Summer is fast approaching and the need for that perfect summer body is becoming more important to me each day. As I’ve said in previous articles, I’m a lover of the weights. If it’s heavy and metal, I’ll be the first one to get my hands dirty! However, something that I’m not so good with is the cardio side of things. More specifically, running.
Running is important for a healthy cardiovascular system, and while a combination with weights is desirable for weight loss, cardio will definitely help with this process. Additionally, weight lifting does require some cardio as weights increase and the workout becomes more intense, and therefore being cardiovascular fit will aid your other training.
However, for me, there is nothing I hate more than standing on a treadmill and watching as the time or distance you set for yourself slowly ticks away whilst your legs are hurting, your gasping for breath, and your sweating profusely. Not a great look, and certainly not a great feeling. But coming from a family of accomplished marathon runners, and understanding the benefits of running, I decided that this spring I’d start the dreaded path on foot to a healthier body.
Okay, so I’m in my third week of what I can only describe as torture but I must admit the pain has decreased since the first week and I do feel good in myself after each run – once I’ve caught my breath and had a glass of water! I’ve ran both inside on the treadmill and outside on the road, and from experience, both are difficult but I find running on the road more rewarding – not to mention more bearable!
Road running provides different scenes on your way unlike the screen that appears to stand still in time on the treadmill. A lot of people prefer the treadmill because it means they’re out of site from the public view, which I understand, but for me running with cars passing me regularly pushes me to keep going, as I think to myself, ‘I’m not going to let them see me stop.’ There is also the temptation of the treadmill to just call it quits and hop off once it gets too difficult – something I admittedly have done, and after I recovered from the ‘pain’ I did not feel good about myself. However, with road running once you’re out, you’re out, you can turn back and cut it short but you’ve still got to get back to where you started somehow!
My advice for anyone trying to get into running would be to mix it up. Don’t stick to the same distance at the same pace, it not only gets boring but you actually reduce the effect of the exercise by not pushing your body beyond its limits. Try running for time and see how far you can get in say thirty minutes, increasing your speed every five to ten minutes, depending on how you’re feeling. Alternatively, run for a distance and work to improve your time by increasing your speed at certain points on your run, e.g. for every 0.5kms you run, try make the next 0.5kms a little bit faster. A great way to improve your cardio fitness is interval training – run at a fast pace for a set amount of time/distance and then slow it down to a jog for a shorter time/distance. This is great for improving speed.
Of course, I’ve tried all of these, and if I’m being honest I don’t love any of them. However, what I do love is watching myself improve. The distance that I began with three weeks ago had me stopping to catch my breath back, caused me to jog so slow near the end that I was almost walking, and generally made me not feel good during the exercise. However, now I can run that same distance without stopping, and have improved my speed. With this my confidence has improved, something that I think plays a major factor in running – if you don’t think you can do it, you probably won’t be able to. Be confident, and set yourself realistic goals, start slow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The first few runs I did I set myself a distance but I avoided timing myself because I knew it would affect my confidence to see how slow I was. But I kept going, blasting some of my favourite songs to keep me motivated and I’m slowly seeing and feeling the results.
Running can be fun (supposedly) but if you’re like me and can’t seem to enjoy it at the time, at least take something from the good feeling afterwards. Once you’re fitter it’ll get better, and you’ll find yourself wanting to push yourself to the next stage of your running ability as you start to see the results.