Running Tips and Tricks for Health and Efficient Exercise
Running is a great way to keep your body healthy and your mind happy. If you enjoy running, it can become a truly enjoyable way to lose weight, stay healthy, relieve stress and even raise your confidence. Running may seem easy; however, there are many mistakes that you can make when starting a running regiment. It is important that you understand the tips and tricks for building up to a great running workout. By following the proper steps, you can find an exciting way to exercise through running.
History of Running
It is believed that running began with early man. Most scholars believe this was just a means of survival as they needed to catch prey and flee from dangerous situations, but running was never a natural part of our evolution. They believe that humans are poor runners compared to animals and it is less efficient than walking because you burn more calories (which was something early man would not have wanted). However, there are a growing number of scientists who believe that running actually helped to shape the modern day human body. They have looked at 26 traits that are associated with running, including various ligaments in the body that allow proper running, the movement of bones and joints such as the hips, legs and torso, which also allows running and a more efficient running gait. These scientists truly believe that not only were humans born to run, but running is what made us the way we are.
Running for fitness can be traced back to the ancient Olympic Games in 776 BC. This time documents the first competitive running event, involving a cook named Koroibos who won a 600 foot race. Another important moment for ancient running occurred in 490 BC. Pheidippides ran 26 miles to announce the Greek had one in the Battle of Marathon. Pheidippides run is what inspired the marathon in the modern Olympic Games. In the modern era, competitive running events can be traced back to as early as 1873, when the Intercollegiate Association of Armature Athletes of America and the Amateur Athletic Union held their first competitions. These two events mark the first interest in running for fitness and recreation. In the 20th century, running for recreation widened as the first NCAA championships were held for track and field. Since then, it has only grown as more and more people choose to run for fitness and pleasure.
Why Choose Running?
Before you decide to start running, you need to make sure it is something you think you will enjoy. There are many other great forms of exercise that will help you lose weight, improve heart function and lower cholesterol, including jogging, swimming and cycling. Running is a high intense work-out, and it requires a lot of effort and motivation. If you do not enjoy running but choose it for exercise anyway, then there is a high probability that you will end up giving up exercising altogether, which is something you do not want to do. Exercise should be something fun to keep you going, so only choose running if you love to run.
If you discover that you do enjoy running, it can be fun and exhilarating, which is probably why running has remained a main source of exercise since ancient times. When you run, endorphins are released and create a feeling of euphoria, which is known as the runner’s high. This feeling makes you feel happy and will put you in a great mood. Everyone has their own reasons for why they love to run, but there are many general benefits that make running one of the best forms of exercise.
- Heart Health – Running helps to decrease the risk of problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, blood clots and raises good cholesterol.
- Overall Health – Running can even help to decrease the risk of diabetes and cancer.
- Mental Health- Running is great for helping people who suffer from depression, and it even helps guard against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Strengthening – It is obvious that running strengthens muscles, but it also helps to strengthen bones to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone related diseases.
- Reduces Stress – Through running, people can deal with their stress in a healthy way by either giving them time to think about it or simply giving them a way to channel that stress.
- Weight Loss – If weight loss is one reason you want to run then know that running is a great way to lose fat and get a flat tummy.
- Versatility – Running doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done nearly anywhere, so no matter your location, you can find a place to run.
- Confidence – Running is difficult, and there are always new challenges to face. People who run and overcome these obstacles obtain a higher self-esteem, knowing they succeeded.
Regardless of why you want to start running or why you love to run, there are so many great benefits. Not only can it keep your body healthy, it can make it stronger. Plus, it can help if you suffer from constant or seasonal depression by giving you a euphoric feeling and helping to make you feel more confident in yourself.
Before You Run
Before you begin running, you need to walk. No one starting an exercise regimen should simply begin by running. It can be extremely dangerous to run without gaining a higher level of fitness. Without the proper training, running can cause serious injury or even create more health problems. Begin with walking for 30 to 60 minutes each day. Swimming, hiking or cycling are also great ways to improve your fitness level and get you ready to start running. Once you are at a higher level of fitness, you can begin a running regiment.
You do not want to simply head out for a run without preparation. Start with some warm ups to get your body ready for exercise. It is dangerous to start exercise without warming up and can result in injury. Warming up before running can help to increase heart rate and loosen and stretch joints and muscles. Here are some common ways to warm up your body for running:
- Walking – Simply walk vigorously for a few blocks.
- Jogging – Job in place with high knees or move while jogging before increasing to a run
- Low-Impact Cardio Machines – If you run at the gym, use a cycling machine or elliptical for warming up.
- Ankle Rolls – Lift one leg and roll the ankle clockwise and then counter clockwise. Also point your toe down and then up.
- Extended Steps – Work out the knees and thighs by bringing your foot always the way to your butt when walking. Warm up your hips and glutes by bringing your knee all the way up to your chest while walking.
