More of us than ever took up running in the lockdown. With restrictions easing, it’s important to keep those legs churning
Lockdown saw more and more people hitting the streets and parks and taking up running. But is it really good for you? Simply put, running will give you a total body workout and improves loads of aspects of your health. Here’s how…
Lose weight – Running requires a lot of fuel. In fact, the average person can burn as much as nearly 500 calories on a 40-minute run – even more if you throw in a few slopes or some interval training.
Boost legs and core – It’s no big surprise that running is a fantastic workout for all aspects of your legs, with your inner and outer thighs, quads and hamstrings are all being used. However, it’s great for your core strength too as those deep muscles play important roles stabilising your spine and transferring power between your swinging arms and legs.
Build muscle strength – This increases with running, reducing joint problems, lowering blood pressure and improving all-round fitness. Regular running helps to improve and maintain the density or strength of your bones, reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Cut the risk of diabetes – Your pancreas makes insulin, which is responsible for normalising your blood sugar levels. Regular exercise and keeping to a healthy weight lowers your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 50 per cent.
Cut the risk of cancer – You can halve your risk of bowel cancer by running regularly! Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms are also relieved by easing constipation and bloating. Stress levels are closely linked to IBS too, so running helps.
Get an endorphin hit – Feelgood brain chemicals and hormones are released when you run, helping to ease stress and anxiety and treat depression. In addition, your risk of dementia and stroke falls as brain circulation is kept healthy. Concentration, memory and motivation sharpen and sleep improves, too.
Help the heart - You can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 35 per cent with regular exercise. Reductions in weight, blood pressure and ‘bad’ cholesterol levels lead to a healthier heart.
Breathe easier – Running improves your lung capacity and strengthens your respiratory muscles – these are the muscles between your ribs and in your diaphragm. Your lungs also become more efficient which is great news for those with asthma.
Feel the freedom – Runnning costs nothing. You can do it anywhere, around any routine and unlike a lot of other exercises there’s not much of a learning curve. Plus, it’s very easy to go at your own pace.
OK, so you’re sold – you’re going to give it a go. But how do you make sure you keep it up and it becomes part of your regular routine? Running can get pretty boring, so here’s a few tips to help you on your new jogging journey.
EASY DOES IT: When you first start running don’t try to do too much too soon. An average beginner’s pace is around 13 minutes per mile, but if you find that too hard or not challenging enough, simply adjust your pace and you’ll soon get a feel for what your body can do.
GET COMFORTABLE KIT: You don’t need to spend a fortune but clothing has to feel comfortable. Socks, vests, shorts and a decent pair of trainers will all help – the more everything sits comfortably the less they become an excuse to stop. Try before you buy and borrow from others to test.
SET YOURSELF CHALLENGES: The more you can overcome challenges the better you will feel and the more likely you’ll continue. Start with small challenges and then gradually build up to other things you can do to ‘toughen’ you up – like run when its raining, run all the hills or run into a headwind.
BREATHING: It’s so important to remember to breathe properly. Expanding your chest causes tension in the shoulders. The more you can relax, the more you can move the breathing to the diaphragm. Trying to breathe every four, six, or even eight steps can help to both distract and relax.
POSTURE: Are you engaging the stomach and glutes? Imagine starring in your own run film and run the way you think you would want to see yourself running.
FORM: Look at the shadows to see what your arms and legs are doing. Try to feel where the wind is catching you and become more aerodynamic. How much can you relax shoulders and arms?
DISTRACTIONS: Studies have shown that running to music can be hugely helpful but you can also try listening to an audiobook or podcast. There is often an urge to add a bit more distance to get to the next chapter but you also get to associate landmarks, run routes and distances with moments in the book.
MIX IT UP: There are lots of things that you can change in your training to make it more enjoyable – try a different route, run along one of our awesome canals, try getting on a track or you can vary the type of training session you’re doing (like intervals, run/walk or progressive pace)
RUN WITH OTHERS: Time flies by when you are engaged in conversation so why not try running with your wife, husband, partner or kids?
REST: Take rest days between your running days and take plenty minutes to warm up before each session. Stretching before and after exercise is beneficial and something that many of us forget to do enough.