Whether it’s to de-stress, get back to your prenatal shape, or to simply pick up a good fitness regimen, running is an exhilarating (and cost-efficient) way to do it all.
One of the quickest ways to get fit or lose weight is to simply (and quite literally) hit the ground running. After all, with just a good pair of trainers and some spare time, you can already get a move on the road to fitness.
Not quite sure how to begin? No sweat. We’ve tracked down the best tips from select experts-coaches, trainer, and real-life pro runners-to help get you started on the right foot.
It’s easy to start running, even if you’ve never been the active type, as long as you start properly. “First, consult a doctor, especially if you are over 35 years old. Check for ailments such as hypertension, asthma, and heart, lungs, eye or ear problems, which may affect your running.
Once you get a clan bill of health, you can start easing into a beginner’s running program. Aim for about three to four times a week, from 20 minutes to an hour each time, with a 10-minute warm-up and cool-down. Stretching should also be done after the workout-not before-when your muscles are already warm.
Maintaining good running form also helps you run faster and put less stress on your body. A few pointers: Focus your eyes on the ground about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you, land lightly on your mid-foot and keep feet low to the ground your hands and shoulders relaxed.
Most people begin running for health benefits and weight loss. “It does burn more calories compared to other aerobic sports such as cycling and swimming. Of course, this depends on the intensity of your run.
“Running is also an ideal energy booster and stress reliever. It improves your overall outlook and increases endorphins (natural body chemicals that reduce pain) – an effect also known as the ‘runners’ high.”
As a healthy activity, running also proves to be very affordable and accessible. Not only can you run alone or in an organized social group, you can also run pretty much anywhere and anytime you choose.
As with most strenuous activities, it’s best to start slowly. “A lot of runners get injured due to lack of a proper program and training. Their legs are not prepared to run a certain distance. We call this the ‘TMTS’ – the ‘Too Much, Too Soon’ Syndrome.
“With races schedules almost every week, runners tend to push them selves to the limit. They exceed their recommended pulses rate or end up getting Runner’s Knee, Plantar Fascitiis, ITB (Iliotibial Band) Syndrome, and the like.”
Go, go, go food
To fuel your workout, make sure to consume easy-to-digest food such as bananas, yogurt, toast, or oatmeal an hour before hitting the road. Wash these down with water or a drink that contains electrolytes. “Immediately after your workout, there’s a 30-minute window in which you should replenish all the necessary nutrients and calories depleted during the run.
To maximize the benefits of running, the best thing to do is to follow a proper running program. “A good one will always include a mix of 30 seconds each for up to 10 minutes, tempo runs of sustained effort for 20 to 40 minutes, and long and steady runs. “Always be consistent with your training. Adapt it to your lifestyle, and learn to love it so you won’t become bored!”
Runners who take high-traffic roads should also be aware of road rules and regulations, such as running against traffic and stooping at every intersection. “It’s advisable to run in groups and wear bright or reflective clothing, especially when running during the night or early morning. “And listen to your body. Observe when you feel pain or discomfort other than muscle soreness. If symptoms worsen after some rest, then consult your doctor.”