By Hannah E. Whitcombe
Running (at any pace or distance) has been shown to increase weight loss, improve muscle tone, regulate sleep, increase stamina and improve our mental health. So, with all the benefits that running has to offer, why aren’t more of us getting involved?
It is a common misconception that some of us are runners and some of us are not. This is simply not true! It would be more accurate to say that some of us run and some of us choose not to. Running is an activity that can be adapted to all ages and levels of fitness.
Further, we seem to have a belief (or excuse) that running is hard on the joints and bad for the body, particularly if we are of a certain age. Again, this is simply not true!
Running incorrectly may harm the body to some extent, but there are certainly things we can do to reduce the risk of injury and enjoy all the benefits that running has to offer, at any age, shape or size. So, what can we do?
Buy A Good Pair Of Running Shoes
First and foremost, get yourself a good pair of running shoes. It’s amazing what a difference a good pair of trainers can make. It will make the run more enjoyable but will more importantly help to prevent strains and injuries to the ankles, knees, hips and lower back. If you are unsure of what trainers work best for you, find a sports shop that offer a free running assessment.
Go At Your Own Pace
Often new runners are unsure of how far or fast they should be going. A good way to start running is by doing a ‘Couch-to-5K’ program, which encourages running for short bursts at a time until you are ready to progress. There is even a FREE app that you can download to talk you through it. Check out the program on the NHS website!
Join A Running Group Or Free Event
If you are lucky enough to have some nice parks in your area, there are guaranteed to be several running groups, who cater to all levels and abilities. There is also a free 5KM event called Park Run, which is a timed event on a Saturday morning at 9am run by fantastic volunteers. Have a look on their website for your nearest http://www.parkrun.org.uk
Find A Time Of Day That Works Best For You
One of the things that puts many people off is the thought of getting up at 6am on a cold winter’s morning, conversely many people enjoy the freshness of the morning and the peace and quiet. It just depends what works for you! Regularity is key, so try to schedule some time in your diary that you think you will stick to. Even a 20-minute run on your lunch break can have huge benefits.
Remember To Stretch
Stretching before and after a run helps to warm up the muscles and prevent injury. In addition, tight muscles in the calves and thighs are a leading cause of back pain due to the pull that they can have on the pelvis and lower back. So find a stretch program that works for you, grab a decent pair of running shoes, download the free app and just go for it!
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