Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How I Started Running

Ever since I was at school I knew I can't run. Every time they made us run in fitness class I was imagining how miserable I will feel by the end of it (that is if I make it till the end)...

So with all that said, running wasn't really my first thing to try to lose these pounds I needed to lose.

I tried some programs and classes and had some results with them, but I wanted more. So I started asking fitness savvy people around me: "What can I do in addition to what I am already doing to shed these pounds off my body?" In many cases the answer was: "Start running".

Starting Running

Now, it isn't that easy to start running (and I think in some cases it maybe also damaging to joints) when you are overweight. So for me it was important to start slow and make sure I don't get anything injured in the process (and stop running all together). According to my instagram log I started running a bit more than a year ago, and I was 92 kg / 202.8 lbs at that time.

I was very unsure if I could do this all together (remember, I can't run?), but I had great help from a friend (long time runner and healthy eater) who stayed with us for few weeks back then and basically got me started till the point I could continue the path myself.

So here are few tricks which helped me to start.

Don't try to run far/long from the beginning. The truth is your body isn't used to running, so you will get tired and hurt and out of breath pretty fast, and that may make you want to quit.

At first, we were running for few minutes at once (starting from 3 mins) 3 times during one session with enough time of slow walking in between to get a rest, catch up breath and get ready for the next one.

So that was 1 min walk to warm up, then 3 mins run, then 5-10mins walk, then 3 mins run again, again 5-10 mins walk, final 3 mins run and some time of walking to cool down after that (the pic on the left is an actual screen of my very first run stats).

Once I got this mastered (till the point I didn't feel dying after last 3 mins of run), we bumped the last 3 mins interval to be 4mins. Then second interval got extended to 4 mins, then the first one.

Working gradually my way into more running, I was also reducing duration of walking in between. Till the point I had intervals increased to 10 mins and no need of walks in between, so 30 mins in total.

This kind of routine trained my body, allowed it to adjust to the load, and ensured that my exercise is as hard as I want it to be. And that works!

Keep the pace you can sustain. The same as with previous point, your body most likely is not used to run fast if you are just starting. So run as fast as you comfortable can, even if it does look like your running isn't much faster than your walking, still do it. Once you get used to the pace, increase the speed a bit, but don't over do it, let your body get used to it first.

Use running gear. Besides the obvious point - comfort (good running shoes will keep your feet safe and injury-less, running cloth will keep you dry, warm/cool and comfy, sport sun glasses will keep you from squinting, etc), there is also not so obvious one - rewarding yourself. You do all the work out there, don't you deserve to do it in a right gear? For me, getting to use a newly purchased something on my next run is almost as motivational as seeing that lb count going down on my weight-in.

Listen to your body. Not only it will tell you it is time to increase the load (bump pace or distance or time). It will also tell you when it is time to slow down and take it easier, or maybe have a recovery day instead of running. Or add few more mins to warmup routine, or stretch a little deeper. Or work on better running posture. Or that it maybe a time to get new running shoes. Just pay attention.

Track your running and be consistent. Again, obvious reasons first - tracking each run let's you see your progress: Did you run faster or longer this time? Did you do enough to keep the progress up? On the unobvious side is motivation - How often you run? Do you need to run today or is it time for recovery? Did you do more steps than your friends in the challenge or do you need to do one more lap to win it? As you probably noticed I use Instagram log to keep all my fitness activity logged. It also helps me to keep the info even if I change the activity tracker or the app itself (and I did try few).

Last, but not least, eat right. I've talked about eating habits some time ago. I just want to bring it up here as well: it is hard to get your weight under control (even if you train a lot) while eating bad. So check your diet and make sure it is actually helping you to lose weight, not working against you.

Post Scriptum

At this moment I weight 75.00kg / 165.35 lbs and run between 4k and 5km every other day (weather permitting). One run, no walks in between. I could probably do more, but my joints disagree sometimes, so I don't push.

I mostly run in the morning. Yes, I need to wake up early for that to be able to run, stretch, then hit the shower and dry hair, and squeeze my morning vegetable juice too.

It takes between 30 and 40 mins with a warm up and a cool down. And I try to squeeze in at least 10 mins of stretching after each run (if time allows) or doing it later that day.

How I see it now, running is not only great way to lose some pounds and make my body stronger. It is also a mood booster if I run in the morning (starts my day on a right track). And a perfect way to set busy life aside (and a great way to channel off all negativity gathered through the day into something useful) if I go for a run after work.

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