It seems that there are as many varied reasons why we don’t run as there benefits to be gained from running.
It is fair to say that running isn’t to everyone’s taste; no-one should anyone feel the pressure that they must or are meant to run. We should derive pleasure from all our activities and if you haven’t from running in the past then it’s understandable to be resistant to stepping out again. But I believe running is for everyone, we just have to find the right way to reintroduce ourselves to it.
Give me five minutes of your time and let’s see if we can’t dispel a few myths and find some love for running.
“Running is exhausting”
Running is a physical activity and activity, especially if unfamiliar, can make your body feel unwelcome stresses and strains as well as simply tired.
The first point to answer here is about appropriateness.
If we make a choice to start running and then step out expecting to run for half an hour just like that we’re likely to be over-reaching what’s reasonably possible. Like anything, we have to build into running and give our body time to adapt, develop and grow fitter. So start small and gentle and build up from there.
The second point is about breathlessness.
It is very easy to get out of breath running. If we run quickly this is more likely; equally if we take big strides, carry undue tension and waste energy some other way then we may well find that we have to stop to catch our breath more often than we’d like. This can be off-putting and makes people feel unfit which is of no use to positive motivation.
This series is all about learning to run more easily, so we’ll look more at these points in later articles, but as a general rule: aim for a pace of running you can sustain for a while, perhaps just even five minutes. And walk anytime you need to catch your breath. In a short time you’ll see drastic improvement, but initially some patience is required.
“Running is bad for you”
Running, particularly in cities, involves putting the body through repeated impact with the ground. Pounding the pavements sounds as unattractive as it does unhealthy, but there’s no need to feel that way.
With much new research out, there are ready-made approaches to lessening the impact on your body while running. Have a read of any Barefoot Running literature for more detailed advice, as well as future articles I’ll be posting.
To offer an answer to this is like trying to answer a thousand individual questions at once. We are all different, and what each of us needs varies immensely. Some may benefit from running on grass rather than road, others may need to look at their footwear for relief from impact.
But in general, if you can run with your body in alignment, relaxed, everything swinging to and from the direction your headed in at a pace that is appropriate with safe footwear, then running needn’t be bad for you. If in doubt, read some literature around running techniques or go for a run with a local running club and ask their advice.
I don’t believe running is bad for anyone, but obviously taking the wrong approach to running would be bad for everyone.
I don’t have time
This is the easiest one to answer, because it simply isn’t true. If you can develop a habit for running then it will find time in your day. Simple as that. And a run needn’t be a marathon each time; stepping out for a short ten minute jog is still getting time on your feet, so time should never feel a valid excuse.
Our fickle mind
It is very easy for our mind to create reasons not to do something, particularly something that requires effort when there’s a sofa and a television write there coaxing you in. Recognising what is truth and what is an ungrounded excuse is personal and only you’ll know what lies behind your reasons to run or not.
I urge you to have a look at them again and see if they’re stopping you engage in this wonderful, freeing activity.
This is far from an exhaustive list and your personal reason to run may not have been covered. But whatever it is, ask yourself whether it really is a reason not to get out there in the fresh air and fly up and down some hills.
I hope this series of blog posts might encourage anyone to get out there for a run; the next post will focus on city running so will be relevant to most of us urbanites.