Is running for me? Your no nonsense guide to exercise

Next form of exercise to de-mystify and talk about is running. It is very cheap (i.e. free) but perhaps not always as enjoyable as it looks (!). The very word running will either fill you with dread or pure joy!

I personally have had a funny relationship with running. Not until my husband dragged me round an American football pitch in Santa Barbara 4 years ago, had I ever ran for more than 15 minutes (and that was at a stretch). I did not enjoy it and I was rubbish at it. I say this so that you know that I was not, am not and will never be ‘forest gump’. After my ‘Santa Barbara running experience’, I continued to incorporate running into my weekly exercise routine. Over the past four years I have got better at it, but the marathon is definitely not on the agenda. Through these years I sustained quite a bad injury and my body has started to show signs of my earlier gymnastic hobby. My relationship with running has therefore been reviewed and postponed at times. However, I still go for a weekly 6-7km run which agrees with my body and fits nicely into my life. Enough of me now, let’s get to the nitty gritty.

Summary – It sounds daft but some people assume that running automatically means a marathon. Running still comes in different shapes and forms. You can of course go for distance runs i.e. miles/kilometres, you can do sprint drills, run for a certain amount of time, run on the beach/road/cross country/track/treadmill or even on the spot!

Hills, steps and gradual slopes can add to the intensity and challenge. What you choose to listen to can also enhance the running experience. Other than music, some people listen to motivational speeches or books, or even run in silence and enjoy the scenery around them creating an almost meditative/reflection time.

Joining a running club or going running with friends or even taking your dog for a run works wonders for your motivation and keeps it fresh.

Good for? Losing weight, strengthening your heart and lungs (cardiovascular system), burning calories and toning legs.

Be careful if… you have any back, hip, knee or ankle injuries/pains or concerns. Running is a high impact form of exercise which means you pound the joints of the lower body like nobody’s business. If you suspect you have a lower body issue, or you know you have, running should not be part of your schedule until the injury has completely healed and you have addressed any underlying reasons as to why this happened. in the first place

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The other thing you should be very aware of is how you run. Running like Pheobe from Friends will cause injuries and be painful! Ask a friend to video you run so you can see for your self. Be aware of your posture and run with everything facing forward in alignment. For example, toes follow the direction of your knees. Relax your shoulders and engage your core muscles whilst you run. You will run better and feel better for it.

Good tip – you would not go skiing in pumps or ski’s which are crooked, so do not wear your 5 year old Dunlops (which are covered in mud and holes) to go running in. If you do expect to get injured. The correct footwear is absolutely essential and if you have not gone to a proper running shop and got the right trainers for your feet, do not go running. I cannot express how serious this is and it will also effect your running experience. Everyone’s feet are individual so properly fitted trainers are a must. Go somewhere like Runners Need or an Asics shop where they will assess your running style and fit your trainers to prevent injury and correct existing weaknesses. Once you have them you will feel like you are walking on air!

Now you know how to run and you have the right trainers, get out there in the Spring and have a go! If you still do not enjoy it, do not worry, there are plenty more ‘fish’ in the sea. Try something else and do not get hung up about it! Next week we will be talking about Zumba and that may just be the match you have been waiting for!

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