RUN YOUR WAY TO FITNESS – OUR GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS
Running is one of the best ways to get in shape. It will help you to lose weight, improve your aerobic fitness, and boost your confidence. In the first of a three-part series Liz Champion explains how to get started. In part one we look at why running is good for you and focus on how to overcome the barriers to running.
Running is a great way to improve aerobic fitness and lose weight. Regular running has been proven to strengthen your heart rate and cardiovascular system and combined with healthy eating, helps to reduce excess body fat. You’ll soon notice results in your body shape and overall fitness. In just a few weeks you’ll feel fitter, toned and energetic.
There’s also a fantastic sense of achievement when you’ve completed a run, which is great for your self-esteem. Exercising regularly will definitely improve your mood and can also help to reduce stress.
Benefits of running
• It’s one of the best sports for weight loss and burning excess fat.
• It helps keep the heart, lungs and circulation healthy.
• It improves fitness and muscle tone.
• It increases confidence and gives you a feeling of achievement.
• It’s a good stress buster.
• It’s fun and can help improve your mood.
There are lots of reasons why you should run. As well as the health benefits it’s also a great chance to meet people and make new friends. But even with the social and health benefits, some people struggle to get started. Here are some of the main barriers to running, with tips on how you can get past them.
Time and work
Not having enough time is one of the most common barriers to running. But the good thing is that you don’t need a lot of time. A 20 or 30 minute run a few times a week will get you started. All you need to do is get your trainers on and go. It’s simple.
Being too busy is another barrier. The work is piling up, you have deadlines to meet, and going for a run is not a priority. But if you did go for a run, for example, at lunchtime, you would probably be more productive than if you’d worked straight through. Research has backed this up.
Lack of fitness
Some people feel they are not fit enough, or are carrying too much weight, to even start running. The main thing to remember is that anyone can run and you can build up to it slowly, at your own pace. Before you begin training it’s recommended that you have a health check and seek advice from a medical professional. It’s also a good idea to join a running club or group to access help from qualified coaches and running experts. They will design a running programme that is specific to your goals and current fitness levels.
The reality is that there are runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Don’t be self-conscious. Get out there and enjoy it.
Finding the motivation to train can be difficult. To help keep you focused and motivated, try to focus on the positives and the benefits of running. The hardest part is getting out of the front door. Once you are out and running, you will enjoy it. If you are struggling to motivate yourself, think how good you will feel after the run. It’s a great feeling of satisfaction.
It’s also useful to work towards a goal. You may want to take part in a race, or run a specific distance.
Arranging to meet friends is also a good way to make sure that you train. You’ll enjoy the run and are more likely to run when you’ve arranged to meet someone.
Keeping a training diary is also a good motivator as you can record your progress and see how much you have improved.
Running with music is also a good motivator.
Feeling that you are too old to start running is another of the main barriers to running. In reality, you are rarely too old to run. Many people have taken up running in later life and gone on to complete half marathons and marathons.
There may be lots of barriers to running, but if you are determined to start running, you will do it. There’s really no excuse not to start.
Coming soon …
In part two we focus on clothing and trainers to make sure you have the right kit to train. In part three we show you how to get started with our walk to run programme.
Liz Champion is a qualified fitness instructor and England Athletics Run Leader.