Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beginning to Run

In December, I wrote a post about the importance of exercising to stay healthy. You can view it here. In it, I basically wrote about how as little as 30 minutes of easy exercises a day can help keep you healthy, and how you can do it from the comfort of your own home. But what happens when you want to amp up the difficulty a bit? I didn't think I'd ever want to, as I was quite happy with simply walking, but soon the itch to run began to overtake me. How did I transition into becoming a runner when I've always hated running? I can give you some tips that helped me.

First off, I walked for months before I even began running. When I had five brisk miles down without breathing too hard, I knew I was ready. I began slow. Instead of tackling my same five miles as an entire run, I broke it down into segments. I'd walk to a predetermined point, run slowly to another predetermined point, walk to another, and so on until I finished the route. As my running muscles built up, I lengthened the distance between running points until I could run the entire distance. Another thing you can do is use time to break up your run. Start by walking for a minute and running for 30 seconds. Repeat throughout your route. And, of course, it's perfectly fine to lengthen the time you walk between running sets. As you continue getting out to run, you'll also begin lengthening your running time until you can do the entire route without walking. Don't like predetermined distances or time constraints? Simply run until you're tired, and then walk until you feel like running again. Maybe the first few times you go out, you'll spend much more time walking than running, but if you really want to be a runner, that will change. Keep at it!

Next, you'll want to get a good pair of shoes. Experts say you should plan on spending around $100 for a good pair, but I've found it depends on your feet. Try different shoes at different price ranges. Personally, I wouldn't buy bargain shoes for under twenty bucks that you may find at a Wal-Mart or the like, but experiment. I would suggest you buy shoes that are specifically marked as running shoes, especially if you plan to mostly run on sidewalks or streets. Try 'em on, and if they feel comfortable and are in your price range, give 'em a try. If you're willing to spend the money and know you're committed to running, you may want to go to a running specialty store and have them match you with your prefect fit. It's all up to you.

The final thing I want to touch on here is safety. Make sure you're comfortable with where you run. Don't run somewhere you aren't comfortable. Yes, it may be convenient, but why risk yourself. It'll be better for you to drive or hop on the bus to get somewhere you're happy with rather than risk life and limb because of convenience. Or you may want to join a gym and use their treadmills if that's safer. Also make sure you're aware of your surroundings when you run. If you choose to run in the street, make sure you're running against traffic so you can see oncoming cars. If you choose to listen to music (which I couldn't do without), make sure you don't have it so loud you can't hear what's around you, be it cars, people on bikes, and anything else. Don't shut yourself off from reality while you run. If you'd like to do that, stick to a treadmill, even if you're in an environment where you think you're all alone. Use common sense when it comes to running, and you'll be fine.

That's it for now. There's not really much to getting started. I'll be back in the future to add intermediate tips and other goodies I've learned, but for now, that's all you need. Of course, there are plenty of other ways to ramp up your heart rate (biking, swimming, rowing, etc. etc. etc.), but since I chose to become a runner, that's what I'm focusing on. Above all, have fun!