Fitness And Health:The Fashioning Of Wellbeing

Getting Fit And Slim

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FITNESS ADVANCES WELLBEING

RUNNING ACHIEVES FITNESS

FIT AND SLIM COMES BY RUNNING

1. Are you Maximizing Your Fitness Potential for a Fit and Healthy Life?

If you are doing so, then you are most probably in one of the excellent ongoing exercise programs to become fit and slim such as offered here, eating some very healthy Mediterranean diet foods and recipes and getting the proper amount of rest. You must have then purchased the requisite “sporting” gear, and have either become a member of a health and fitness club or have made the purchase of exercise equipment suitable for home. Your exercise gear (sweat suit, running shoes, etc.), equipment and training routines are critical elements and “one size” does not fit all. In making your selection therefore, you must have access to a wide range of choice. Here is an  excellent choice to help you in making your selection of exercises and running routines. With such a wide range of choices, you are bound to find just the right ones for you.

If you are not now keeping fit and healthy, if you are obese or overweight, and especially if you are over fifty, then you are literally throwing away many future years. Fitness and good health will extend your life for many years!

Those years could be the best, and in terms of self fulfillment, could be the most important ones of your life!, Considering the hectic, dedicated and almost selfish activities of your early years, which span the requirements of a normal working life, you could be missing out on much of these later years of your life, especially within the context of family life. Do you not want to enjoy those grand and great-grand kids, watch them grow up and give them the benefits of your wisdom and experience in life? Then  look here for  your  fitness needs and those exercise and equipment tools you will need to get and maintain your body in great shape – to be fit and slim – and thus fashion out a healthy lifestyle.

Learn how to get slim and fit, to have access to fitness routines and exercise programs and thus Optimize Your Potential for a Longer and Healthier Life

This site will try to assist you in choosing or developing an exercise regimen and fitness routines and help you learn common practices on how to get in shape, become fit and slim and maintain a fit and healthy body. Not every exercise or “workout” routine suits everyone equally, and from among  several choices you may have, we will help you identify and determine what harmonizes you best, what activities and routines will facilitate and hasten your progress towards the fitness level for which you crave. It could be one kind of activity, e.g. swimming, or a combination of more than one, push ups, pull ups, sit ups, etc and jogging, and so on, and we will help you do what is best for you. Our choice for attaining that level is of course running, but we will help you to identify  relevant equipment for whatever activity you choose for your fitness goals. You will learn how to actually like and enjoy your chosen physical activity, as that way, it will keep your interest and strengthen your resolve. There are lots of “exercise” activities which (because we ENJOY them we don’t see as “exercise”!) can get your muscles working out, like dancing, jogging, brisk walking, and even when doing household chores and running errands and help to keep you fit and slim. The place of a healthy diet in your fitness aspirations – and particularly in your quest to be fit and slim,  cannot be emphasized enough (when you see the huge amounts of fat some people carry around, what do you think?) and although not being specifically targeted at this point, you might as well begin to  pay some attention to this if indeed, in your progress towards fitness and health, you become, as you desire, fit and slim.

2. FASHIONING YOURSELF INTO FITNESS AND A WELLBEING CENTRE

The attainment of WELLBEING is perhaps man’s ultimate goal. The fundamental building blocks of wellbeing are contained in what we refer to as “worlds”, which are nevertheless contained within man. Elements of this overall wellbeing are variously identified within  three “worlds” which are the: physical world; mental world; and, spiritual world. We speak of attaining overall “fitness and health” through”states” of social wellbeing, physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, etc., but all of these are contained in our overall wellbeing centre.

Within each world, the measurement tool is “health” and we variously describe these as consisting of levels of physical health, mental health and spiritual health. WELLBEING consists of maximizing all of these three “healths” and creating a perfect balance within man. It is the first of these worlds which we will now begin to explore.

THE ATTAINMENT OF FITNESS AND HEALTH

Within the physical world the aim is to achieve its level of wellbeing as part of the overall WELLBEING. This second tier of wellbeing is deemed to be an intimate (symbiotic) mixture of physical (body) fitness and medical (body) health. The building blocks of these two are: exercise; diet; and, rest. For now, we will also deal with the first of these, namely, exercise

a) RUNNING AS AN EXERCISE ACTIVITY TOWARDS FITNESS AND HEALTH – THE NATURAL WAY

There are many “natural” ways(as distinct from such as lifting weights, mountain biking, etc.) of exercising the body, including such as running, swimming, dancing, etc. For present purposes, however, we will choose running as our “natural” breed of exercise.

Why would you choose running as a fitness activity?

When you run, you are literally and figuratively running for your life, a life that you want to be long and healthy, i.e., one that combines longevity and quality. Running raises your level of fitness because it does the following:

 decreases body fat levels and obesity

 enhances cardiovascular health and lowers risk of heart disease and stroke

 prevents the development of many different forms of cancer

 boosts and improves the immune system

 significantly reduces the risk of any cause of death, including diseases such as cancer and diabetes

 facilitates weight loss, making you fit and slim

 increases bone density and fortifies the bones, thus reducing the risk of bone diseases such osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc.

 strengthens muscles thus decreasing the risks of degeneration of joints

 gives greater mobility, flexibility and co-ordination, especially for older people

 ameliorates the risk of muscular aches and pains such as occur in the legs, backs, etc.

 decreases the incidence of stress thus lessening depression and anxiety

 helps you sleep better if you are an insomniac.

Running also helps to get you in a better positive frame of mind. It leaves you “pumped up” with energy and increases motivation for the rest of the day.

How do we prepare for our fitness running?

Initial steps to be taken are:

• get clearance from your doctor for that level of physical activity;

• determine and set aside the specific period (day and time) during which you can, commit and devote to running;

• choose your running outfit or “gear”;

• having the proper hydration equipment, such as water bottles, pouches etc.

Getting a suitable and comfortable pair of running shoes IS ESSENTIAL, as a bad choice can determine your longevity in running. Remember that one’s foot hits with a force somewhere between three and four times one’s body weight, when it strikes the ground – and that really jars you!

Is there a best time to take up running?

No, there is no universally best time for everybody. Obviously, the earlier in life that you start to run, the better it is, because you will sooner – and more quickly! – reach your desired fitness level. If you are overweight or obese, for you, the best time to start is now! So just don your running gear and start out today.

What will happen when I first start to run?

The first thing, you observe, are the embarrassing  indicators of being in a poor condition – but I won’t follow up on these here – you well know the signs of a body lacking in “fitness”! When you first attempt to become fit and healthy by running, the going will not be easy. You will be challenged to sustain it, particularly if you are an older person, you have not been maintaining any sort of physical fitness program, nor, are you the “athletic” type. When you perform any type of exercise which you don’t normally do, like running, your body will be performing actions that it wouldn’t normally do when you are at rest. Your muscles will therefore at first, become sore and stiff. For this pain and soreness, you might get some temporary relief with these tips which also deal with running injuries.  However, the discomfort, with time, will gradually go away if you are not overdoing it, but instead, achieving some degree of fitness.

