Running is no doubt one of the best types of cardio you can do for your entire body. It’s great for blood circulation, strengthening your muscles, and heart health. However, like many things in life, just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean it’s easy (like choosing a salad over pizza…healthy, yes; easy, no way). I had always found running intimidating until I learned how to run the proper way and make it fun. Call me a health freak, but now I get a little thrill out of lacing up my sneakers and stepping outside for a long beach run. So, when I noticed that many of you has been requesting a blog post about how to learn to love running, I did a little research, reflected back on my days as a beginner, and put it all down in writing.
Here are my tips on how to learn to love running…
1. Know the right form.
If you’re not a runner, running won’t be easy at first. And it definitely won’t be easy if you don’t learn how to run properly. If you aren’t used to exercising much at all, you should build up a base level of fitness before starting to run. Start by going on walks or hikes, and increase the distance until you feel comfortable walking at a brisk pace for 30-60 minutes. Biking or going on the elliptical at the gym are also great ways to get your body in shape before trying out running. Once you’re comfortable enough to go on a run, the most important thing to remember is to take each step with the balls of your feet, not your heels. This will help soften the impact on your joints, and you won’t get injured later on.
2. Don’t start off too big.
If you’ve never run before and you try going for 3 miles your first time, you’re not going to have fun (and you will probably be in some pain the next day). As with all things, take baby steps. If you need to run for a minute then walk for a minute when beginning, do what your body is comfortable with. Start off slow, and work your way up to longer distances and faster speeds.
3. Get good music.
To me, a good running playlist is everything. If you like to workout to music, creating a running playing might make all the difference between hating running and loving it. I choose upbeat songs (think top 40 remixes) because they motivate me and actually make me feel like I’m having a little workout party. Sounds strange, but with a good playlist you might feel the same way!
4. Take it outside.
I find that running outside makes it easier for me to lose track of time and get distracted by things around me, therefore making my run go by faster. Running outside will give you things to look at and hopefully help you not to focus on how long you’ve been running or how hard it might feel. Running hills and different terrains will definitely make your runs more challenging, so start off by finding a flat route that loops back to your starting point. I like running routes that loop back because you have to keep going in order to finish—no turning back.
5. Download some fun apps.
These days, there are apps for almost anything you want to do. The same goes for running. One app called Couch to 5k helps beginners with a mostly sedentary lifestyle ease into a 5k run. The Nike+ Running app is my personal favorite because it tells me how long I’m going, how fast I’m going, how many calories I’m burning, and even lets me select a playlist from my iPhone to power up my run.
6. Know the benefits.
I’ve now come to realize that I didn’t truly learn to like running until I fully understood the good it was doing for my entire body. Running pumps blood throughout your body and brain, gets your heart rate up, releases endorphins, helps you sweat out toxins, and builds strong leg and abdominal muscles. Once I understood that running did all those things for my body, I began to love sweating it out regularly.
While I do believe running is an excellent exercise and one that I’ve learned to love, every person is different. I have my days when the last thing I want to do is hit the pavement, so I go to a spin class or yoga instead. If you find that running isn’t for you, try out a few other workout classes and see what you like best. Walking is also an easy and great way to get moving during the day. As long as you’re finding a way to make your lifestyle active and healthy, you’re good to go.
What’s your favorite workout? And what fitness topics would you like to see me cover next?