The greatest thing about running is that it is a sport in which everyone can participate, at least to an extent. The running boom of the 80s brought the chance to train and enter races to a huge section of the population. The London Marathon and the Great North Run are familiar words in our vocabulary, whether runners or not.
Running is one of the first things a child learns to do. As we grow older we forget how to run, preferring to take the car or the bus to our destinations. But the benefits of running can’t be denied. In recent years running has had its critics, who claim that it has a detrimental effect on the joints, however the latest scientific research suggests that this is not the case, which means that you have no excuse to not try it!
Today there are increasing concerns about the nation’s growing obesity. People are being encouraged to get fit and eat more healthily. What better way to get fitter than to take up running? Compared to other sports, costs are minimal. All you need are your legs and a pair of good running shoes. Open your door and you can start straight away. It does not take much time and can be slotted into your day as and when convenient.
Running is an excellent way of improving aerobic fitness and burning calories. Jogging for an hour can burn in the region of 490 calories, and can be done by anyone of any age if they are in reasonable health.
Before starting your running programme it is a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure there are no contraindications to your planned running programme. The only other thing you need to consider at the beginning is the purchase of a good pair of proper running shoes. Although these may be expensive initially, they will pay dividends in looking after your muscles and taking care of your feet. Add a pair of lose fitting trousers or shorts, a t-shirt and lightweight jacket and you are ready to go.
It is important not to start your training by opening your door and running as fast as you can to impress the neighbours. You will not get far! It is important to warm up your body before starting. If you are a beginner, walk steadily for 5 or 10 minutes first. This will increase the blood flow to the muscles, preparing them for what lies ahead. After you have warmed up you can do some running specific stretches, although there is no evidence to suggest that stretching before you run prevents injury.
You are now ready for the main part of your training session. If you are very unfit, do not try to run before you can walk! The best beginners’ programmes consist of periods of walking combined with periods of slow jogging. For example you could walk for 2 minutes then run for 1 minute, repeating the cycle for 10 or 15 minutes to start with. Once you have completed this part of your training; finish with a 10 minute cool down walk. Now is the time when stretching is a must, as it will help to prevent injury.
It is surprising how quickly you can build up to running for half an hour without stopping. The feeling of achievement is enormous and the benefits to your fitness will make it all worthwhile.