The key to sustainability and future success, is that you control your impulse to rocket out onto the track, and that instead, you make a leisurely and unhurried start. One of the most common ways of doing this is, to use what is known as a run/walk program. This involves breaking up your running/exercise routine with walking. This has the great advantage that it protects you from early exhaustion – from injury even! – and you are thus able to do much more in any one session.

If I have never run before, what is the best way to start?

The best way to start up a running program is not to run at all – at least not continuously! -  but to include walk breaks. In fact, if you have a low level of fitness, this last statement should read the other way around – your walks should include run breaks! Beginning running for fitness is best accomplished by a mixture of walking and running with the running being added after you have been first walking for a “breaking in” period. The starting off later with very short runs (1-5 minutes) alternated with 1-2 minute walks repeated for 30 -40 minutes will have you up to more regular running in a very short amount of time – as your fitness level will start to go up the “learning” curve.

Conclusion

Running for health and fitness is an achievable goal and you just need to make a start with it. ”Keeping fit and Healthy – The early Stages”, provides some insights, advice and tips on

Running For Fitness And Health

approaches as well as information about exercise programs and running outfits. Now we are “on the road”, this will take us further along the way. We will share with you your passage through the various stages as your body progresses along the path to becoming fit and slim and towards wellness and well-being. As dieting is also an essential element, we are inviting you to begin to eat healthy diets. You will soon be getting more tips here more tips for fitness and on fashioning a healthy lifestyle. My next article will develop the subject further and attempt to answer pertinent questions on running to be and keep fit, slim and healthy in which proper dieting plays an essential part and about which some dieting tips are provided.

3) KEEPING FIT AND SLIM: Some Running Tips For Beginners to achieve Fitness and Health

Be cautious. If you are overweight and out of shape, start slowly. If you overdo it, you will get sore. Ease up then. Start with about 35- 40 minutes of walking about four times weekly. When you manage this comfortably, do some jogging extra.

Be moderate. Mix up your “hard” running with plenty of slow running and take time-off to allow for recuperation as running can be very stressful on your body. Beginners as well as the more advanced runners, find this routine to prove very satisfactory in quickly “getting up to speed”, especially as it reduces the chances of injury.

Increase your running time gradually. If you wish to shed a lot of pounds and get fit and slim (burn up fat!), increase your time. Take a measured approach, however, and do this moderate. You will find that increasing your routine time by about ten percent each week, you will reach a state where you are no more tired at this time than when you were previously running half the time.

Do preliminary warm-ups. Groom your muscles for your planned run by jogging easily and slowly for about 10 minutes before stating on the “hard’ run. In cold climates, or if you feel “stiff”, walk first (about 10 minutes) before starting to jog.

Cool down when you’re through. Finish a “hard” run with at least a 10 minutes jogging.

Try to run on soft surfaces. This will minimize shock to your joints as when you run,, your feet hit the ground with a tremendous amount of force. Grass or dirt is best and cement and concrete should be avoided.

Hydrate frequently. When you run, especially in hot conditions, your body loses a large amount of fluids. These need to be replaced or you will find yourself exhibiting the symptoms of dehydration: thirst, headaches, dizziness, and even vomiting. Drink before you run (about 16 fluid ounces, 1-2 hours before), and on the road, about 10 fluid ounces. As an important part of your fitness program,you dare not ignore it with impunity.

Choose a clean atmosphere. When running, you breathe hard and deeply. A polluted atmosphere, is hard on your lungs, and in many instances , cannot be avoided. Try to minimize this. If you live in a city, for example, choose a time when the traffic is at the lowest level.

Alter your running course. It can get very boring running over the same course every day. Try running the opposite way sometimes, or choose a different pathway. Your motivation to run for fitness and health must not diminish!

Although not developed here (this will be done at a later time), the importance of proper dieting and eating the proper foods for your body to regain its energy, cannot be emphasized enough – a requirement to which, sometimes, experienced runners do not pay enough attention – as  fitness and health will suffer!

a) SOME FITNESS TIPS FOR RUNNERS-Best Practices for getting Slim and Fit

Introduction.

Running has long been, and is widely accepted, as providing an excellent all around method

Fit And Slim

of exercise in pursuit of  fitness and health. For many, it has been the elixir or talisman for weight loss and getting fit and slim “the easy and relatively inexpensive natural way”, and hence, running has thus attracted a huge following of dedicated runners. Here for purposes of running, we include the treadmill as it is a special piece of equipment which allows running inside as opposed to outside and is a very worthwhile investment for those who wish to pursue the full benefits which it offers.

Although, at some periods in time, it has been thought that there could be a “tablet” of unchanging rules by which running could be systematically and universally conducted, rapid technological developments, e.g. in biomechanics, the introduction of varying types of running, the subtle but fundamental changes which have been occurring in the overall physiology of the human race, etc. have prevented any such systemization of running as a fitness activity.

Consequently, there is not a “one size fit all” position. Despite this, there are some practices, which, in one form or the other have either developed or survived over the years and which most, involved in this form of exercise, will hold to be some best practices to achieve fitness and health and to lose those many excess pounds. It is some of these which will be noted here and which, we hope,  will be helpful to both beginners and seasoned runners alike.

Best Running Practices for fitness and health

Walk first. It is almost the mandatory rule for running that you walk first. It might seem incongruous to set yourself up for running by walking! But remember, this walking you are doing is for fitness and health, and it is quite different than the walking you do in daily life. This kind of walking will get your pulse rate up, while, in walking in daily life, you are not setting up yourself to achieve this. In fact,in most cases,the contrary effect is what you wish for.  If you are just starting to run, see it as “crawling before walking”.

As a running(?) routine to achieve fitness and health, at first, walk briskly for 30 minutes at a time and then gradually increase this (but not to the point where you become exhausted!). This is to prepare your body for the increased stress of actual running. Your tendons will have strengthened and your muscles will be more flexible. After 4-6 weeks of this initial brisk walking, you will be in a much better position to actually start your running. Then go running  for your fitness and health -  get slim and fit!

Speed up gradually to running. Slowly speed up your brisk walking to running. You can do this, say, by walking for a minute and then running for a minute, gradually working your way up. At the start, you probably won’t be able to run for a full minute, so reduce it to, say, 30 seconds, or whatever you are comfortable with. Remember, to get even on the lower platforms of fitness and health, is a slow -and sometimes painful! -  process. What you want, is to reduce the incidence and experience of the latter (pain) ,to the barest minimum. When you stop gasping for air, repeat the process. This way you also reduce the risk of injuries to your muscles and tendons.

Do some “warming up” exercises. If you are going to take a “hard run”, your muscles need to prepare for this. It is a good idea to first do some warm-up “stretching” exercises. Groom your muscles for your planned fitness and health (non-competetive!) run, by jogging easily and slowly for about 10 minutes before stating on the “hard’ run. In cold climates, or if you feel “stiff”, walk first (about 10 minutes) before starting to jog.