After you’ve properly warmed up, skip stretching for now. Go ahead and immediately begin running. Stretching at this point may still cause injury as your muscles and joints are still not completely warmed up. Run for about ten minutes before stopping. At this time, it is appropriate to begin stretching to keep the muscles flexible and healthy. You can see some great stretching techniques in the cooling down section later in this article. After stretching, continue your run.
The Proper Way to Run
Before running, you will want to make sure you have the appropriate attire for running. Baggy clothes, especially pants or shorts, may cause chaffing or discomfort while running, so tighter shorts and pants are a better option. Make sure that you have enough clothes to stay warm as you run without overheating your body. Shoes are perhaps the most important piece of attire when running. Poor quality running shoes can lead to injury, including knee, ankle and even back injuries. To find a running shoe that is perfect for you, you will want to go to a store that specializes in running or sports. Don’t be shy; ask the sales person to evaluate your foot type and running style. They will be able to suggest a shoe that will meet your needs. The shoe should give the same effects as if you were running barefoot, but keeping your feet protected from the harsh elements. It is important to replace running shoes every 300 miles, as old shoes can lead to serious injuries.
Just about anyone can run, but it is important to run properly. While running, you need to pay attention to your body and make sure it is moving the correct way to ensure proper and efficient running. With improper running, you will end up using more energy, and it will not give you the same positive benefits as proper running.
An overstride is a common mistake many runners make. An overstride means that you land with your foot in front of your knee. This simply causes the run to be more difficult than it should be, because the overstride causes your body to decelerate. It also causes shock to run through your body, which can be painful and cause injury. By making sure you do not overstride, you also ensure you meet another key to proper running: landing on a flat foot. A proper stride will allow you to naturally land on the ball of your foot, not your heel. If you are having trouble with your stride, try running up hill. Running up hill will give you the perfect, short stride.
Making sure your posture is vertical can also improve your quality of running. Some runners tend to lean forward while running, but the healthy and safe way to run is vertical from the hips up. A last sign to look for during running is if you are making a “thump” when you run. This is a sign that you are running poorly because running should be smooth and quiet. Of course, as stated before, you want to make sure you ease into running to avoid injury and improper running style.
Workout Plan for Beginners
Running can be difficult for beginners, so it is important to have a plan that is safe and possible to accomplish. Firstly, you will want to make sure to choose the time of day that you feel your best. This will give you the best results when running. Once you know when you want to run, you just need to start off slowly. Begin the first week with a 10 minute run every day. This will get you eased in to running, and allow you to make sure it is something you enjoy. The next week, bump it up to a 15 minute run, and keep it at 15 minutes for two to three weeks or until you feel comfortable with that level of running. Once you feel ready to increase, push it up to a full 30 minute run. By slowly working up to 30 minutes, you prepare yourself and your body for the workout without causing shock or extreme discomfort.
After running, you want to make sure to properly cool down. It is never a good idea to go from an intense work out to inactivity, so a proper cool down is imperative for runners. There are many different stretches, but these ones are best for runners:
- Quad Stretch – Stand with one hand resting against a wall or pole for balance. Standing on one leg, grasp your other leg behind you and hold.
- Gluteal Stretch – Sit on the floor with one leg straight in front of you. Bend your other knee and place it over your other leg, with your foot touching the floor. Twist your back gently.
- Hip Flexor Stretch – From a standing position, bring one leg forward at a 90 degree angle and then squat down, resting your other knee on the floor.
- Calf Muscle Stretch – Stand against a wall and bring one leg forward, bended at the knee. Leave your other leg behind you, straight. Lean into the bent leg, but make sure your knee does not go over your toe.
- Hamstring Stretch – From a standing position, bend slightly at the hip, and put one foot in front, making sure your leg is straight. Place your hands on your thighs for support.
It is extremely important to make sure to properly cool down after running. Forgetting to cool down can lead to injury and health problems.
Make sure to monitor your progress as you run. Monitoring will allow you to keep tabs on how hard your heart is working as well as how efficient your running regiment is. Without proper monitoring, you might not realize that you need to increase or decrease your level of intensity. It is also important to not run after you eat. After eating, the body is busy with digestion, which requires energy. If you run at the same time you are trying to digest food, then that can cause cramping in your muscles. If you do feel pain while running, stop running. It is dangerous to run through the pain. Pain means that something is wrong, and if you choose to ignore it, it can damage your muscles, bones or joints in serious ways. Lastly, get used to being barefoot, even while you aren’t running. It helps to let you use your foot naturally without shoes hindering movement and functionality.
Running is a fantastic way to exercise, but only for people who enjoy it. Running can help you with depression, high blood pressure, and it can even lower the risk of heart disease and dementia. However, if you do want to start a running regiment, you need to understand that it is something that requires serious preparation. Before running, you need to make increase your level of fitness to avoid injury during running. Knowing the proper techniques for good running is also important to avoid wasted energy and overexertion. Once you have all the secrets to great running, then you can make sure to develop a healthy body and mind through running. Running can truly create well-balanced health inside and out.