I had mentioned before how I tried to start running in the past and fail miserably. When you are over 80 kilograms, stepping out that front door is the hardest thing. A multitude of excuses would run through your head as you begin those first steps. Believe me as I went through that too. It would take me sometimes up to two months just to make my first run and after that I’d take a six to twelve months break before I tried it again.
The best way to get started is to “Just Do It”. However, just going out and doing it is not enough. You have to step out on the right foot or you will suffer negative consequences that can set you back several months. Another common philosophy is “No pain, no gain”; in my opinion, this is also a misplaced philosophy. It is only true if you are targeting to be a competitive athlete. If this is you, then these blogs of mine are not for you. Exercising should not only be effective but it also has to be enjoyable or you won’t stick with it. Competitive athletes have an entirely different mindset and therefore have greater willpower to overcome the pains of hard training. For the simpleton who wishes only to manage their weight and develop a healthy lifestyle, the steps are so much less excruciating.
Your First Run
Consider this your first run ever. Remember that you are not as fit as you were some years back when you could still climb over walls and sprint across the soccer field. That was then. Now you are older and your muscles have been dormant for quite awhile. So, you need to wake your muscles up and give them time to adjust. Start you first few sessions just brisk walking all the way. Two to three kilometers on your first three session should do you wonders. After that step it up with two-minutes busts of slow jogging. You can develop this into a run gradually.
There are only six simple points that you need to adhere to and you are on your way.
The first and most important aspect of running – running shoes. Make sure you get a good pair of running shoes. Running shoe are designed to take the impact on your feet. The sole is designed to ease the transition of motion from your heel to your toe. They are called running shoes for a reason. It does not have to be expensive but it has to be decent; and that means no Bata Power shoes. Sorry to shoot down a brand but I have found Power shoes to give you more problems than you need. If it is not a pair of running shoe, it is not meant for running. Also, don’t pull out the pair of runners that you bought some years back which you have been using for all sorts of non-sports activities. The cushions are probably all worn out. If you do not follow this most important advice, you will most likely end up telling people how running is bad for your knees and ankles and other stupid reasons why you should not be running. And another thing, don’t bloody borrow a pair of shoes from your siblings or your best friend unless you both share the same exact pair of feet.
Basically, if you haven’t run for more than two years, get a brand new pair. Make certain that the shoes feel comfortable. Nice fancy looking adidas or Nike does not help your feet; comfortable running shoes irrelevant of colour or design do.
Last but not least; along with a decent pair of shoes, you must wear socks. Yes, I know there are many of you who prefers not to wear socks but if you love your feet and don’t plan on developing blisters, wear socks. They must be sports socks as they are so much more absorbent. Socks also reduce sweat buildup in your shoes and thus avoiding bacterial infections. If you’d like you can take it a notch up and get running socks, I thoroughly vouch for these. Running socks put necessary tension on the arc of your feet where you would feel the most muscle strain.
2. Plan Your Workout
The next step is to plan your workout sessions. It is important to schedule your workout and stick with it. Running, cycling or any form of exercise has to be developed into a habit. Once it becomes a habit, you will automatically make the time for it. If you have a heavy television schedule, it is because that is your habit. You hate waking up early on the weekends to build a healthy body because it is a habit to laze on the weekends.
Start easy. A 30-minutes workout, two or three days a week is a good start. Pick the days and time of workout that suits you best. I do recommend morning workouts as you will feel so much more alert and ready to take on the day. Try not to change your schedule and tell your friends about it. This will reinforce the commitment on your part and it tells people that you will not be disturbed during those times. Better still, invite your friends to join you.
After four weeks, your muscles would have got used to doing something. Now add a daily 15 minutes routine. Get a couple of dumbbells weighing two to three kilograms and work your biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles. One minute focus on each with 15 seconds break in between, then repeat. Next, do one minute of abdominal crunches and another minute of reverse crunches; again take a short 15 seconds break in between, then repeat the process. Within the next three to four weeks, you would have created a daily habitual routine, you will see significant weight loss and you will feel so much more energetic.
3. Warm-Up and Cool-down
Before and after every workout you must perform a series of simple stretching exercises to loosen your muscles and joints in preparation for your workout. Without doing this you risk muscle cramps and joint aches. This is why many complain having joint aches and other muscle aches after their first couple of exercises.
Your warmup routine is pretty much the same as your cool-down routine. Start from the top and work your way down. I have more details in my previous article but basically spend 10 minutes or so stretching and then another 10 minutes walking. For your cool-down you walk the last ten minutes and then go into the stretching routine. In a 30-minutes routine, you will have 10 minutes left for a proper workout. If you can’t do 10 minutes, then you are truly, truly out of shape.
A warmup done properly, would leave you perspiring a little bit. Spend more time warming up if you have too.
Water is an essential part of our lives. You may not feel it is necessary, but this is very important to drink an average of four liters of water daily. You should be able to consume at least a liter of water during a workout. And please don’t complain about having to go to the toilet so often because of drinking water. That is the whole idea. Water not only hydrates you body and make you look younger and better, it also flushes out all that bio-waste and toxins from your system. You want that cleansing process.
Make certain that you have a bottle of water in your hands when you go out for a run. Get a sport water bottle with a spout so you don’t have to screw and unscrew the cap constantly. As you are working out, take small sips of water every couple of minutes. This is to replenish the water lost through perspiration and breathing.
Breathing properly does not come as naturally as you might believe. During your first few sessions, you may have a tendency to hyperventilate. Try to control your breathing by timing it. Start with a four-count method; four seconds to breathe in and four seconds to breathe out. If you breathe too fast, your body won’t have sufficient time to absorb the oxygen and your body needs it to burn the energy required for your muscles. Not enough oxygen means more pain later.
So breathe slowly and enjoy your workout.
You are not preparing to be a sprinter. You are not running against the clock.
When you brisk walk, run, cycle or swim; you must pace yourself. With the exceptions of the recommended two-minutes bursts, you must keep your speed as constant as possible. One method I use is counting. I use the four-count that matches my breathing rhythm. Even your strides (or strokes for swims) must be controlled. Short easy strides will help you pace better and breathe easier.
Now that I have laid it out for you, all you have to do is prepare for your first workout and go out there and start as soon as you can. Set a dateline to begin by the coming weekend. Don’t procrastinate. Soon you will find yourselves joining the leagues of people who enjoy their morning runs and other exercises.
After several months of this, if you feel that you want to up the ante a little, signup for a race. Join a fun run first. They are cheap and easy and you get a free T-shirt. Who knows, you might actually make some new friends too. Most importantly, learn to enjoy exercising.
Good luck and have fun.
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