Be moderate. Mix up your “hard” running with plenty of slow running and take time off to allow for recuperation as running can be very stressful on your body. Your desired level of health and fitness will come soon enough! No need to impede the progress by injuring yourself from over enthusiasm and over exuberance.

Be cautious. Fitness and health and getting slim and fit, especially starting with the body that is unfit and overweight, do not come easily and quickly, and you can pay a dear price! If you are out of shape, start slowly. If you overdo it, you will get sore. Ease up then. Start with about 35- 40 minutes of walking about four times weekly. When you manage this comfortably, do some jogging extra.

Increase your running time. If you have to shed a lot of pounds to get fit and slim (burn up fat!), or you just want to raise your fitness level,  increase your time. Take a measured approach, however, and do this moderately. You will find that increasing your routine time by about ten percent each week; you will reach a state where you are no more tired at this time than when you were previously running half the time.

Mix up running with walking. Beginners as well as experienced runners alike, often alternate 5 minutes of running, with 5 minutes of walking. This allows a recovery time and you will be able to run for a longer period and be more comfortable. In your desire for fitness and health, mixing up running with walking loses little and gains much.

Vary the pace at which you run. Combine easy jogging pace with “hard” runs. An easy jogging break every 10 minutes is about standard. This will surely take you to the level of fitness and health you desire

Try to run on soft surfaces. This will minimize shock to your joints as, when you run, your feet hit the ground with a tremendous amount of force. Grass or dirt is best and cement and concrete should be avoided.

Hydrate frequently. When you run, especially in hot conditions, your body loses a large amount of fluids. These need to be replaced or you will find yourself exhibiting the symptoms of dehydration: thirst, headaches, dizziness, and even vomiting. Drink before you run (about 16 fluid ounces, 1-2 hours before), and on the road, about 10 fluid ounces.

Choose a clean atmosphere. When running, you breathe hard and deeply. A polluted atmosphere, is hard on your lungs, and in many instances, cannot be avoided. Try to minimize this as it will have negative implications for your state of fitness and health. If you live in a city, for example, choose a time when the traffic is at the lowest level.

Alter your running course. It can get very boring running over the same course every day. Try running the opposite way sometimes, or choose a different pathway. Your motivation needs to be kept up, even though you might continue to have and be be motivated by  “academic” reasons for running.

Set Yourself Targets. Set yourself realistic and achievable targets. If you  are running to lose weight for example, you cannot get fit and slim overnight, so your goals of shedding pounds will have to reflect a realistic loss of pounds each week. Achieving your goals not only allows you to monitor and verify your improvement, but the realization of these goals serve as motivation and inspire you to continue to set higher and higher goals till you reach your zenith! Health and physical fitness have incalculable rewards!

Drink More Water. The body needs water – plenty of it! – to keep fitness and health. Hence water becomes an important part of your diet. You should be drinking at least 8-10 glasses each day, and more when you are exercising. Avoid carbonated drinks as they contain a great deal of sugar. If you experience thirst, headaches, dizziness, and even vomiting (the various stages of dehydration), then you are definitely not drinking enough water – and your fitness and health will suffer

Eat well balanced meals. Proper diet is essential in you are to be healthy, fit and slim. Ensure that your diet contains greens (vegetables and fruits), essential fatty acids, a balanced intake of carbohydrates and proteins as well as fibers (cereals), non-fat milk or soy milk, etc. Supplements are not substitutes, and, a steady and excessive intake of these, could put your health and fitness at risk! Limiting your cholesterol intake provides you with that needed boost to perform.

Hill running. If you are luck enough to live in an area where there are hills, this is good fortune! Running up hills is one of the most effective ways to build up both your strength and stamina, and, should be incorporated where possible in your routine. Some claim it to be one of the best ways to get fit and slim in a hurry! The best way is to begin at the base of the hill and run as fast as possible to the top, and, when you descend, either jog or walk down to recuperate. This can be done repetitively with appropriate “warming up” and “cooling down” and to some, serves as a proxy for progress up the hill of fitness and health.

Get sufficient rest. Resting is an essential part of the running process. “Hard’ runners especially need lots of it in order to repair the damage suffered by their tissues, ligaments and harried hearts. Without proper sleep, these will eventually shut down! Resting before the next running stanza, serves to build up your stamina before that time comes.

Running Frequency. This is not fixed but is highly dependent on your own conditions and what your aims are and at what level you want to maintain your level of fitness and health. If you are running for fitness and conditioning, that is one thing; if you are running for endurance or performance, that is another; if you are a speed runner, that is another thing; running competitively, is another thing; running to lose weight and become fit and slim is another; and so on.

For ordinary purposes, you might find running three or four times a week, quite adequate. This ensures that you get enough rest and avoid that level of exhaustion we call “burn out”. Also running more often than that could lead to embryonic disabilities.

Cool down when you’re through. Finish a “hard” run with at least a 10 minutes jogging

Conclusion

After all that has been said about running, you might reasonably ask as to when the beneficial effects of running will start to take hold of you, emerge and be identified as such. The short answer is that it does not happen overnight, or with the thump of a six day creation. However, if the above tips are applied, running will lead you up a road at the end of which you life is seen as drastically altered – you will be fit and slim enough to get into those slim fits clothes! – for very much the better.

Essentially, all these tips are not too difficult to put into practice. Although by running you raise and maintain your level of fitness and health,r, running by itself cannot make you healthy. You have to bring to it, some level of individual discipline. You have to bring to it a supportive lifestyle that enables this pursuit to be maximized. You also will need to adopt healthy heating habits and eat the proper foods. Then you will reap some rich benefits, including a long life span of quality and wellbeing.

Follow these best practices in running and you will get into shape, achieve fitness and health – and become fit and slim! – and enjoy a much longer life of quality!

FITNESS RUNNING TO KEEP FIT AND SLIM AND HAVE A HEALTHY LIFE.

If you are a beginner, try these!

a) SOME BEST PRACTICES OF RUNNING FOR FITNESS FOR BEGINNERS.

As a beginner, having taken the important decision to run for fitness and health, the first thing you must avoid, is overdoing it! Yes, you will want to know if you are progressing, if your fitness level is indeed rising, and, if so, how fast. So you have to set some goals or targets over time. But be very careful here or you might just be taking on too much and instead of progress, instead of becoming fit and healthy, there are problems – you are actually degrading your fitness and health!

So your goals will have to be realistic and achievable. They must be set for your own standards, for the level of fitness and health you want to achieve, not for anybody else’s!

Remember why you are in it in the first place – it is for your benefit – You are running in order to at first achieve a desired level of fitness and health, to maintain being fit and healthy, to develop and maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle and to experience that feeling of wellbeing! You are therefore not in a race with anyone else. The only competition is with yourself, and therefore give yourself a chance to succeed, rather than to win. If you must win, let the winning be against yourself rather than against anyone else! -get to your cherished condition of fitness and health.

Your goals should be both short term and long term. Your goals for the long term – to be evidenced by a high level of fitness and health – might now be expansive and even have a level of wishful anticipation- but that is in the long term-and reality then will dictate what CAN happen at that time, and the changes that have to and can be made to accommodate this!

