“Have you been running the entire time?” A middle-aged couple asked. After gingerly laughing, I said yes. Apparently the couple saw me pass their home more than once. My neighborhood merges with another development, creating a beautiful landscape for my daily runs. Newly blossomed pink and white pear trees line the streets giving way to a whimsical and dreamy scene. As an allergy sufferer, the scene could be a runner’s nightmare. However, I’ve already started my allergy meds for the season, allowing me to thoroughly enjoy each moment.
I desperately wanted to stop and tell the couple that they too could run 10 miles. So can you! Really you can! If you you’re laughing at my suggestion, compose yourself; stop laughing. I can help you to see my point.
Think for a moment about any professional: a doctor, an athlete, or an aerospace engineer. Each requires systematic education, training, and practice. Each must have an innate appetite for their chosen profession and no one could talk them from pursuing their dream career.
To become a runner, you must have the desire, barring any medical condition that would prevent you from doing so. If you lack the desire to run, don’t bother. Find another activity. When it comes to running, you either LOVE it or HATE it. I don’t believe that there is a middle-of-the-road in running.
Why do I say this? Running is physically demanding. Running means intense pounding on the concrete or black top that can negatively impact the knees, feet, back, and joints. Running is also mental. Yeah, mental in that every runner experience days where they are physically able to run, but for whatever reason, is not in the mood or simply don’t feel like running that day.
Those who don’t particularly enjoy the experience of running, surrender to the mental pressure and pass on the opportunity to run. As I said, either you LOVE it or HATE it. Running relaxes me. Mentally my mind is clear. Like the randomness of the wind, thoughts and ideas flow in and out of my head. Creative solutions to challenges often appear while running.
Okay so… for those of you who just can’t get into running, find another exercise that you can get excited about. Try biking, walking, zumba, belly dancing, or another fitness program that interest you.
For the wanna-be-runners…
1. Get approval from your doctor.
2. Invest in a good pair of running sneakers and dedicate those sneaks solely for running. It matters! I favor Asics, but buying running sneakers is a personal choice. Find a decent pair that fit well.
3. Set a realistic goal for yourself, such as half mile or one mile or 30 minutes.
4. Decide how often you will run. Two to three days per week is a good start. Get your iPod ready with a finger snapping playlist. When you want to stop walking or running, your favorite dance tune will inspire you to continue.
5. Eat and hydrate. Not necessarily immediately before you run, but within an hour or two before running. This is my opinion. Avoid high sugar content food; it’s contradictory to your purpose and will do more harm than good. Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins are best. Don’t rely on gimmicky sports drinks, supplements, or energy bars.
6. Decide if you will run inside or outside and dress comfortable and accordingly. As much as I prefer to run outdoors, I don’t run before sunrise or after sunset; it is not safe.
7. Begin with a few good stretches. Warm up by walking then slowly start to run. Run at a slow but comfortable pace. When you feel out of breath, change to a brisk walk until you regain your breath, then return to running. After completing your goal distance stretch again. If you experience pain or shortness of breath you should immediately contact a doctor.
8. Record your progress; your time, distance, and how you feel. If you want to, you can also track your pulse/heart rate. Stretch again after you finish. Stretching will help to prevent injuries and soreness.
9. Find a partner who is as passionate as you are about running. Partners are good for encouragment and help you to stay focused.
10. Register for a local running event. Start with a 5K walk or run (3.1 miles) Active.com is a great website to find local runs, events in other states, cycling events, and a long list of other activities. When you take part in an official event, you will meet other enthusiasts–young and old who will inspire you to keep running. You will also meet seasoned runners who are usually eager to give advice to novice runners. Your best benefit is the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing the event.
11. Track your mileage on your sneakers. Everyone is different, but I like to trade my kicks in at 300-400 miles. Even before I notice that I’m nearing my mileage limit, I usually feel discomfort in my hips and/or knees, suggesting that it’s time for new sneakers. I should rotate sneakers, but since I spend over $100 on sneaks, I only buy one pair at a time. More money is spent on my running sneakers than my work shoes. Funny but true!
If you follow these few tips, in no time you will be running longer and having a blast. Oh, the other added benefit is… running will help you to shed unwanted pounds and help you to get into shape. That is of course if you maintain a healthy diet and avoid indulging in processed foods and foods that contain high sugar, fat, and sodium.
Good luck and remember… keep it movin!