What are the rewards of a great run?
You may very well deserve that healthy banana or apple at the end of an intense run, but the real reward of running is the rush of endorphins (a chemical produced by the brain that makes us feel good), and a real sense of pride that you have done it!
If you are fairly new to the running game, or just not the type for clocking big distances, then the idea of a half marathon may seem like a daunting task! It certainly is a huge achievement, but a half marathon is a distance that’s very doable for all runners. All you need to know is how to adopt running as a strategy, and how to enjoy it.
Here is your step-by-step guide to becoming a runner, and achieve that marathon distance:
1. Walk first…
It’s often said that you have to walk before you run. Truly, walking is a great way to get started with running because it not only allows you to gradually improve your ability to run, but also provides an enormous confidence boost! As it grows on you, you will seek out new challenges which can be in the form of continuous running at varying speeds.
If you are currently sedentary, start with 15-20 minutes of walk 3-5 days a week for 2-3 weeks. Walking strengthens the muscle groups and tendons in your legs, knees, and ankles – the support system that helps you run. More time on your feet builds muscle strength and cardiovascular capacity.
2. …then run
Add running segments slowly to your walk. Alternately walk and run. The combination helps strengthen your heart, lowers your blood pressure, and increases your lung capacity. Top off your run with a good stretching routine.
3. Add time
Increase the length of your run segment each week. After three weeks, you should be running more than walking. Run by time instead of distance, as this encourages you to maintain a steady pace from start to end, and eventually, you learn to plan your runs better.
4. Eat well
It is rightly said that “will power is sustained by your energy supply.” Nutritious food strengthens muscles as well as your determination, so, eat wisely. Carbohydrates give you a quick boost of energy after a workout while protein works over a longer period of time, and helps in muscle growth as well as recovery.
5. No excuses
Don’t make a little mishap a reason to stop running. If you falter, recommit by revisiting your original motivation; remember what made you lace up in the first place.
6. Understand the pain
Running can be hard, but don’t think of it as a ‘pain.’ Pain is getting hit by something. Treat it more like burn, the burn that tells you you’re improving. Remember that you will experience some discomfort as your body develops with this change. But what’s hard today will be a lot easier tomorrow.
Work on these areas of your body
- Glutes: The weakest muscles in a beginner’s body are the stride driving Gluteus duo of the maximus and medias. Strengthen these muscles with exercises like lunges, walking lunges, squats etc.
- Hamstrings: Hamstrings help flex the knee, absorb impact, and lift your feet. Prolonged sitting makes them short, tight, and vulnerable to pulls. Loosen them with stretches.
- Lower Leg: Shin splints are caused by the overuse of the tibialis and soleus muscles in the lower leg. Avoid that by building your run time slowly and running on a soft surface.
- Quads: The quadriceps are the strongest muscle group in your body because they control the heaviest bone – the femur. Stretch to relax them after a run.
- Knees: Connective tissue such as your ligaments and tendons, take longer than the muscles to adapt to the rigors of running. Increase your weekly run time by just 10 per cent every week to give your knees a chance to catch up with your muscles.
Soft landing will save your feet.
7. Have fun
Enjoy your runs. New runners often quit because it isn’t fun to start with. But once you have a fixed running schedule, it starts motivating you forward. Change routes, challenge yourself, find running buddies, and set small goals and achieve them. Incentives like these will push you to keep going much farther than that apple or banana can!
Just run what you can run!
Never mind the marathon for now! Focus on getting out of the front door, and there will be a day when you complete an actual marathon.
So what are you waiting for? Get up, lace up, and hit the road! And remember to start today, because “tomorrow” never comes.
Author Credits – Alka Rao Yadav