However, for the short term, reality is here and then is not far away. For the here, you must be able to achieve the goals you set in order to achieve fitness and health. This is absolutely necessary for your body as well as for your peace of mind. If you are a beginner therefore, almost by definition, these goals have to be in the realm of reality, and must relate to where you can be then (shortly) with respect to where you are (now).

Write down these goals and carry out checks against them with respect to what you actually accomplish. .Keeping a record of your runs will allow you to analyze how you have improved over the time period of training – how near you are to fitness and health – and you will find it gives you pleasure as you see your improvements – you are becoming fit and healthy – slim and fit for some! If you set yourself realistic goals in the short term and the long term, it will help you keep motivated and will lead to success in your quest for fitness and health.

The secret is to build up slowly. If you set yourself goals that are VERY far fetched, and if, as a result, you need to increase your energy level and range too rapidly, you will find yourself on a very fast road to serious physical damage and injury! You might even find yourself discouraged and your resolve wavering.

For a beginner, you might consider an easy 2 to 2.5 miles jog, 3 or 4 times per week. For long term goals, as a more advanced runner, you might set a goal at four months time where you would like, say, to be in a half marathon event. You would not worry about the time for the event. Your success is in just completing the event – something you could never have contemplated before you launched yourself into achieving fitness and health!

You can use your running also as a stress reducing means. Stress results in several health problems including high blood pressure, heart diseases, strokes, impotence, depression, lethargy, stomach ulcers and indigestion- and the list goes on! See your running time therefore as a de-stressing drill. By doing this you are less likely to suffer heart related problems in your more advanced years, your fitness and health guaranteeing a life of better quality in your later years.

You will also feel much more energetic and you will be improving the capabilities of your body to recover from common sicknesses and diseases – and you will be much more productive at the work place!

Instead of just running and more running, day after day, from week to week, do some alternative exercises. Replace one or two runs a week by alternative exercises. This is known as cross training, and can include, e.g. cycling, swimming, mountain hiking, dancing, even the odd dumb bell training, etc.! This reduces boredom, allows you to develop new skills and interests, and leads to better overall body and mental conditioning! Furthermore it reduces the chance of injury and gives those muscles which you utilize in running, some necessary recovery time! It will also maintain your motivation!

Although the matter of proper dieting has not been mentioned here, it plays an essential part in your running to achieve fitness and health, and will later be extensively elaborated on.

b) SOME FITNESS RUNNING TIPS FOR THOSE IN A GREAT HURRY!

You cannot ignore these, no matter how much of a hurry you are in! -and, although much of this has been mentioned earlier  – you are in too much of a hurry to go there! – so here goes!

Be moderate. Mix up your “hard” running with plenty of slow running and take time off to allow for recuperation as running can be very stressful on your body.

Be cautious. If you are out of shape, start slowly. If you overdo it, you will get sore. Ease up then. Start with about 35- 40 minutes of walking about four times weekly. When you manage this comfortably, do some jogging extra.

Mix up running with walking. Beginners as well as experienced runners alike, often alternate 5 minutes of running, with 5 minutes of walking. This allows a recovery time and you will be able to run for a longer period and be more comfortable. Mixing up running with walking, loses little and gains much.

Increase your running time. If you wish to shed a lot of pounds (burn up fat!) and to become slim and fit, increase your time. Take a measured approach, however, and do this moderately. You will find that increasing your routine time by about ten percent each week, you will reach a state where you are no more tired at this time than when you were previously running half the time – evidence of your increasing fitness!

Do preliminary warm-ups. Groom your muscles for your planned run by jogging easily and slowly for about 10 minutes before stating on the “hard’ run. In cold climates, or if you feel “stiff”, walk first (about 10 minutes) before starting to jog.

Try to run on soft surfaces. This will minimize shock to your joints as when you run,, your feet hit the ground with a tremendous amount of force. Grass or dirt is best and cement and concrete should be avoided.

Hydrate frequently. When you run, especially in hot conditions, your body loses a large amount of fluids. These need to be replaced or you will find yourself exhibiting the symptoms of dehydration: thirst, headaches, dizziness, and even vomiting. Drink before you run (about 16 fluid ounces, 1-2 hours before), and on the road, about 10 fluid ounces.

Alter your running course. It can get very boring running over the same course every day. Try running the opposite way sometimes, or choose a different pathway.

Cool down when you’re through. Finish a “hard” run with at least a 10 minutes jogging

All these running “activities” to be effective, have to be supported by proper dieting as your body needs to recover, which it does by food intake. The kinds of food you eat therefore, are important and hence, the overall dieting process. This however will form the subject of discussion elsewhere.

If you wish a more comprehensive view, this link will take you to the Best Practice Tips

Follow these best practices in running and you will get into shape, become fit and healthy and enjoy a much longer life of quality!

4) FUNDAMENTAL PILLARS OF RUNNING FOR FITNESS AND HEALTH

Introduction

Now, we will look more closely at the fundamentals on which running for fitness and health are built, rather than at the practice, procedures or methods of running itself. Additionally, running has its own “philosophy”, which will be briefly discussed. However, this discussion will be more intended for the advanced runner (who will have more of a “feeling” for this dimension of running), rather than for the new or potential runner.

If as a new runner you do not wish to “wade” through this “conceptual” phase and you want to get on to something more “substantial”-running for fitness and health- you may skip the next section and go directly to the section titled: “Categories of Runners”. You can return to this later when you have a greater knowledge of running – and of yourself -which comes to those who run for fitness and health!

NB. In order not to “overload” and induce a high level of mental stupor in my readers, this will be published in three (3) parts.

PART 1

Running and the Quintessential Wellbeing Centre

Many who run for fitness and health and who experience a feeling of “wellbeing”, perceive this to be a quintessential state of “being”- an attainment of the wellbeing centre. This state is achieved by gradual transition through four states of “being”, usually described as the physical, the mental, the psychological, and, the spiritual with the “physical” the lowest level of “being”. Each level contains a special “self”, recognizable as characteristic of that level. Some degree of “wellbeing” is experienced in each state until the highest level is achieved. The degree to which this is experienced at any level, is determined by the extent to which a person has been able to achieve dominance over the “self” at that state. The capacity to move smoothly through and experience each state, is a condition that is presented to those who run for fitness and health.

There are many conditions described variously as social wellbeing, physical wellbeing or wellbeing fitness, mental wellbeing, etc., but they all fall within the overall mantle of the wellbeing centre.

The “conquest” of “self” is seen to have taken place when a person is described as “self disciplined”. This achievement is widely recognized (and usually commended!) at the “physical” level. It is less recognized (recognizable?) at the higher levels, but it is an equally achievable endeavor or pursuit at these levels also, and, runners are able to develop or progress toward the next higher level, to the extent that they are able to “conquer” the “self” at the various lower stages. Runners for fitness and health, feel various degrees of euphoria and freedom, as their fitness levels and state of health increase in their progress towards their centre of wellbeing.

