You may have what it takes to run like a pro - but how to go the distance?
A lot of people run, but not everyone is a runner. For those of you embarking for the first time in Martial Arts training, looking towards competing or if you've never really done it, you might be apprehensive, or even put off, by the sight of all those super-fit bodies tearing through the streets, parks or on the gym treadmills and wonder how you could ever move like that. Why do you even want to?
Maybe because you know that running is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and has a wide range of benefits. It's such a simple and basic sport, and you can do it just about anywhere, at any time — all you need is a pair of shoes and shorts and t-shirt and you're good to go. You won't even need shoes if you get into the barefoot running trend, which is especially popular on beaches all over the world. Plus, you don't need to rely on a team or anyone at all — just get out there and do it on your own.
A road, park or treadmill are not even required because if you find yourself in a small or confined space — a hotel room or aeroplane bathroom — you can keep up your fitness level and run on the spot. But how to get started with running if you're not a runner? How do you get going and eventually manage to keep up with those runners out there, and even pass them out and run like the wind? First, let's take a look at running and why you should consider it as the ultimate health and fitness activity.
The Life-Boosting Benefits of Running
Running is so good for us because we evolved to have active lives, in which a great deal of our time is spent running around after things — like our ancient ancestors in Africa who had to hunt animals to survive. No one, after all, needs reminding about the extraordinary health risks of largely sedentary lives, which, unfortunately, is the situation many people today find themselves in.
Sitting for long periods — driving or commuting; throughout the day, at work; and in front of the TV all evening and night — is just not good for us, and combined with a bad diet of overeating and drinking sugary drinks, it’s a recipe for health disaster.
Getting up and running — combined with a healthy, wholefood diet that's mostly not processed and includes lots of vegetables and fruit — can certainly slash all those risks and put you on the path to robust health and fitness. For starters, it will improve your circulation and cardiovascular fitness, as well as burn energy and help you to lose weight to reach your optimal size and maintain it.
As running also uses a range of muscles — all through the legs, up into the core and the chest and arms — you'll benefit from strengthened muscles when you embark on a running programme. Studies suggest running also conveys longevity and mental-alert benefits, but you need to bear in mind that jogging is not running because the former is slow-paced, while running is much more intense and makes more demands on the heart, lungs and other organs of the body.
How to Start Running
If you're not all that fit and want to start running, it's advisable to get a checkup from your doctor before proceeding, who will be able to identify any problems before they arise. Then, if you get the all-clear, it's time to start pounding the pavement, and the key is to start slow, not think you're in a race and try to beat everyone.
Too many people embark on fitness programmes and go all-out in the first few days, only to end up winded, possibly with injuries, and not liking the experience all that much. It's no wonder so many people give up and retreat to the sofa. Don’t let that happen to you!
So, for example, on your first day, only run a short distance — say, half a mile — and extend the distance a little on each running day that follows. This allows your leg muscles to get used to running and strengthen. If you’re running outdoors, choose routes that are visually interesting and inspiring, such as through stunning forests and charming villages, and listen to music along the way to keep you motivated and keep your pace up. You can always run with friends too, as well as join a running club and eventually enter races.
It's also important to do some strength training as part of your running programme, whether it's core exercises such as planks, strengthening your glutes — which power your runs — with squats or doing some martial arts training to get strong all over.
Soon enough, you'll be surprising yourself at the distances you're able to cover without running out of breath.
If you're interested in martial arts training, you'll find a wealth of online courses right here at Warrior Collective. And if you’re like to know more, simply fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch.