• Liz

Why We Run and How to Start Running

Why We Run

Most runners have a "why" for their running. Many runners start running with the hopes of improving their health both mentally and physically. Running is a fairly easy sport to get into because you don't need any special equipment and you can do it anywhere. You can also run alone or with others. Running is great because its a way to get you outside exploring nature while improving your cardiovascular and aerobic fitness. If done right running is an activity that you can do for a lifetime. Here are some reasons we love to run:

  1. Running Keeps Us Healthy: Running can help improve our overall health including larger lung capacity, improved cholesterol levels, and increased energy levels.

  2. Stress Relief: Running is great for stress relief. Running is a time that you can have to yourself. People get stress relief from running in different ways. Some people like to use their run as a time to process their emotions and thoughts, which can put them more at peace. Others like to completely clear their mind of thoughts and maybe tune in to a podcast or some music to relax on their run.

  3. Meeting New Friends: There's no community quite like the running community. Runners are very supportive of each other and each other's fitness goals. Just go to a race and see the enthusiasm of everyone there. ​Heading to a race or a run club is a good way to meet other people with similar likes and interests.

  4. For the Pure Joy: Call it runner's high, call it a rush of endorphins, whatever you call it running can bring us a sensation of pure and utter joy. It always feels great to finish a hard workout and it leaves you feeling happy and accomplished.

Types of Running

There are different types of running that ​you can choose from when you first start. From the roads to the trails you're bound to find a type of running you like.

Road Running: With millions of race participants across the globe each year, road running is one of the most popular forms of running. Road running is simple because you can simple lace up and head out the door. Road running typically has you running on asphalt or concrete which are both hard surfaces but have a high level of impact on your body.

Trail Running: Trail running is a form of running that is done in the great outdoors! Trail runs are typically done on hiking trails which typically have uneven surfaces. These trails typically are more technical than running on the roads with a good amount of elevation gain and obstacles. Trails are typically softer surfaces to run on which leads to less pounding on your body, but with the obstacles and uneven surfaces trail runners needs to be balanced and aware of their footing.

Track Running: A standard track is 400m around. Track events include shorter events such as the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints, and also includes longer distanced events including the 5k and 10k. The track is a great place to do speed workouts once you're ready to pick up your pace.

Treadmill Running: The treadmill is a great alternative to run outside. Sometimes getting outside for your run can be hard depending on the season. You can utilize the treadmill if the weather is dangerous (e.g. slick icy trails, thunderstorms). The treadmill can also be used to familiarize yourself with how paces should feel because they are programmed to turn at whatever pace you have set them to.

How to Get Started

Are you new to running? Looking for tips to get started? Look no further! These running tips will help you get started on your running journey.

Start with the Run/Walk Method: Everyone can be a runner it just takes time to build up. Most people can't just walk out the door and run a 10k. The best way to start without getting to overwhelmed is the run/walk method. The run walk method is a program where you combine intervals of running with intervals of walking. This is a good way to build up endurance over time at a manageable intensity.

Progress Slow and Steady: When you start to feel comfortable running for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, then you're ready to step up your training. This can mean a multitude of things, it could mean increasing the time of your workouts or increasing the number of runs you're doing each week. It is easy to progress too quickly though which could quickly lead to injury or burnout. Its best to increase in little increments at a time. Maybe instead of running 2 miles, you could increase it to 3 miles or try running 4 days a week instead of 3 days a week. Try to stick to one variable change at a time though, changing too many variables in your training could lead to injury as well.

Set a Goal to Fuel Motivation: Setting a reasonable and tangible could help fuel your motivation. A good example of a goal is to pick a race that you want to train for or aim to be able to run a certain number of miles by a set date. Your goal should be specific and measurable, goals that are quantifiable give us an exact target to aim for. Try not to set vague goals like "I want to be healthier" because you can't measure your success which can lead to a decline in motivation overtime.

Don't Give Up!: When you start to feel like you don't want to do this anymore or that you're not getting anywhere think back to why you started running. Really focus on your "why." Did you start running because you want to feel healthy? Do you like getting outside and getting some fresh air? Does running make you feel stronger? Whatever your "why" is focus on it and keep going. You'll feel a lot better after finishing your workout even if you wanted to quit in the middle of it.

Don't Forget Your Warm Up: Heading out for a run can be the best part in our days, but a proper warm up is equally as important as our run. Running full speed on cold muscles is a great way to get injured. If you start out to fast without warming up you muscles you're putting yourself at risk for tweaked joints, pulled muscles, or something even more serious. A proper warm up should be completed no more than 15 minutes before your actual workout. Warm ups can be composed of jogging, walking, strides, and/or dynamic stretches (leg swings or walking lunges)

Don't Race All Your Workouts: Racing all your workouts will only leave you feeling constantly fatigued. Running as fast as your body can go all the time doesn't give your body enough recovery time between each run, especially if you're running almost every day. Easy paced runs are much less stressful on your body than hard efforts but still allow you to get in mileage. Easy runs help develop the cardiovascular system which is very important for the sport of endurance running. The general rule of thumb is to key 80% of your mileage easy. The key takeaway should be keep your easy runs easy!

Implement Strength Training: Strength training can benefit runners of all skill levels. Strength training can make you a stronger and faster runner. Adding strength training into your routine can improve running efficiency, improve existing muscle imbalances or weaknesses, help maintain lean muscle mass, and reduce risk of injury.

Just Get Out the Door!: The biggest step of getting started is simply lacing up and getting out the door! Don't compare yourself to other runners when you're first getting started. the best thing you can do is just start running and doing your own thing. Once you get yourself out the door that first time you can get into a routine and make it a part of your daily life.

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