4 Ways to Start Running for a Healthy Lifestyle
On the run from getting your run in? Or have you never even thought of lacing up until now?
Now that the world can enjoy a little more freedom from the COVID-19 pandemic than before, New Years resolutions are making a big return in 2022. If quarantine has taught us anything, it’s that too much sitting around is likely to lead to negative side-effects such as depression, weight gain, and lethargy. A lot of people are getting in the mood to break free from their homes and embrace physical activity to improve their overall health!
Aerobic exercise is fantastic for physical health and weight loss, but perhaps no workout comes as close to providing health benefits to the entire body—along with its immune system—as much as running. Even working up to a jog can burn significantly more calories than walking or strength training, making it a great activity to perform alongside balancing out a healthy diet.
While many people see running as a chore (or even a nightmare), there are a few ways you can create the mindset needed to put your feet to the pavement on a consistent basis. Don't let your fitness level stop you from heading out if you're a beginner: here are some tips you can use to start running, whether you’re a new runner or a seasoned sprinter getting back in shape!
Nothing can kill your running motivation as fast as getting outside without taking the proper precautions—your feet might ache, your pace might be too fast, and you might get hungry mid-run. If you aren’t careful, you could even get dehydrated or feel faint.
Instead of forcing yourself to start moving as soon as possible, plan ahead by lacing your running shoes correctly, using the bathroom, eating something light (fruit, granola, and nuts can be great options to eat just before a run), glancing at the weather, mapping out your route, and intaking plenty of fluids for good hydration. Take time for dynamic stretches (as opposed to stationary, static stretches) and review any training plans you have. Starting your run with a walking warm-up isn't a bad idea, either.
Running is a test of endurance, meaning even the littlest annoyances can become big problems the longer you’re on the move. Take stock and make a checklist of things to do before you head out. You’ll thank yourself once the sweat is going!
Don’t Let Things Get Boring
Running workouts can last as long as you want, but one thing is certain: as you grow tired, your mind will constantly look for excuses to quit. If the going gets too monotonous, the excuses scream louder in your head, making you more likely to stop early.
To that end, do whatever you can to keep things interesting! Try listening to music with a specially-designed running playlist that sustains your motivation. Pick different routes, or try running your usual route backward. Challenge yourself with time and distance goals. Run with friends. The possibilities are endless, and the more avenues of stimulation you provide your brain with as you go, the less you’ll focus on the actual difficulty of the run. Remember to shake things up every so often and keep the experience enjoyable!
Running apps can also be a great way to break up the boredom while you're out. Most are able to provide running tips, a running schedule, and coordinate with your own running plan. You can even find running groups on the internet to help!
Pay Attention to Your Running Form
Despite everyone being more or less inclined to run with different gaits, an unhealthy running posture can lead to less effective workouts in good cases and dangerous, long-term injuries in bad cases. Blisters and hamstring problems can also arise!
As you run, keep track of how your feet touch the ground. Rather than landing on the heel (like many runners do), the best footfall is located around the midfoot, between the heel and the forefoot. If you land exclusively on your heel, the shock of your foot's impact is absorbed along the entire leg, which can lead to knee problems later on. The midfoot (or arch) will utilize the entire length of your foot to cushion the impacts, protecting you from potential damage. A good pair of shoes is also important for injury prevention!
Don’t neglect the rest of your body either: keep your chin up straight and your head in line with your back. Move your hips back and forth in synchronization with your arms. Pick up your feet behind you to get the most out of your workout (and avoid the “stumbling run” some beginner runners inadvertently demonstrate).
Push Yourself, But Not Too Hard
Running is difficult! So imagine finishing a lengthy run without truly challenging your body and working up to a faster heart rate. Although moving around is still good for you, running too slowly or for too short of a duration won’t give your body the healthy edge it deserves.
A good rule of thumb is to run at a pace you can comfortably keep up for at least 15 minutes. Once you determine that speed, try to maintain it longer than 15 minutes when you're ready: shoot for 20 or even 30 minutes, aiming for longer distances over time. If you don’t have the time to perform longer runs, increase the intensity of your 15 minute run by upping the pace a little. Whether you track your running by distance or time, you should always focus on getting better and better instead of staying the course. This is the method runners typically use to train up for marathons, half-marathons, 10ks and 5ks.
Just be careful not to overdo your run. Pushing your body too hard is certainly worse than skipping on a meaningful workout, and puts you at risk of injury. Consider taking walk breaks and monitoring blood pressure if necessary to preserve your health. After you finish your run, be sure to cool down by slowing to a walk to alleviate soreness. Gauge your own running routine and work to improve it slowly but steadily over a period of time. Always check with your doctor before you get started!
And remember: the running itself doesn’t get easier. You just get better!
Find a Quality Hand Sanitizer to Complement Your Workout!
Getting your cardio done can do wonders for developing a strong immune system, but that doesn’t mean it makes your body’s defenses perfect. In fact, many diseases and viruses out there can still sneak past a healthy immune system and wreak havoc. The most common way they get in your body? Through your eyes and mouth, via the hands.
When you venture out into public, don’t underestimate the value of carrying some hand sanitizer with you. The convenience of a sanitizing solution in your pocket makes it easier and more accessible to use on the go. Muse Health’s Fragrance-free hand sanitizer kills 99% of germs without drying out your skin (thanks to the inclusion of natural, soothing oils).
Visit Muse Health’s shop to learn more, and keep working toward that finish line!