Running. For some people it’s a wonderful form of exercise that releases endorphins and makes them feel like they’re flying. For others, it is the worst form of punishment in the world used by coaches or boot camp trainers.
This brings me to my first part in a three-part series: the reasons people do not run.
You may not run for various reasons. Maybe because you’d rather sprint than go long distance, or even because it is very difficult to gain muscle when doing so much cardio. And beyond that, people are concerned with looking silly or out of shape while running.
These are common and understandable reasons not to run.
To address the first concern of you’d rather sprint than run long distance. Sprints and suicides are popular and extremely beneficial ways to run; running 400m as fast as you can and feeling fast is an awesome sensation. It was always great as kid to be considered the fastest, not the one who could run for an hour and not be out of breath. No one ever cared about stuff like that. But now, being able to compete in a 5K or go for a jog with your neighbor is a great goal. It can seem daunting to say, “I’m going to run 6 miles.” Running is a mental game, so instead tell yourself, “I’m going to run 3 miles.” If you run 3 miles in one direction, you have no choice but to run 3 miles back home, and next thing you know you’ve completed 6 miles. Generally, you can do more than you think you can.
The other issue is for those who are trying to gain muscle. It has been proven that the more chronic cardio you do, the less muscle you are able to maintain or build. As you perform extended cardio, your body begins to break down its fat, and you commonly lose weight overtime. However, when you have little fat to lose and have don’t have a high enough calorie intake, your body will begin to break down its muscle. It is common to see long-distance runners who are very lean, and less muscular than sprinters, because they are not concerned with keeping on too much muscle. Running for 2 hours burns about 1000 or more calories, and just 30 minutes depending on weight and speed can burn about 300 calories. However, those trying to gain muscle typically still do some form of cardio 2-3 times a week. Why not run? Running is perfect because it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can always run. No equipment necessary, and as long as you up your calorie intake that day, you shouldn’t have an issue with muscle gain. One of my friends lifts weights everyday, and has built a lot of muscle over the course of the last couple of semesters. However, he runs 2-3 times a week, for about 30 minutes, and he hasn’t had any issues with muscle loss.
The last reason you may not run is for fear of looking silly and inexperienced while running. Like any sport or exercise, it takes time and patience. You can’t expect to put on running shoes and run for 4 miles and feel great. It takes a lot of time. I used to not be able to run for a mile without being out of breath, but as I began to build up my base I was able to increase beyond that. I used to look so silly running. I was constantly out of breath, panting, sore, and drooling because I was too tired to swallow my spit. People would say stuff to me, and I became embarrassed so I switched to a treadmill where no one could see me. That’s okay! Start running in a place you are comfortable, and you can go your own pace. However, as you are able to increase mileage and speed, try stepping outdoors for a few runs. Don’t expect to be able to run 4 miles at an 8 minute pace because you were able to do it on a treadmill. Outside, you have to propel yourself forward; the road doesn’t do it for you. And don’t feel discouraged by other runners passing you or who look like they are barely trying. They all started where you are.
We all have to have our weak moments to become stronger. If you are still worried about running, find a partner to run with. Running with friends keeps you motivated to keep up and not all eyes will be on you as you run.
Just remember: if you run, you’re a runner! And stay tuned for next weeks post: why you should run versus other forms of cardio.