Running is one of those things that we either love or hate. The people who love running are probably seen as slightly insane to those who don’t, but there are legitimate reasons as to why some might be more into it than others. First, there’s getting over the mental block of actually going on your first run. There’s a social stigma that says running is difficult and awful, so some people fear it.
Most long-time runners will say that you “have to get into running shape;” it takes time to build yourself up to the point of making running comfortable for you. Of course, if you’ve never ran before, you won’t be super comfortable and your body won’t be familiar with the exercise. But if you consistently keep at it, even just a couple times a week, you’ll get more used to it. You could even start by switching off between walking and running. These could be considered intervals and are good for building up your stamina.
One of the first things you have to know about running is that form is the most important factor. If you don’t have good form, you’re more likely to get injured. Your form makes or breaks how efficient your body is. Some people naturally strike with their heels on the ground, while others strike with their toes. There is no correct way in this case, but you’re less likely to get an injury if you just stick to your natural stride.
The next checkpoint to hit would be creating a training plan for yourself. One online source says that if you run or do the run/walk method three days a week, cross train for the other days and take a rest day or two, you’ll eventually get into good running shape. You can simply run at a conversational pace, which is a pace that’s comfortable for you, and it will begin to make a difference. Doing intervals will help you increase your speed and overall feel more comfortable with running, but just starting off with run/walking will help you get to interval level.
One other important step to becoming a runner is signing up for your first race. Once you’ve trained for a little while, doing a race will be a true test of how your work has paid off. This also gets you into the running community, because you’ll see and meet other runners there who will be at the same level as you. The running community is a great place for newer runners because everyone relates to the same struggles and goes at similar paces.
Your diet truly affects your running so much, so it’s important to make sure you’re fueling your body with the correct food groups. Bananas are one of the absolute best running foods because they’re high carb energy boosters, which are good for before your run. They also contain potassium, which helps replace the minerals you lose while on a run. Peanut butter is another great pre-run food, because it’s high in vitamin E and is a good fat for energy boosting. Peanut butter on a piece of whole grain toast with a banana is probably the most stereotypical, but nutritious snack to have when fueling up before a run. Pasta is another good meal to have the night before a race or just in general to carb up and get energy before running. Carbs are essential before a run, while protein is best after. Getting to know the foods that your body likes before running and the foods it can’t handle as well will improve your running experience.
Lastly, if you’re trying to lose weight, running is one of the most effective methods. There’s a concept called the after-burn, which essentially refers to how your body is still burning calories even after you run because of the high intensity. Your resting pulse stays elevated after you finish running, so you’re still at a higher intensity even after finishing the workout. Running is also time efficient because you don’t have to go to the gym to do it. If the weather permits, all you need is a pair of sneakers and an outfit, and you’re all set. This makes running one of the most convenient forms of exercise as well. A lot of people complain about having to drive to the gym, which takes up a lot of their time and slows down their weight loss process. Running is simple and time efficient, so it helps you lose the weight faster.
Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.