While victory over fellow humans is very relatively simple – one simply has to get a bigger gun than that which is being used by those whom you must overcome! – victory over self requires, for the runner, use of an intangible. You have to somehow develop the “discipline” which will allow you to achieve victory over the “self” and thus achieve the state of “self discipline”. Fortunately, this process seems to become easier (some might disagree!) as you move to higher levels – the greatest battle for “self discipline” is usually fought at the physical level! For runners, this is at the beginning stages of physical fitness.

Why as runners do we strive to achieve these victories over self? Because at the highest level of victory over self, we achieve the highest level of fitness and health and of wellbeing! But why is this pursuit of the wellbeing centre worthwhile? Because the “self” traps us into a “unity”, while overcoming “self”, allows us the possibility of the greatest level of “being” – that of a fully developed, healthy and matured PLURALITY of “selves”. This brings us to ONENESS with the universe, which contains the plurality of all things! As runners, being (?) at one with the universe, you achieve true “spiritual consciousness” and experience the highest and purest form of wellbeing.

You are probably asking by now what does this (philosophy?) have to do with running for fitness and health? You have already looked several times at the heading of the page to reassure yourself that you are at the right website – one about running and becoming fit and healthy in the process – slim and fit. But hey! – wait a minute – and you will soon see – and be very surprised at the company running keeps! – on the road to quintessential wellbeing.

As incongruous as any such connection may at first appear to be, running to become fit and healthy can provide a platform for the first awakening of each state of being! Running for fitness and good health, provides the perfect stimulant and an opportunity toward achieving the ultimate wellbeing of a person, as it embodies and brings into play, all four fundamental “elements” or “worlds” of “being” described above (the physical, the mental, the psychological and the spiritual). This can be accentuated by supportive exercises such as are found here.

Ask anyone who runs for fitness and health (and therefore their have a high level of consciousness!), to describe that feeling of elation and wellbeing that is often experienced in the process, and, described lightly by many as one of “liberation”, but which, in a sense, is fundamentally correct! This will give you an idea and a small glimpse of the “promised land”! If you look at the faces of those who are “seasoned” runners, you will often see an expression that borders on some kind of inner ecstasy- indicative of that movement through the physical, the mental, the psychological and the spiritual worlds of “wellbeing”. Their movements – and their feelings as well! – are light, free-flowing – almost floating and surreal! – their running for fitness and health taking them inexorably towards that “promised land”.

Do not worry however if at this time you neither grasp nor comprehend any of this. The necessary awakening will occur as you progress in your running. This is at the top of the ladder, and we are for now, and for the most part, only on the bottom rung. So let’s get back to running – but knowing that as we become fit and healthy, we CAN look forward to that special level of health and feeling of wellbeing – and for those who seek a less esoteric goal – becoming fit and slim!

Categories of Runners

Runners can roughly be divided into five categories:

1) Occasional

Firstly, there is the occasional runner. This kind has no real purpose or push (they hardly ever go beyond a gentle jog!), but is out there running because there is a vague feeling that running is somehow “doing the right thing” – without ever defining what that “right thing” is! Such a one will never progress to any level of real fitness and health and experience the “pure” joy of wellbeing! The ‘promised land” of those who truly run to achieve fitness and health at some level, is not even a dream as they have no consciousness of this “Eden” to which the exercise of running for fitness and health can take them.

2) Casual

Secondly, there is the casual runner. Such a person has a vague desire to be reach some level of fitness and health, but lacks the real motivation and dedication to put in the effort to achieve this, but nevertheless has enough fortitude to engage frequently in some of the “required” running activities. The motivation does not come from self, but mostly from the fact that “others” are doing it. The next step is “pain” again, so that person stands really far outside the gate, never thinking of making a close approach. With hands far from the lock, they will never open it and pass through the portal to the real running ground!

3) Intermediate

The third category is the intermediate runner. Such a person has limited goals, immediate or very short term, visibly and tangibly so (e.g. “I want to lose 10 lbs”!), does not want to challenge himself or herself, and thus, in effect, the first sets of early goals, having been achieved, also remain as present and future goals, and again guide future running when it becomes necessary,for example, an undesirable weight gain! Fitness and health is a desirable goal,but only in the context of early manifest benefits-getting into a desired pair of jeans, for example  Such a person is more content to talk to all who will listen, about his or her achievements and exploits at running, rather than further develop and hone running skills and challenge himself or herself. This kind of person much prefers to be seen by others to be out running, rather than to achieve for and within himself or herself, the true satisfaction which does come with going to the next level. These sit, rather, on their “empty” laurels. They only look over the fence at the “promised land”!

4) Run Warrior

The fourth category is that of the run warrior. These persons have the motivation, the desire, the will power, the vision, and, above all, the psychic and spiritual fortitude, not only to unhesitatingly push the gate side open, but to make great forays into the fields beyond! They want to maximize the benefits from running for fitness and health as a form of exercise and to achieve the highest level they can in keeping fit and healthy. The have  “solid” and uncompromising “running routines” for fitness and health, unwaveringly aspiring to an achieving each sought after  rung as they climb up on the ladder of fitness levels. They hold their running above all else. It is their food for life and they never waver nor pause in their tracks. Not to be running is a capital charge, and to miss a usual daily “workout”, is nothing short of a serious misdemeanor, resulting in all sorts of guilt feelings. Such a person never finds an excuse (e.g., bad weather!) not to go out running on any morning, but instead, finds every reason to do so! These “know” of the “promised land” and make occasional visits there. They hope their “routines” and continuous efforts of running for fitness and health will give them a “permanent” landing there!

5) Competitor

The fifth category is that of a competitor – in more ways than one (no pun intended!), the true champion of running! These persons run because in the end they want to compete with others. I call them the Olympians. They want to be all they can be! They challenge themselves (and others!) to get to their limit and the only measuring stick as to what this limit is, becomes the achievements of others in running – an hence the world records, and the fastest times, and the personal best, and so on. These are “at the top of their game” – running! Their highest levels of fitness and health have been achieved, and as such, “the promised land” is theirs! They stand at the top of the ladder – and they can be “marathoners”!

The Four Pillars of Running for Fitness and Health

Regardless of the category to which a runner belongs, there are four corner stones or pillars, which, to varying degrees (sometimes zero!), form elements of these categories. These are:

• Motivation

• Outfitting

• Goal Setting

• Proper Dieting and sufficient Rest

Within each of these, there are various levels of difficulty, arduousness and complexity, and the type of runner (occasional, casual, intermediate, run warrior or Olympian) you become, is determined by the mixture of levels you achieve in this framework.

To successfully embark on running as a form of exercise to achieve various levels of fitness and health and to remain fit and healthy, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing, requires a judicious balance of these four. To be a runner, you will have to engage yourself in them. Each requires the application of different rules and modus operandi, and each has its special challenges, quirks and foibles.

.The four “pillars” of running have as components, various levels of each of the fundamental elements of “being”. Obviously, the occasional runner is at the lower levels of all four pillars, while the Olympian is at the higher levels of all four. Each of these in turn will now be further developed.

