I admit, I’m envious of those friends who run and join fun runs and marathons. I listen to their stories of running 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers or half-marathons. Deep inside, I wish I could do that, too, despite my age. Although I’m used to long-distance walking, I haven’t tried doing the distance with running.
Months ago, I received a new pair of running shoes. I like the brown and gray color combination accented by neon pink shoelaces that I decided to try it out one weekend morning for an hour walk to the bank and back. After that walk, I felt good.
Since then, I would walk an hour or two every weekend morning. After a few days, I saw runners at the park and I couldn’t get off my mind to try running soon. I don’t know if I could endure the exercise even to jog. Running can refer to the various speeds of movements ranging from jogging to sprinting. Therefore, jogging is a form of running.
So here are the reasons that made me run for health:
1. Running is easy. Running on the treadmill at the gym can be fun indoors but running per se is definitely easy. No equipment is necessary. All you need is just a good pair of running shoes and comfortable running outfit.
2. Running is hard. Running is easier said than done. Unlike walking where one foot stays on the ground while the other is on air in one cycle movement, running has both feet in the air within a cycle movement. The foot lands on the ground and would provide body support and at the same time it forces to move on the next cycle. The body then exerts its energy to move the muscles, pump blood from the heart, inhale oxygen to the lungs, and all those physiological needs of human kinetics. With all these movements, it increases metabolism, improves body composition and assists in weight loss.
3. Running is good for the knees and other joints. Running strengthens the bones and increases bone density. It is like keeping the joints well-oiled and maintained.
4. Running can relieve stress. Running has a psychological benefit as manifested in people experiencing the “runner’s high”, a feeling of elation, euphoria after running. It is recommended as therapy for people with clinical depression and people coping with addiction.
5. Running can prevent disease. It improves cardiovascular and respiratory health thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases. It also strengthens the immune system.
6. Running can make you live longer. Running, like all forms of regular exercise, can effectively slow or reverse the effects of aging. This could have significant implications in aging as well as learning and memory.
So how did I start the regimen? I realized that it takes time to get in shape. I started with the walk-run program, a series of alternating walking and running. Each individual has its appropriate speed and distance depending on its fitness level. Therefore, I suggest that you do the walking and running at intensity level that feels challenging but comfortable for you. Feel free to switch the rest day but make sure to have a day of rest each week. Don’t forget to warm up before the walking/running and cool down after.
Day 1: Walk for 10 minutes. For the next 6 minutes, alternate 1 minute running and 1 minute. Walk for 4 minutes. Do some stretching exercises to warm down.
Day 2: Do some personal muscle tone and strength training program. Do some stretching exercises to warm down.
Day 3: Walk for 10 minutes. For the next 8 minutes, alternate 1 minute running and 1 minute walking. Walk for 2 minutes. Do some stretching exercises to warm down.
Day 4: Do some personal muscle tone and strength training program. Do some stretching exercises to warm down.
Day 5: Walk for 8 minutes. For the next 10 minutes, alternate 1 minute running and 1 minute. Walk for 2 minutes. Do some stretching to warm down.
Day 6: Take a rest. No walking/running and exercises.
Day 7: Walk for 6 minutes. For the next 12 minutes, alternate 2 minutes running and 2 minutes. Walk for 2 minutes. Do some stretching to warm down.
See the progression? The key here is consistency and a slow increase in speed and distance. While running, it is best to pay attention to how your body feels. If you are gasping for breath or feel exhausted while running, it may be beneficial to slow down or try a shorter distance for a few weeks. If you feel that the pace or distance is no longer challenging, then you may want to speed up or run farther. By the end, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes without stopping — and you’ll be showing off a beautiful body under those sweatshirt and jogging pants.
Like any other exercise and sport, there is a potential for injury in running. Be careful and stay safe and keep your water bottles and muscle pain relievers handy. Happy running!
Issa Bacsa is a lifestyle blogger and writes for Bodylab, an online health and fitness store and website in Denmark.