Running: it’s what you do.
I think one of most important parts of trying to get healthy and lose weight is exercise. Why? Because you can’t lose weight consistently by restricting calories alone. Sure, the first couple pounds might roll right off, but as you continue losing weight you’re going to hit plateaus and that is where exercise comes in.
For me, exercise has varied. I used to dance, play varsity volleyball, run track but I’ve also always worked out on my own. Now that I’m in college, I do a lot of my work outs on my own at my school gym. I also joined the rugby team so I had something to push me to work super hard at least 3x per week. During the off season (or now, when I’m studying abroad) I have to rely on my own discipline to get me out of bed and into my gym clothes.
I’m in a peculiar situation right now because apparently no one in Paris works out…Despite this however, the gyms are still ridiculously overpriced. (and frankly, if no one works out, than the prices of gyms should GO DOWN. just sayin’). So instead of going to the gym, I’ve gone swimming a couple of times and now that it’s getting nice out I’ve started to run again.
Running is probably one of THE best forms of exercise that you can participate in. Why? Because for the price of a pair of running shoes (mine were about $60) you can run as many times as you want, pretty much anywhere you want, and still get amazing results. All without subscribing to a gym or getting a personal trainer.
Reasons why running is so great:
1. burns tons of calories
2. leads to better cardiovascular heath
3. slows the aging process
One thing that I’d like to point out is that it is in fact possible to run incorrectly. Now, I’m not a doctor nor am I certified with any kind of fitness degree but I can speak from experience with injuries due to running incorrectly.
For me, the best form is to land mid-foot. Not directly on your toes, and definitely not in a heel-toe motion. (that’s the killer right there). First of all landing heel first is counter productive. The heel acts as a brake, when you actually want to continue your motion. Landing mid-foot not only removes this ‘brake’ but it also removes the pounding pressure that heel striking puts on your knees and hips.
Due to the design of many running shoes these days, people think that huge padded heels are the only way to escape runner’s knee, etc. When in fact, these padded heels are the reason all the problems in the first place!
Last summer, co-worker of mine told me to read Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. He said that it changed his life, and his running pattern. Not only did he get rid of all the pain he had while running, but he also no longer needed the shoe inserts that his doctor had prescribed! I read it and absolutely loved it! McDougall is one hell of a guy. He advises barefoot running however; this isn’t very convenient for many people. Luckily the ‘barefoot’ revolution is catching on and there are more and more ‘neutral’ running shoes on the market. These shoes have little to no padding on them. The shoes I bought are actually made for cross country running. They weigh virtually nothing, they dry out quick if I go running in the rain, AND they’re super cute! (pink, black, and white). They were no more expensive than any other pair of running shoes and now I don’t have to pay extra money to go to an orthopedic doctor!
I would suggest reading McDougall’s book. It’s not all science and terms, it’s a story of how he found the ‘right’ way to run from a tribe of unknown people in New Mexico (I think it was NM…). Anyway, it’s a totally interesting read and I COMPLETELY and FULLY recommend it.
I’ve never had problems with running since changing the way I run. I was on the verge of quitting rugby after spending several semesters injured. Then I changed my running pattern, and I haven’t had any problems since! (well aside from injuries brought on by being tackled by massive rugby girls- but I don’t think you’ll be encountering any of them on your runs)
I’m just getting back into running after a rugby injury (sprained MCL - thank you girl who landed ON me) and I couldn’t be happier. I literally feel happier now that I’m running.
Of course, I’m not running all the time because:
1. I’m exploring Paris
2. I’m exhausted from thinking in French/taking classes/being sick
3. It’s been too cold
BUT now that its getting nice out I’m starting to go more often. Generally I make it my goal to run as much as I can for 30mins. I take breaks if I need them - which I do, because the park that I run in is FULL of hills - but the next time I go running I try to take shorter breaks that way I’m making some kind of progress.
There are plenty of running programs out there for people who want something a bit more regimented. For some reason I can never really bring myself to follow them because I get bored following routines..
I suggest www.runnersworld.com - they know what they’re talking about. Plus, they have great plans for beginners and distance training if you want to train for a race. And they have some info on barefoot running too, if you want to check it out.
www.coolrunning.com has a great “Couch to 5k” running plan that actually looks pretty great.
Also, if you just google “beginner running programs” or something similar, you’ll come up with hundreds of great resources that can help you get started!
So get out there, enjoy the sun, get happy, and get into shape!