Run for your life

04 Sep 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

The benefits of running far outweigh the effort and it’s great for your health, too. Ailish Fleming gives it a go and explains why she’s a jogging convert

It used to absolutely kill me. Laps around the pitch were my least favourite part of football training; it’s why I chose triple jump and hurdles over the long distance races.

So why on earth have I signed up to do a 10K? Running is arguably one of the best exercises you can do to keep fit. It strengthens your legs, increases your cardiovascular ability and releases more endorphins than eating your favourite chocolate bar. It’s completely free, a great way to explore and a proven stress buster. 

“Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions,” website says.

“What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life, and even helps you live longer.”

Over the summer, running was the easiest way for me to keep up my fitness and I’ve learned to love it – even on the days I hate it. The key is to start slowly. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’ll knock out 5K in 20 minutes on your first run. Like anything practice makes perfect and the more you run, the better you’ll get. It’s time to lace up those trainers and get going.

Here are a few useful tips to help keep you on the running bandwagon:  

Set achievable goals


Throwing yourself into a ridiculous training plan is a sure-fire way to do yourself damage and put you off running completely. It could be as little as aiming to add five minutes of running into your usual walk. Set new goals as you start to feel more comfortable. I started by running for 15 minutes, gently increasing the time until half an hour was no problem. You won’t catch me running marathons, but goals and achievements are all relative.  

Find something that motivates you


Let’s face it, if you really don’t want to run you just won’t. Find something that makes 

you want to get out there and get your heart pumping. Perhaps it’s an outfit you want to look great in at an upcoming event. Maybe it’s so you can afford to pile your plate high at the buffet. Try looking at the long-term benefits, too, like being able to keep up with your kids when they want to play football or hike through wadis. 

Stop making excuses


You’re hungry, you’re tired and you don’t have time. I bet there are hundreds of reasons you could come up with NOT to go for a run, but are they really good enough? Go to bed a little earlier so you can squeeze in a run in the morning. Regular exercise actually increases your energy levels and helps you sleep better, so it’s a win-win situation. 

Don’t run every day


Like anything new, the novelty of taking up a hobby sometimes means you want to do it as much as possible. There’s no better way to put yourself off running than by overdoing it and getting injured. Your muscles need rest time to repair themselves and get stronger, which will help you improve your running in the long term. 

Keep a routine


Research shows it takes 21 days to form a habit. Personally, having become so accustomed to exercising regularly, I’m a right grump when I don’t get a workout in. Once you’re used to doing something, it’s hard to stop. Running is rewarding and honestly, you’ll never regret the runs you do; only those you don’t do. 

Why not use September to start your running habit? Try this run-walk plan for the next month and see if you can make running part of your exercise routine:

Week 1

Start with a five-minute walk to warm up.
Alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes

Week 2

Five-minute walking warm-up.
2 minutes of walking, 90 seconds of running for 20 minutes

Week 3

Five-minute walking warm-up.
90 seconds of walking, 90 seconds of running x 2
3 minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running x 2

Week 4

Five-minute walking warm-up.
3 minutes of running, 90 seconds of walking
5 minutes of running, 2.5 minutes of walking
3 minutes of running, 90 seconds of walking
5 minutes of running

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