By Laura Studley
Running — a word that can be greeted with feelings of both love and hate. Both a sport and a recreational activity, this exercise is sure to improve your endurance, strength and overall health. If you’re just starting out or have been running for a while, here are some helpful tips you can apply to your next lap around the track.
KEEP A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE
When you are starting out, running tends to wear your body down. It is also difficult to keep your motivation up while running. A consistent schedule gets you running everyday and will help your endurance and strength.
DON’T OVERDO IT
It’s better to still want to keep going at the end of your run, than to try to go a further distance and not want to run the next day. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
If you’re going to stretch before, try dynamic stretching. This type of stretch involves active movements. Joints and muscles go through a full range of motion to help warm up your body before running. After, it’s good to actually stretch your muscles out to help lessen the pain you may feel later.
Carbs are good as long as they’re the right kind. Don’t just eat white bread. Choose brown rice instead of white. It’s about eating food that will provide you with long-lasting fuel. If the carbs you’re ingesting aren’t good, your running performance will suffer.
Whether you are running for exercise or competitively, lung strength is important. When you first start out, your lungs aren’t going to comply. Slow your breathing — in through the nose, out through the mouth, especially if you deal with cramps while running. If you are interested in continuing to make your lungs stronger to keep your endurance up, try running fast for five minutes and then slow for five. This changing of pace forces your body to recover and your lungs to catch up.
Generally, running on pavement will hurt your body in the long run. A dirt trail is best (as long as there’s no intense obstacles like tree roots you have to jump over). Smooth trials won’t wear out your joints as fast and keep you healthier.
AMOUNT OF RUNNING
There’s no set distance of what a ‘“run” consists of (unless you’re doing it for sport). It doesn’t matter if you run a mile or five, keeping your heart healthy doesn’t take much. It’s not about how much you can force your body into shape, it’s about enjoying it.