Always consult your GP prior to under taking any form of new or unaccustomed exercise.
The decision to start to run can be a difficult one for a lot of people, often due to previous failures or fears that have been built up over a number of years. In reality, most people can run unless they have serious biomechanical or congenital issues. The big question that needs to be answered is should you start to run in the first place?
Without doubt running places a lot of stress on the body, but is this stress a bad thing? After all, every form of exercises stresses the body. When you decide to do any form of exercise you always need to ask yourself, what is the risk involved and what is the reward? If the risk outweighs the reward then the answer is simple.
Stress on the body is often viewed as a bad thing but in reality to keep our bodies strong and healthy, it needs to be stressed on a regular basis. The human body is designed to be physically active, and in fact when we are not active, or physically stressing the body, we develop a range of chronic clinical conditions that seriously affect our health including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weak muscles and bones. So, should we start running? The simple answer is yes, but there are a number of things you should consider before you start.
Beginners often make the decision to start running and after only a few minutes they find themselves out of breath and completely disheartened. But does this mean they can’t run? No! In simple terms what has happened is you have gone from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state. Aerobic exercise means the oxygen you are taking into your body is sufficient to supply the oxygen needed for the activity i.e. running. When you are working aerobically you can exercise for a very long period of time quite comfortably. Anaerobic exercise means you are not taking in enough oxygen to cope with the demand of the activity. In this situation, the exercise feels very difficult and you cannot sustain this for very long.
So, the secret to running as a beginner is; you must stay aerobic in order to be able to keep running for an extended period of time. So how do you do this? Very simply you need to make sure your pace is very slow and as soon as you feel you are going to be forced to stop because you are out of breath, you need to bring your pace back to a walk and continue to walk and allow yourself to recover fully.
To help you visualise this; imagine you start running and after 50m you are beginning to feel out of breath; it’s at this stage you need to start to walk. You might need to walk another for 200m before you have recovered and at this point you start to run again. Keep repeating this process until you have covered roughly 1-2k. The distanced covered will be different for each individual but the principle will be the same. Over a short period of time you will find that you are running further than you are walking with the aim of eliminating the walking completely.
Now having said all that, I am going to raise a number of other issues you need to consider before every taking your initial step.
You will have often heard people saying that they play sport to get fit when in fact you should get fit to play sport and the same would apply to starting running. As I mentioned earlier running can be stressful on your body and it’s a very good idea to improve your fitness before you start to run.
In order to be successful there are three components of fitness that you need to develop, strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness.
The first one is strength. So why would strength be important to a runner. Remember when you run, each foot strikes the ground independently so you always have one foot in the air and one on the ground. This means all your body weight is coming down on one leg and so it needs to be strong enough to absorb this load. Strength training ensures that the body is strong enough to deal with this load and that good biomechanics are maintained throughout each phase. This in turn reduces your risk of injury and increases your running speed. All too often people begin running and in a short period of time they find themselves injured, this is generally due to the lack of core strength and overall body strength.
The next component of fitness we need to consider is flexibility. So what is flexibility? This is your body’s ability to stretch its muscles and mover its joints through a full range of movement without causing injury. If your muscles are tight you run a higher risk of injury, you increase the stress on your joints and you slow yourself due these restrictions. By improving your flexibility you reduce these risks and increase your speed.
The final component of fitness that will make our running easier is aerobic fitness. This is simply your body’s ability to sustain work or exercise for a prolonged period of time without having to rest. The better your aerobic fitness the easier it will be to run and the longer you can stay going. The easiest way to improve your aerobic fitness is to walk, cycle or do exercise classes etc.
So once you have improved your strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness you reduce your risk of injury and increase your chances of success.
Running is a wonderful past time and as long as you seek good advice, you can enjoy years of memorable moments, meet incredible people and improve your mind and body like you never dreamed.
True Fitness are exercise specialists with over 30 years’ experience and we can help you with all aspects of your preparation and execution of your running programme. Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org and arrange your consultation today.