The sport of running has been around since the evolution of bipedalism in humans 4 million years ago. Back then, the ability to run meant the difference between being the predator or the prey. Times have definitely changed with the adaptation of running shoes and fancy trackers, but the fundamentals of running haven’t. All it takes to get started is your two legs and a little bit of motivation.
As lifestyles continue to evolve, the idea of running has also shifted. From my years in PE and athletics, many coaches used running as a punishment for showing up late or messing up drills. Populations are getting heavier and the perception is running is bad for your ankles and knees. Finally, people love making fun of those short shorts as you run by. Fortunately, that’s all noise. Instead I choose to challenge myself to change the perception of running and leave behind a trail of life long runners wherever I go! So guess what…Running is COOL!
The benefits of running are undeniable, from helping reduce weight to improving mental performance, there are a plethora of scientifically backed benefits associated with cardiovascular exercise. ( Check out this book called Spark by John Ratey to dive deeper into the AMAZING mental benefits or exercise). Not only can it help with mood, stress, and anxiety, it can actually help promote your ability to learn and retain information!
Running is also my favorite way to tour a new vacation spot. There’s something about waking up before sunrise and going for a 6–7 mile run around the busiest parts of the city that no guided tour can bring. Tourist traps are still empty, shop owners are just getting set up, cool morning air hits the nostrils and it’s exhilarating getting experiencing unfamiliar territory through a very routine activity. I encourage anyone to do the same and if you’re traveling with me, better make sure you pack your shoes and shorts! ;)
Finally, there is almost no barrier to starting a running/jogging program. All you need is a pair of running shoes and somewhere to run. Whether it’s doing your first 10 minutes or training for a 5k, there are goals for anyone. For those individuals who say running isn’t for you, separate the idea behind racing and running. Anywhere is walking/jogging distance if you have enough time.
Here are a few tips to get you started and keep you going!
- Stay consistent!
Just like any activity, it gets easier with practice. If necessary, start with walking and work your way up to short intervals of jogging. At the end of the day, make sure to stay consistent and things will continue to get more enjoyable as you start seeing the pounds drop and increasing your duration and speed!
2. Listen to your body (recovery/mobility)
It’s not always about pushing your body to it’s limits. Recovery and flexibility are essential for runners who want to continue exercising without injury. For every hour of running you put in, make sure to spend 1/4th of that time with your foam rolling and recovery. Your body will thank you after your first few weeks of training! Also, make sure to incorporate rest weeks into your training.
Everyone has a different body and stride. There’s no single shoe that will fit for all runners. Go into a running shop and ask a professional to check out your stride and recommend the right shoe for you. Once you find something that works, stick with it!
4. Strength/ Cross-train
This is essential if you want to prevent injury and increase speed! In my years of coaching high school cross country, olympic weightlifting has been amazing for preventing injury while improving finishing kicks (Check out how Galen Rupp and Mo Farah incorporated it into their training!). Start with assisted squats and lunges and work your way up from there.
5. Get Social
Join a local running group or find some runners around the same level as you. Being able to share your accomplishments and keep you accountable make any activity so much more worthwhile. Some of my closest friends to this day are runners and no matter how much time passes by, I know they are always ready to catch up over a run!
Whether starting a couch to 5k program or looking to complete your 10th marathon, running will always be what you want it to be. From casual jogging to speedwork, and everything in between, you will always be able to test yourself with new goals year after year. My challenge to you is to go out and walk/jog/run for 5 days in a row before calling it quits….
Keep running fast, lifting heavy, and fueling clean friends!
Also, stay tuned next week for a guest post by USAW Coach Ben Hwa. He’ll be sharing his experience coaching one of the strongest 15 year old’s you’ve never heard of at the Youth World Championships!