Starting to run is one of the best things an individual can to begin living a healthier life.
As everyone knows, running is extremely good for you. How many times have you heard someone say “Let’s go for a jog!” then proceed to lay down and eat a bag of chips? That’s because getting the motivation to run is hard.
Unfortunately for some, beginning running is hard. People don’t get started because they don’t prepare properly. Preparation is a combination of knowledge and mental readiness. Finding the motivation and using it to fuel your preparation is a process and we’ll discuss that process in this article.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting started running.
Tips for Beginning Running
People often refer to running as a sort of “catch-all” way to solve a number of problems in life. Running is said to focus you, improve your general health, make you happier, and decrease some symptoms of mental illness. It’s often the first step in making a more significant change in life.
People refer to running this way because those benefits really exist. The trouble is, they exist when you put a lot of time and effort into running. It’s no cakewalk, but the benefits are undeniable.
Let’s start with the health benefits.
Understanding the Health Benefits
Mental and physical health have a complicated interplay. Physical health can lead to improved mental health, and improved mental health often leads to a greater focus on improving physical health.
That being said, it’s possible to identify distinct mental and physical health benefits for runners.
Physical Health Benefits
First and foremost, running improves your cardiovascular activity and decreases your chances of dying from a cardiovascular disease. Running even a little bit can help to curb your chances of experiencing any cardiovascular illness.
In order to receive these cardiovascular benefits, you’ll want to shoot for around 3 hours of jogging a week. Any amount of running is better than nothing, but the more the activity you have, the better off you will be.
There are also muscular benefits of regular jogging. Depending on the terrain that you’re running on, different muscles in your body will improve in strength and durability. Running off-road is less forgiving on the muscles than a treadmill is.
Finally, you’ll lose weight. Regular cardiovascular activity is an excellent, healthy way to lose body fat and increase muscle tone. If you’re looking for a more muscular body, though, you’ll want to supplement your runs with alternative exercises.
Mental Health Benefits
The benefits of running extend to the mind as well. We’re not talking about improved body image or self-esteem, which are benefits of running, we’re talking about chemical changes in your brain that make you feel better.
Cardio releases endorphins, which make you more relaxed. Endorphins help to combat elements of anxiety and depression and make you generally calmer in your day to day experience. The experience of depression has also been clinically shown to reduce after continued running.
How to Begin Running
Now that you’ve been briefed on the health benefits, you should be picking up some motivation and starting to think about when or how you’re going to get out there.
Set Realistic Goals
People often imagine that they will magically start running every day for the rest of their lives, eventually tackling marathons and races. This is an unrealistic goal to set for yourself, and a common reason that people don’t continue exercise in general.
Setting unrealistic expectations is a great way to lose confidence and give up on running. It’s important to realize that running is great, but you don’t need to run an excessive amount right off the bat, or ever, for that matter.
Like we mentioned above, you only need around 3 hours a week to receive cardiovascular benefits. Additionally, the mental health benefits of running are experienced after your first time.
If you break those 3 hours down to 5 days a week, that’s thirty minutes a day. Start small by going on fifteen to thirty-minute walks every morning before work.
As things start to pick up and you get more comfortable in your routine, you can pick up the pace a little bit. Keep progressing and finding your groove, and soon enough, you’ll be running more than you had planned to in the first place!
If you’ve been out of the game for a while and running is your first form of exercise, make sure you stretch well and start slow.
Running will activate much of your body, so you’ll want to stretch your arms, neck, calves, ankles, and hamstrings. The last thing you want is to take your first few steps and pull a muscle in your back.
Treadmills or Roads?
Next, you’ll want to decide on your route. Do you want to pop in some headphones and go to the gym? Or would you prefer to stroll around your neighborhood and take in the morning bird sounds?
Your routine is going to be an integral aspect of your persistence. If you don’t like the environment that you’re running in you’re unlikely to continue doing it. Try a few things when you’re identifying your workout environment.
Try jogging around your neighborhood and areas nearby your home. There are often bike-trails that are accommodating to joggers. Many times the peacefulness of nature distracts you from the fact that you’re running and allows you to move a little farther.
Gyms and treadmills are another thing to consider when you’re starting up. Mostly because when you find yourself 3 miles into a run, you don’t need to turn back. Right when you’re beginning it’s nice to have the option of stopping and laying down whenever you want.
Find Like Minded Runners
If you’re in need of a little external motivation, get in touch with runner communities. Often times a friend or neighbor would be more than happy to join you on your morning runs, but reaching out to others online can be a great way to make friends and get fit.