Chances are very good that each day you drive by the river pathway on the way to or from work, you see someone running. Somehow you find it intriguing. Soon you become to look for them as you pass by every day.
They look so relaxed, fit, and almost serene as they run easily along the path. Soon you start recognizing some of the same people over the course of any given week. It seems that running has become part of their routine and they have developed a running habit.
“Why couldn’t I do that?” you wonder. You have the time. The time that you spend on the computer or watching T.V. could easily be cut down.
Well, you can do that. Be honest, what do you see when you look in the mirror? Are you a longtime executive who has made the climb up the corporate ladder? Complete with all those lunches, dinners, and business cocktails covered by your expense account. Is the good life directly related to the spare tire you seem to be carrying around? Or possibly to your doctor’s warning last visit that your cholesterol was approaching dangerous levels?
Or perhaps you are a housewife who has devoted most of her adult life so far to being a super mom. Well that’s great. For everyone else.
When you look at yourself, do you look tired? Do you feel rundown? Do you feel that you need something to provide a physical and emotional spark in your life?
If you are one of these people, or anyone else for that matter, it is never too late to change what you see when you take a long, hard look at yourself. Mostly it’s about telling yourself that enough is enough and you want to start doing something for “you.” For your “own” health and well-being.
So you decide you want to take up running. It seems the one physical activity that will conform to any schedule you are on. All you need to do is invest in a well-fitting pair of running shoes and appropriate running clothes for the time of the year.
Have a talk with your doctor about your plans. I’m sure he will be thrilled.
Remember, the human body is remarkable. Often, I think of it as the first wonder of the world. Think about it. If a person becomes relegated to a wheelchair, they develop stronger arms in order to propel themselves. If a person becomes blind, their body responds by fine tuning their other senses They become more adept at understanding the world around them by touch, smell, and hearing. The ticking of a clock or a dripping faucet, sounds we often ignore, will be directional indicators for them. An acute sense of smell will warn them of smoke. Their touch will tell them hot from cold. In other words, our bodies will adapt to what we ask of it. We are the masters, and our bodies do all everything possible to meet the demands we place upon it. Ask little of our bodies, and that’s what we’ll get. Little.
If you begin running and do too much too soon, your body will let you know. It is sensing that you are taking it somewhere it’s not used to being. You are waking up muscles, joints, and sinew that has been in a slumber for a very longtime.
That initial pain that new runners feel is often enough to make them give up before they even start.
That’s why it’s crucial to start out very cautiously. Even by just walking at a fairly quick pace for the first few weeks would really help wake you body up to the fact that something new is beginning to happen. Walk 15 minutes no less than 3 times per week, and preferably 4. Even with that, you may feel some aches and pains where you never felt it before. You may find yourself huffing and puffing. That’s o.k.! Don’t give up. Once your body knows this is for real and this is what is going to be expected, it will eventually accommodate you by strengthening those aching muscles and breathing new life into your heart and lungs. That’s why it’s important to have a consistent plan that has you testing your body several times a week.
Every week, add a little to your walking distance. Even just 5 minutes. In a month you will find yourself walking 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week.
Now it’s time to pick up the pace a little. Add some running to your walking. Run 3 minutes-walk 2 minutes. Repeat this 3 or four times. Call it a day. See how it feels the next day. Take a rest day and do it again. Well, you get the picture. Every week challenge your body a bit more. Run a bit longer and walk less with each passing week. Go slow. It’s taken a lifetime to get out of shape. But it will take much less to get into shape if you are patient.
Another month passes and now you are running 10 minutes non-stop, taking a short walking break, and running 10 more minutes. About six more weeks pass and now you can run 30 minutes non-stop and one day a week you add 5 minutes to that and call it your “long run” day. You continue to have rest days at frequent intervals and always run 3 or 4 times per week
Your long run day reaches 45 minutes another month down road. And something remarkable is beginning to happen. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Now your heart is fine-tuned to pump blood at a moments notice to your working body. It begins to beat stronger and with less effort. Your lungs are expanding more easily to take in the influx of air running exercise requires.