires no expensive machines that isolate muscles and force you to whimper. Nope, there’s none of that when you are on the run. There are no mirrors too, thank goodness! There’s no red-faced image to witness while sweatsoaked. Instead, we can make up our own reality regarding our possible athletic-like appearance. That inner-voice can say, “Yes, I look like the girl in that activewear ad!” Or am I the only one who will own up to the delusion that they hope they look better than they do?
All you have to do is own a pair of running shoes. Okay, a pair of cute shorts and a sweat-wicking tank top helps too – budget allowing. Running gives you a chance to be in nature, which is good for your soul. Running gets you out into the sunshine to get some vitamin D, which helps lift your mood. It will also get your endorphins flowing. Endorphins are a chemical in your body that can boost happiness levels.
There is no gym timetable to dictate where and when you do it. You can do it before work or it’s a great way to break up the day if you fit it into a lunch break. Running at the end of your work day can also be a great way to unwind. Some people choose to run solo – either with music, or without it. While others prefer to run with friends to make it more fun and to help them stay on track. This is also a great way to combine a catch-up with exercising too. But hang on a minute, starting to run is not altogether fun. I’ll explain how long it took me to finally get that runner’s high.
Start with two to three runs a week with recovery days in between, says Professor Kilding.
Depending on your starting fitness level, you may need to alternate between periods of walking and running but it won’t be long before you reap the rewards of your body’s ability to adapt and can run continuously. “Gradual progression of volume and intensity is the key,” he says. “As you become more accustomed to running over several weeks, mix in some runs of higher intensity when you’re ready, such as shorter bursts of faster running, followed by recovery periods (walking). This higher intensity will further challenge your heart, muscles and metabolism resulting in gains in fitness.” The professor recommends adding in some whole body strength exercises, a day or two a week, to improve performance and health, and reduce risk of injury.
New runners should not try to run too far or too hard too early on. “As a beginner, you shouldn’t get out there and try to run every day of the week. This puts the body under too much stress too soon and is likely to result in injury before the body has a chance to adapt,” he explains.
Although there is no clear consensus from research, progress running volume each week by no more than 10 percent to avoid injury – small progressions are best. This stresses the body, you get time to recover, then you stress it again, recover. “It’s like a staircase and you build up in strength,” he says.
See more in December issue of Good Health & Wellbeing magazine
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