If you are just beginning, you can find some very useful tips on the process here

PART 2

a) Motivation

You will be running for fitness and health, but running itself is a motivator, both internally and externally, i.e. you come up with the desire on your own and it only matters to you personally (internal), or, you find the reason outside yourself and you do not have to tell yourself to go running(external). Why do I run? Literally and figuratively, you run for your lives – your physical, psychological, mental and spiritual lives! – you run to achieve the levels of fitness and health, where for you at that level, your physical, psychological,  mental and spiritual selves are maximized! Runners who build on the fundamental pillars, more easily advance through “obstacles” on the way. To varying degrees, depending on their levels of fitness and health, they get a feeling of an “inner high”, a feeling of satisfaction and one of feeling “great”. Your fitness and health level, determines both the quantity and quality of your feeling of “wellbeing”.

Running for fitness and health, puts you in a better positive mind-set and as you become a more advanced runner (reaching into higher levels of fitness and health), your life gets transformed from a possibly unhealthy one to a very healthy one, i.e., you become more fit and healthy. It improves your self esteem, thus improving you psychologically, and leaves you more motivated for the rest of the day. Running is a stress reducing means and therefore, your running for fitness and health times, become a de-stressing practice.

Much motivation about running comes to many because they want to lose weight. Losing weight, especially if you are significantly overweight, is important to maintaining your health -as well as your fitness!- and in sustaining your sense of comfort and confidence in social settings. The “exercise” which running provides, is one means of doing this. What is significant however, is that, after the desired weight loss is achieved, there is often no thought of stopping or reducing the effort to run. In fact, in many cases, running activities increase – and so begins the “external” motivation  to maintain your fitness and health running! Running for fitness and health is self motivating – the more you run, the more you desire to run!

Not only are the physical effects actually discernible (e.g.,weight loss!), but probably your own experience, and, certainly from what you hear about the “fitness and health benefits” of running, the motivation continues for you to do so. Those benefits to your general health abound and who would want to miss out on a “fit”, healthy, longer life, with a continuous feeling of “wellbeing”? As you continue to run, you are going to achieve higher and higher levels of “fitness” and “health”, and you are going to have the ability  to:

• Manage your weight.

• Maintain and improve your health;

• Reduce risks of diseases such strokes, breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension;

• Promote the Human Growth Hormone and keep you looking young.

• Prevent muscle and bone loss.

As your fitness level increases, you will also feel much more energetic and you will be improving the capabilities of your body to both “fight off” and recover from common sicknesses and diseases. Your productivity level at the “workplace” will increase,as you will be more “energetic” about your tasks and the frequency of your absence from work, will fall dramatically!

Yes – your running for fitness and health will improve your energy levels, your mental and psychic selves and your overall motivation  for your life itself!

Some very useful tips on exercise and motivation are available here.

b) Outfitting

Some might wonder where does “outfitting” enter the scheme of things when you run to achieve health and fitness! However, proper outfitting to a large extent, determines much of your longevity in running. It ordains whether or not running (motivated by an imperative of fitness and health), does effectively lead to your enjoying a fit and healthy lifestyle. It requires the outmost attention to detail, the most important factors being comfort and suitability. There are two elements in this, namely, the clothes you wear, and the shoes in which you run (the fact that some people are strong proponents of barefoot running will be ignored here!).

For the first, this will be largely a matter of common sense being applied on a “conditional” level. If you are going to run under temperate and humid conditions where you will really be impacted by the heat and probably will be perspiring a lot, then obviously, for the “comfort” factor, you will go for relatively light clothing with minimum covering of the body, i.e. shorts and T-Shirts. If however, running is going to be performed under somewhat less than temperate conditions, i.e. cold/wintery conditions, then the usual heavy sweat suit like attire, will be more practical for your comfort level.

While you can afford to be a bit casual or even “stylish” (sport brand names!) about your running apparel, the same cannot be your attitude towards your footwear, that is, your running shoes. It is on the “rock” of running shoes that people wear, that many of their good intentions and strong desire to take up running as their preferred method of exercise, founders and literally comes to painful grief.

In your running for fitness and health “routines”, your running shoes can contribute or mould you to a running style that is not sustainable, and more often than not, lead to disastrous results. In fact, many people have given up on their running for fitness and health regimen, because of how hard it seems to have become – some, even without exaggeration, having to get fitted with artificial limbs, that is, knees and hips – and all because of the wrong selection made in their running shoes! The pair of shoes you wear, it can be said, is one of the single greatest determinants of your achievement of health and fitness through running, since,to achieve this,you must continue with your “runs”!

The primary reason why shoes make running difficult, is due to the fact that, normally, with every step, the heel strikes the ground first with a force equal to 3 – 4 times your body weight, and this certainly severely “jars” your knees and hip joints! These can become very “sore” over time and make running painfully difficult, if not impossible. The running shoes that you therefore wear, should serve the purpose of absorbing and ameliorating some of this, cushioning each step and allowing the natural shock-absorbing action of muscles and joints to work better.

For the purpose of determining which shoes are best suited for your running for fitness and health routines,  factors such as whether you are flat-footed, high arched or in-between, become extremely important. The type of shoes you will need, will also be determined by the kind of surface on which you will be running, and thus, knowing where you will be running, is essential in determining the shoes you choose, as different terrains require different kinds of shoes. Those used in cross country running for example, are heavy and bulky, while ordinary track shoes will not last long on a harsh rugged terrain.

Running beginners in their pursuit of running for fitness and health, need more protection than the more advanced runners as these latter have developed stronger muscles and therefore need less rubber interspersed between their feet and the running surface. There will also be a trade-off between durability and softness, the former kind being less comfortable than the latter. Budget will also be a factor, but whatever the overall position, ultimately the choice will have to be made by you. You therefore have to be very careful about the choice you make with respect to shoes.

You should if possible, go to a proper sports shop (do not buy online if it is your first pair!) with knowledgeable staff who can advise you on Men's running shoeswhat you need, and buy a good pair of running shoes. A popular choice seems to be the New Balance Running Shoes. Don’t try to run in anything else but a good pair, and don’t skimp on the investment. This is an important investment which you will not regret, but which can lead to your downfall if not made on the right pair. New Balance running shoes are touted by many, but for whatever the reason you have purchased any particular brand, if your running shoes are not comfortable, CHANGE THEM – or they will change your running intentions in ways which adversely affect you and your commitment to running!

Yes – running for fitness and health, does have its special couture!

c) Goal Setting

As a beginner to running for fitness and health, the first thing you must avoid is overdoing it! Yes, you will want to know if you are progressing, and if so, how fast. So you have to set some goals or targets over time. But be very careful here or you might just be taking on too much, and, instead of progress, there are setbacks and problems – and you end up by actually harming yourself – running becomes baneful instead of beneficial!

