Summer is coming and many of us have promised that this year, we will get fit. We each have our own reasons: we want to look good at the beach, or in the summer fashions, or we just want to improve our health. Many of us have tried complex "get fit" programmes before, the gym membership, aerobics, Zumba, and these elaborate schemes have so often failed. So why not try running? What could be easier? After all, doesn't it just involves putting one foot in front of the other, quickly? Well, yes and no. While running comes naturally to almost all of us, it is by no means easy. Here are five simple tips to help you become a successful runner.
1. Good shoes These are the only things on which you need to spend money. Do not be tempted to make do with an old pair of trainers. Bad shoes can cause cause hardships, unhappiness and even injury. Having said that, you do not need to buy the most expensive, top-end runners. They simply need to be designed for running and be a good fit. Take time to find the shoes that are right for you.
2. Motivation a) For many people. the main motivation will be to lose weight. Running a mile burns approximately 103 calories for women and 124 calories for men, which is twice as much energy per mile and four times as much per minute as walking – which makes running a very quick and efficient efficient way to burn calories and lose weight.
b) Cardiovascular health. Regular running brings many health benefits for the cardiovascular system, including lowering the blood pressure, increasing the heart size and capacity, and developing stronger breathing muscles.
3. Goal Remember, you do not need to run like Usain Bolt or Sally Pearson to be successful. You just need to identify and select a goal that is right for you. Perhaps you want to run a circuit round the park and to tone the legs and body, or perhaps you aspire to run a full marathon. Both are legitimate and worthwhile goals. Select whatever suits you.
You don't have to be as good as him to be a successful runner ... (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
4. Schedule Before starting on your running programme, get a health check from your doctor. Then identify convenient times for your exercise programme, for example 3 evenings a week. As with all new activities, it is best to start modest and build up slowly. Start with a gentle 20 minute programme that includes alternate running and walking over distances of 100m. Remember to stretch well before each session, especially muscles in the legs and torso that will be loaded during exercise. Then, as time goes by, gradually increase running component until you can run the full 20 minutes. Listen to your body and let your fitness develop at a pace that suits you. Push on if your body is happy with the workload, but slow down or back off if it finds it difficult. Once you are able to comfortably run for the full 20 minutes, and especially if you look forward to the hit of endorphins that follows, then you have become a true runner. Congratulations.
5. Discipline You cannot become a runner by thinking about running. You actually have to get out there and do the work. This needs discipline. Having identified how many times a week you are going to run, you need to stick to that target. It is OK to miss an occasional session, but remember to make up for it later. Also, and this is important, you need to be disciplined about you rest days. Getting fit involves loading the muscles, and they need time to recover from the strain and grow in strength between sessions. Ironically, being undisciplined about rest days is a good way to become injured and to set back your development. Finally, remain disciplined about your objectives. You may often get passed by other runners, especially during your early training sessions. Ignore them and focus on your own goals. They have probably been doing it longer than you; and they are just showing off; and nobody but nobody likes a show-off.
With the approach of summer we all want to make good on our promise to get fit. Summer's warm days and long evenings are perfect for running through Australia's green parks and streets. So go on, strap on a pair of runners, get out there and enjoy yourself. Your heart will thank you for it, your looks will thank you for it and, when the endorphins start to flow, you will thank yourself for it.
Running with a buddy can help too. I used to enjoy running, and in summer would get up early and run with a friend. That 5:30am wake up was a lot easier when I knew that my friend was counting on me. It really helped with the motivation on mornings when I did not want to get out of bed.
Some great tips, but if I can just add, for girls, there is one other thing you should invest in besides shoes - a good sports bra! Some fast paced music or talk radio is a good companion and distraction while running (I find it better not to hear myself heavy breathing) and if anyone needs convincing that anyone can run, I was able to train for the 12km city to Surf in less than four months. I started out only being able to manage half way around the local park!