We’re all so busy these days that the thought of finding time for a new activity can be daunting and it can also be expensive. Have you considered running? Running is easy to learn and fairly inexpensive. Plus it benefits both your mental and physical health.

Mental benefits:

  • Running reduces stress by boosting levels of serotonin in your brain and creating a more positive mood
  • Self esteem is improved and goals are achieved through running
  • Running fights depression with the brain’s release of beta endorphins which brings with it a greater sense of well – being
  • You can enjoy a sense of freedom, by forgetting about troubles and feeling the wind in your hair. You can control your own destiny, you alone make the decision to run as fast and as far as you want!
  • Running sharpens focus and improves mental stamina, by giving circulation a boost and increasing the flow of blood to the brain!
  • Social circles can be widened through running by joining a group or a club of fellow enthusiasts
  • Rastly, running helps to improve appearance by getting the blood pumping which creates a healthy glow and by reducing the waistline. The bottom line is, when we look better, we feel better!

Physical benefits:

  • In addition to the psychological benefits, running has so many physical benefits. With the exception of cross-country skiing, running burns more calories than any other physical activity!
  • Cardiovascular health is greatly improved through running by increasing your heart rate and working the heart muscles on a regular basis
  • Running can increase HDL levels, which improves overall cholesterol in the body
  • The immune system gets a boost through running with an increase in white blood cells. These are the fighter cells in the body, which can combat the early stages of diseases like diabetes and cancer
  • Running also improves bone health. Weight bearing exercises increase bone density and prevent injury and the onset of osteoporosis
  • And finally, running improves lung capacity and promotes better breathing which enhances general overall health

Before you start:

  • Go and see your doctor before you start any new type of exercise, especially if you’ve been inactive for a while
  • Get yourself a little book or a diary – keeping a record of what you do and how you feel will be great to look back on and feel good about
  • Print out your programme, put it up somewhere prominent and put the first few dates/times in your diary
  • Get your friends involved – they will be invaluable when you’re down and need motivating!

Some points to help you with your training program:

  • Start training as early as possible. Leaving it too late will put you under pressure and could increase nerves on the day. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!
  • Buy and use your footwear in advance. Breaking in new footwear the week before or the day of the race is asking for debilitating blisters so make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
  • Do not train on a full or empty stomach. Too little food before and you will lack energy but too much and you will be sluggish and will probably get a stitch.
  • Never run if you feel ill, giddy, or if you have an injury
  • Whatever standard of runner you are, always start with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up, followed by some stretching
  • Always stretch after running to reduce stiffness and the risk of injury
  • Always allow an extra 10 – 15 minutes for each session so that you can warm up and stretch down properly
  • Start training slowly. If you have never run before or walked long distance, it is best to build up your fitness and endurance levels slowly. Start small, about 20- 30 minutes a day for the first week, gradually increasing by 5-10 minutes a week. Try training in intervals, 1 minute of fast walking/ running then 2 minutes of slow recovery walking. Over the weeks, gradually increase your work periods and decrease your rest periods
  • Increase your water intake as training can deplete your hydration levels. A well hydrated body will work more efficiently
  • Incorporate plenty of rest and recovery into your training programme. Three to four days a week should be enough training days for a complete beginner. Even advanced trainees will require at least two rest days a week. Try to increase the amount of sleep you get during your training, your body will thank you for it
  • Plenty of protein after training will help your muscles recover quicker for the next session and mean you will be less sore. Fruit is a great source of energy after training
  • Try and do all training sessions each week, but don’t worry if you miss the odd one
  • If you’re gasping for air, you’re going too fast – you should be able to talk as you go

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

John Bingham

Good Luck