A Beginner's Guide to Running
I’ve heard a lot of people utter the words “I can’t run” recently, so I think it’s time to dispel this myth. You can run. You just haven’t gone about it the right way.
Obviously, if you have a medical condition which stops you from running, I won’t argue with the professionals, but if you have two legs and can walk, the chances are you can walk faster. And faster. And then run. With the summer upon us (budge over, jet stream) and the Olympics getting ever closer, now is the time to pull on a pair of trainers and get running.
Medical journal The Lancet recently published an article on the epidemic of inactivity, showing that a lack of exercise was killing as many people as smoking or obesity. Running is one of the cheapest forms of exercise, perfect if your bank account is too stretched by the end of the year to afford a gym membership. No one is going to charge you for running on roads or through fields, and you don’t need expensive equipment, just a pair of trainers and some comfortable clothes.
When people say “I can’t run”, it probably isn’t for lack of trying, but because they haven’t tried in the right way. If your body isn’t used to running, you won’t be able to go out and run solidly for an hour along a hilly trail in the burning midday sun (or torrential rain, for that matter). People try this and get disheartened at how hard it is. Start slowly, gradually building up your strength, and the result will be completely different.
Try running for a minute, and then walking for a minute. Repeat this five times and see how you feel. If you think you can manage more, do it again. Once that’s easy, change to two minutes of running, one of walking, gradually increasing the running minutes and reducing the walking to thirty seconds. You’ll be surprised how quickly your body adapts, and before you know it a twenty minute run with no stops will be achievable, if not exactly comfortable.
Do It Your Way
One of the things I love about running is that it is completely on your terms, so you can run in whatever way suits you best. Some people will find that they get stuck at running for three minutes intervals with a minute’s walk in between for a few weeks. Other people might pass straight on to a five minute run on their second try. Your body, your rules. If you feel you definitely need to stop (always attempt to keep going to start with, you might run through the tiredness), stop. Run at your own pace. No one will judge you for topping every few minutes, or at least they shouldn’t. You’re being healthy and getting fit, and there’s nothing wrong with that, however you do it.
Good Tired, Bad Tired
Running will always be tiring (otherwise you’re doing it wrong); inevitable running pains like stitches are part of the experience, and the day after a run your muscles might feel slightly battered. But sometimes you just need to take a day off. If your muscles are heavy and aching, or you’re tired to the point of dragging your feet, don’t worry about going anywhere near those trainers. Instead, have a rest day, take some time to stretch, and recover in time for your next run. The same goes for shooting pains, or anything that you genuinely think might be an injury. Stop running, go home, and rest.