Most people start running informally as an enjoyable way to keep fit rather than as a ‘serious’ sport. However, the allure of the sport is very strong for many, and you just might find yourself running competitively before too long! Running is one of the best activities most people can do to improve their health. Running regularly can help with weight loss, fighting aging and disease, and with generally staying healthy.
Why take up running? Because it is the simplest, fastest and the most accessible way to fitness and good health. You don’t need a partner; you don’t need equipment, a court, or a gym; you can exercise the dog at the same time and you don’t need much time either. A mere 20 minutes run, three or four times a week is enough to make you fit. Running outdoors in the fresh air reinvigorates the mind as well as the body. You will find that not only your physical energy levels will be enhanced but that you will enjoy a feeling of well being that is reflected in having a more positive mood.
Despite its many health benefits there is some concern over the incidence of injury, especially heel pain, shin pain and knee pain in runners and joggers. Injury prevention is a very serious issue for those who run regularly. Exercise jogger or race contestant, regardless of your aspirations, when you first get started in the running sport there are some basic tips you must follow to avoid injury and discouragement:
- Shoes: Running shoes should fit properly. They should not be overly worn and should also ideally be designed to accommodate the person’s style of running. Invest in a pair of running shoes before hitting the road. Additionally, running shoes should be replaced regularly to prevent injuries which may result from the running shoe being overly worn out.
- Stretching: Runners can avoid injuries by stretching regularly. But do not stretch before starting your run. Simply because cold muscles and ligaments do not stretch, they snap. Hence start your run slowly and do some gentle stretching after your body has warmed up. Improper stretching is a leading cause of injuries in runners.
- Do not ignore Pain: Simple tip, but golden rule for every runner. Do not ignore the signs of pain. Pain is a way your body is telling you that something is wrong. Ignoring an injured area may cause serious and long-term damage. Hence consult a doctor immediately if you are facing any such situation.
- Gradually increase Intensity: Listen to your body as you run. Slowly increase your speed until you just start to feel a bit uncomfortable (muscles, breathing, etc.) and immediately back off just enough to where you feel comfortable again. Just maintain this pace. Never increase more than 10% of the intensity per week.
The advantage of these pain-free techniques is that although you are experiencing no discomfort, your speed will continually keep increasing throughout the progress of your run. Even long-time joggers can see an immediate improvement in their times when they apply these principles. By adding the physical strength and emotional well-being that running gives, you can look forward to a vibrant and happy, long life.