To measure your “progress”, you are going to have to collect “data” of some kind, on both your “fitness” and your “health”. For your fitness, such “data” might consist of :

(1) Your “run”, that is, the distance you have traversed;

(2) Your “pace”, determined by the time you took to go the distance of your “run”;

(3) Your “endurance”, that is, how well you can “physically” manage (that is, cope with) maintain your activity combination of distance and pace; and,

(4) the “intensity” with which you can can perform the various elements of your routine.

For your “health”, the data are less quantifiable. You can very roughly (and perhaps non-medically? medically?), define some measurement of your “health” as being related to your “medical” condition,that is, proneness to and ability to recover from, sicknesses and diseases, the condition of your vital organs, etc. (we all know the signs of our level of health).

Your goals therefore, will have to be realistic and be set within the context of these “data points”. They must be set for your own standards, not for anybody else’s! Remember why you are in it in the first place – it is for your benefit – You are running in order to keep fit and healthy, to develop and maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle and to experience that feeling of wellbeing! You are therefore not in a race with anyone else. The only competition really, is with yourself, and therefore you must give yourself a chance to feel that you are “winning”. You do this by setting goals in running, that you can achieve!

Your goals should be both short term and long term. Your long term goals for now can have an element of wishful thinking or “fancy” almost, because you can later change them without risking too much damage to your psyche if you do not achieve them then. We know that with long term planning, we cannot control many factors and we are therefore prepared to accommodate changes to our plans accordingly.

For the short term however, you will discover in your running, that accommodation – especially at the psychological level! – to non-achievement of target, is a lot more difficult! If you do not achieve what at first you set out to do, you have to adjust to doing less – and this might seem that you are retrogressing in your running, rather than moving forward! This can have a profound negative effect on your self confidence, your belief in yourself as well on your overall psyche!

For the short term therefore, your goals cannot be fanciful! They must be set at levels that you can achieve, and, for health and fitness to be attained eventually, you have to wait for this to happen. This is absolutely necessary for your body as well as for your self confidence and peace of mind. If you are a beginner therefore, almost by definition, these goals have to be in the context of your present physical condition, rather than your fancy, they have to be set for practice rather than caprice, as non-achievement of your first sets of goals, can prove to be very discouraging and de-motivating!

Setting yourself a target for example, of a mile in 7 minutes the first week and two miles in 13 minutes the next week – is an obviously unattainable target for you if you have not been doing physical exercises of any kind for the last several years. If you did try that for the first week, you would be lucky if you were able to move your legs the second week – provided that you made it that far! The chances are that in the second week, you would most likely be getting a lot of help – physically and probably medically! – intensity care conditions not excluded!

It is better therefore, to set yourself goals where you can have some “over-achievement”, rather than to “under-achieve”, ie., where you could have done better, rather than at which you have failed. In the first instance, you can easily “up the ante” for your target (and so gain a lot of confidence in yourself that you are actually at a better level than that of your goal!), while in the second case, you have to be reducing your targets (which you do not want to be doing – it is bad psychologically!) which then seems to be a kind of going backward, or at least, not progressing. Better to be picking up your mile posts and moving forward with them, rather than reversing that process!

If you set yourself realistic goals in the short term and long term, it will help you keep motivated and will lead to success in achieving great health and fitness. The secret is to build up slowly. If you set yourself goals that are VERY far fetched, and if, as a result, you need to increase your energy level and range too rapidly for your body to accommodate, you will find yourself on a very fast road to serious physical damage and injury!

Write down these goals (data points) and carry out checks against them with respect to what you actually accomplish. If you never achieve any of your targets, consider that you may be setting them too high, and they need to be reduced. This is not AN ADMISSION OF FAILURE, but the bringing of reality to your expectations  -which more often than not, are just wishful thinking! Keeping a record of your runs, will allow you to analyze how you have improved over the time period of training, and, you will find, it gives you pleasure as you see your improvements -yes, your fitness levels are increasing – and your health will benefit to boot!

For a beginner, you might consider an easy 2 to 2.5 miles jog, 3 or 4 times per week. For long term goals, as a more advanced runner, you might set a goal at 6 -8 months time where you would like, say, to be in a half marathon event. You would not worry about the time for the event. Your success is in just completing the event!

Vary your routine to maintain your fitness and health levels. Replace one or two runs a week by alternative exercises. This variation, known as cross training, can include, e.g. cycling, swimming, mountain hiking, dancing, even the odd dumb bell training, etc.! It reduces boredom, allows you to develop new skills and interests, and leads to better overall body and mental conditioning! Furthermore, it reduces the chance of injury and gives those muscles which you utilize in running, some necessary recovery time!

Yes – goal setting is as important in running as it is in every other endeavour, if you are to achieve your desire of reaching high levels of fitness and health!

To guide your actual running, this link will take you to the Best Practice Tips

PART 3

d) Proper Dieting and Sufficient Rest

When you engage in regular running as an exercise to achieve fitness and health, it is very important that you have the energy to run. In order for this to happen, your body has to be well-nourished and get the rest it needs, i.e. you must diet properly and rest appropriately. Eating the proper healthy dieting foods and getting sufficient rest, are therefore critical for your fitness and health. These must “backup” your running exercise routine.

You must have sufficient food intake, but your calorie consumption must also be controlled Proper dieting therefore does not merely mean that you eat less. To go on a diet does not mean skipping meals. In fact, if you eat too little, you can put your health at risk, as you might be depriving your body of essential nutrients it needs in your running routines for fitness and health. Instead, a proper diet regime allows you to eat regularly but only the foods permitted at moderate amounts. Nor should certain foods be excluded from your menu plan when you adhere to proper dieting rules. Healthy food choices, made and eaten at the right time, are the conditions suitable for health and fitness dieting. Dieting talk then, draws attention and gives primary importance to what you should eat to achieve fitness and health.

To keep fit and healthy, requires that you follow a healthy and balanced diet everyday and there are many healthy dieting recipes which are available to allow this to happen. An irregular dieting habit, high calorie intake, little or no exercise and dependence on “fast foods” (which are mostly processed foods), contribute significantly to overweight, a condition which induces many people to start running in the first place. These foods usually contain substantial amounts of fat and sugar, the main culprits in many cases of obesity and, perhaps worse, heart diseases and the risks of hypertension or heart attack. You will do well in your diet, if you avoid foods that enhance cholesterol and fat building in the body. You can achieve this by reducing the intake of foods rich in oils and fats, junk foods, spicy foods etc.

You should concentrate on the more “nutritious” foods, as the less nutritious foods lower your energy levels and thus your physical (and mental as well!) performance. These foods, mostly high in fat and calories, cause a build up of stored fat in your body, which eventually leads to clogging of the arteries. Instead, eating a diet of healthier, low fat foods which are high in nutrients, will reduce clogging of the arteries and will leave you much more energetic and be able to perform at higher fitness levels! These include foods with enough proteins, good cholesterol, vitamins and nutrients. You will do well in your diet if you choose whole foods and avoid processed carbohydrates and many of the recipes for dieting, ably provide for this

You should note that the number one food group for good nutrition is fruit and therefore in your health and fitness regimen, you should include them as much as possible. Start your day with this, breakfast  being a good launching point. In addition to fresh fruits, ensure that your everyday diet includes lots of vegetables, foods rich in proteins and fibers, freshly made fruit juices, milk, nutritious energy drinks etc. – your fitness and health depends on this.

