SCAN Squats: Running

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by Victor via Flickr

Honestly, running is really hard. I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy, because it isn’t, and if you are new to running then you will probably want to quit at every step. Even for the most seasoned runners getting your running shoes out of the cupboard and actually setting off for the run without being tempted by a bit of TV or an extra chocolate bar can be difficult.

As a type of exercise, it’s something that I’ve not always been a massive fan of, mostly because I’m not very good at it, but also because it just really hurts. I’m writing this article literally straight after getting in from a run, I thought it would be the best way to make sure that I explain exactly how running makes me feel, and I was right. I’m hot and sweaty and completely worn out.

It’s not all bad news though, there are a number of reasons why running can be great. It’s almost completely free, apart from the cost of a good pair of running shoes which is something most of us have anyway. It’s good for your health and for your heart, there was a recent study shown in ‘Runners World’ which showed that an hour of running can increase your life expectancy by up to 7 hours. So if you run for half an hour every day for a week then you’ll be increasing your life by an entire day. That doesn’t sound too bad if you ask me.

For me, running is a great escape. I can blast my music and run by the river or canal and I feel so much more peaceful. I don’t run very far or for very long but it helps me to get away from work and release all the energy that I’ve gained from the excess caffeine that I consume whilst working. I think this is something that is so important when you are full of stress from your essays or exams or whatever else you do.

There are a few things to remember if you’re going to take up running, and here’s my advice:

Don’t push yourself too hard

If you are new to running, or if you have run before but not for a while, then it’s really important that you don’t push yourself too far. One of the problems with running is that you will usually need to run in a circle and the further away you get then the further you have to run to get back. People often forget this and end up running too far and only managing to run the first half and having to walk the rest because they literally run out of steam.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing a gentle run and pausing every now and then for a break but it’s just far more economic and time-saving if you can work out how far is too far for you to begin with. You can build up your distance and speed over time, so don’t worry about going off as hard as you can to begin with. If you push yourself too hard on your first run you’re far more likely to quit before the end of the week, or injure yourself, and you don’t want to do that.

Don’t forget to stretch

I’m pretty sure this is something I bang on about ALL the time but that’s because it is REALLY important. If you do any exercise then you should stretch afterwards but I can tell you from past experience that if you don’t stretch after running then you’ll wake up the following morning and it will honestly feel like someone has buried a knife in your calves. Running really will turn stairs into your biggest nemesis and you’ll be begging your friends to carry you down the stairs on their back.

Stop if you get injured

It’s pretty easy to get injured when you’re running because of the impact that the motion has on your body, especially your knees, ankles and legs. If you feel like you have pulled something or you are in a lot of pain when you run, stop immediately, literally half way through your run if you have to. Problems with your knees and ankles can be a long and difficult fix and if you are training for a specific race then it’s important that you look after yourself. That means if you get injured don’t run through it because believe me you will regret it.

Even though I would definitely suggest you stop running if you’re injured, and I meant this, don’t use this as an excuse not to get out of breath. You can still push yourself. Set yourself targets every week and make sure you’re pushing a little bit harder every time you go out. Once you have settled into running you’ll notice that this will come more naturally and you’ll know what you can and can’t do better.

Make a kick-ass playlist

If you are anything like me then you won’t be able to run without listening to music. I’ve found that I run so much better when I don’t have to listen to my own breathing so I put my headphones on and play songs with really heavy drops in them because it’s what keeps me going. This is a personal preference because I know some people like to listen to rock music or pop music when they run so find what works for you and stick to it. I’ve had the same workout playlist for over 2 years and it still makes me push myself harder every time I go out.

Enjoy yourself

This is the most important thing of all. You have to do something that you enjoy when it comes to exercise otherwise you’ll find it incredibly difficult to carry on. If you prefer to run on a treadmill, do this. If you prefer to run a different route every time to get different views, do this. If you prefer to run with friends, do this. It’s all up to your own personal preference and I’ll leave you to decide how you run best and what you enjoy the most.