Running is one of the easiest sports to get into. All you need is a pair of tracks, a t-shirt and a good pair of shoes. And of course, a good deal of motivation! But many new runners expect immediate results and when this doesn’t happen, they either stop or become disinterested. It is also harder than people expect it to be, and it doesn’t always result in a runner’s high. So what do you need to stay committed and enjoy the benefits of running in the long run? Let’s take a look.
The age and activity factor:
One of the first questions that you need to honestly ask yourself before you start running is- How fit am I for my age? Many of us tend to lie to ourselves. We either think we are healthier than we actually are, or we exaggerate our illnesses and turn into minor hypochondriacs. But when starting on a health or sport plan, it is important to be true to yourself and accordingly prepare yourself for running. If you have been an athletic teen and a reasonably active adult, then running shouldn’t take more than two weeks to get used to. If you are moderately active, still in your 20s or early 30s, and not overweight, a time period of 3 weeks to a month is what it would take to adapt to the vigor that running requires. People who are overweight and those who are trying to move out of a completely sedentary life are the ones who need to be prepared for the longest adaptability period.
What exactly does ‘adaptability’ entail when it comes to running? The first response to that would be- comfort. One needs to feel at ease with their pace and the way their bodies react to the run. Heavier runners might feel the pressure on their joints and heels, but it is important to get in tune with your body when you run so that you come to an understanding with your body about how to run right. Stamina is the next factor, but one cannot expect to complete 10 kilometers on day one, or even week one! Try walking and running in intervals till you are able to go the entire distance without being out of breath or in pain. Research has shown that running generates close to five times our body weight in impact with every footstep. Bones get harder and muscles get stronger, and that’s a process you cannot rush. So don’t go overboard with your expectations, and don’t compare your progress with anybody else. Adaptability varies with every individual, and only you can monitor your own improvement chart.
Running too much on consecutive days isn’t always recommended for beginners. Rest days and other workout plans need to be included in the weekly training plan to warrant the best results. Cross training helps in muscle strengthening and calorie burning, simultaneously breaking the monotony of running. Include Pilates, aerobics, weight training and other exercises in your week, and don’t forget to reward yourself with a day off from all this! But remember to warm-up before any activity. Check out our five essential tips to warm-up here
Guidelines aside, what beginners need more than anything else is the motivation to get out there. Make running a habit, and accommodate it in your schedule, no matter how busy you can get. Remember- the body achieves what the mind believes!