Eating such foods as lean meats, nuts, and broccoli in your diet, will help provide the energy that your body needs and allow for the burning away of undesirable fats. As suggested by many people, you may also want to try drinking green tea for its similarly beneficial effects. Cut down where possible, or, avoid red meat, junk foods, caffeine, soft drinks or canned fruit juices and foods which contain high levels of fat, salt, and sugar.

It is a fact some people really have very busy lives and are unable to devote a great deal of time to a proper dieting regime and recipes for dieting. For these people, there are healthy dieting tips and healthy dieting snacks are available so that they are able to meet the requirements of their fitness and health targets.

Liquids, especially water, play significant parts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You should take as much liquid as possible, particularly if you live in a temperate climate and sweat a lot. Your body is composed of a very high percentage of water and it is essential for healthy living, that this balance be maintained. It is suggested that your liquid intake range between no less than 4-5 liters daily. It should be higher for temperate climates.

Yes – combine healthy dieting with your fitness and health running routines, and you will be well on your way to achieving true fitness and health.

Many runners – even among the advanced! -see rest as unnecessary. However, this is not so. An adequate amount of rest is essential for fitness and health, and, there are several reasons for this.

In the first place, your running is all about building up strength and endurance. Running builds up strength by building up muscles, and, endurance is increased (fitness attributes), by exercising your lungs (health attributes). Your muscle fibers get broken down when you run (exercise) and are restored when the stress (running) activity ceases. Your body then gets the chance (rest) to build more muscle and your lungs are given the chance (rest), to build up endurance. By giving them rest, they repair and build up. When they do so, they actually build up stronger and leaner than before your fitness level is increased!

Secondly, rest acts as an injury prevention mechanism. When you first begin to run, your body suffers great trauma. It is not prepared for the ordeal to which it is being put (it probably has been used to a soft and cozy life – or one of neglect!), or the harsh treatment which it is getting in the process of exercise. It is hard on your muscles and joints. As these can only take so many traumas, you must give them time to recover from each run. The amount of rest period needed will depend on the harshness of your running regimen. Taking a day or two of rest, will allow the muscles and joints to repair themselves for the next run (and a higher level of fitness!) becoming more agile and gaining strength in the process.

Yes  – the body you want to build up to high levels of fitness and heath, needs rest to do so. DO NOT DENY IT THIS OPPORTUNITY. If you do, it is at your own peril!

The overall equation for all of these is:

RUNNING + PROPER DIETING + REST = FITNESS + HEALTH

Summary – Running and a Tale of Four Pillars

Running for fitness and health, brings on a level of “life” beyond the mere physical, which, with dedication, the runner can attain and thus experience a feeling of joy and exhilaration that borders on the meta-physical, or more commonly put, the “philosophical”. You reach that wellbeing centre – social wellbeing, wellbeing fitness, mental wellbeing, etc. Looking at a runner who has reached this level, you immediately notice the free flow of body and limbs and the ease with which these blend into space and time. Indeed, to the runner, the body is one with space and time and reflects a unity of mind and body with all things – an attainment of the highest level of human wellbeing through fitness and health.

Among other benefits of running for fitness and health, you want to get fit and slim – the first related to fitness, and the second related to health- but, if you are not the athletic type and in good shape, to actually start running, requires a great deal of motivation. For some, this motivation is “ready made” – they are over-weight, if not already obese! – and running provides an easily available and very viable method of shedding those pounds. They want to be fit and slim – to be able to get into slim fit shirts or slim fit suits. Or they find simple, everyday physical tasks, becoming crushing challenges – out of breath, heaving chests and a heart beat of frightening rapidity (heart attacks not excludes!) – and so, let’s get fit and healthy – let’s raise our fitness and health levels!

Motivation to run for fitness and health is however required beyond this. It is needed in the early stages as well, since the going can be very tough – muscles are sore, tendons have been stretched, joints are painful, etc. Seeing some very early results of weight loss – you can wear slim fit suits! – sometimes provides the necessary motivation at this stage. And later on, there must be the motivation to keep fitness and performance at high levels – a motivation required by even advanced runners.

Running for fitness and health also requires special running gear – your clothes and your footwear. Although the choice of proper clothing can be relatively simple – it is a combination of applied rationality, comfort and personal style preference – the choice of proper running shoes can get very complicated. So important is this however (your shoes more often than not, determine your longevity as a runner!), that every effort, including time and money, must be made to ensure that you get this right, or all your motivation, effort and desire, can go for naught! The right shoes for the right kind of foot, the right shoes for the surface, the right shoes for the running terrain and conditions, etc, are key to all stages of running for your fitness and health- from the beginner to the advanced runner!

Make your running fitness and health regimen a routine and set your goals (running “statistics”) for achievement. Once you have assigned the correct level of priority, running becomes a habit, it is much easier to keep it going and the setting of targets and goals for achievement, which is critical, becomes a natural progression process. Apart from the necessary process of gradual development, setting targets and goals provides a source of motivation – for example, you set out first, to lose 5 lbs. in 3-4 weeks, and after 5 weeks your scale tells you that you have indeed done so – this pushes you on for the next 5 lbs., and so on, or, your “run” this week leaves you breathless and tired, while at the end of the same “run” (distance and time) the following week, you feel that you could have gone on some more!

Targets also allow you to gauge the development of your fitness and endurance levels, as actually running in and finishing a half marathon (no matter the clock!) in 6-8 months time, is something you could never have imagined yourself achieving 6-8 months ago! This does provide for you, a great deal of satisfaction that really makes you feel good about yourself your choice of running as an exercise for fitness and health has been justified!.

You want to become fit and slim, but especially if you are in poor physical shape and have never been running before, expect a great deal of physical discomfort in the beginning. Your joints will ache, the muscles of your thighs and upper legs will become stiff and very sore (are they really yours? – they ache so much!), tendons are stretched, etc., and you will begin to think that to ease all this pain and severe discomfort, you should therefore stop and sit down often, or, even stop the whole process completely. To do this however, would be a fatal error and would effectively torpedo all your efforts at running!

The answer to this lies in the opposite behaviour – rather than stop your running, you MUST KEEP GOING! Sure, if you do stop, the pain and soreness will ease and finally go away – but when you start again, the pain and soreness will also come back again!- and again – and again! You will only be able to get rid of the pain and soreness by WORKING through them at those times! Take comfort however in knowing, that all that pain and soreness will soon be replaced by a feeling of physical wellbeing! Taking some good massages after a run, can give some short term relief and help to ease some of this.

So you will have to keep going (hopefully your motivation and pain tolerance levels are up to the task!) and you will find that, gradually, the pain and soreness (effectively your running “birth pains”!) will go away, never again to return with such discomfort and distress (unless you have had to stop your running for an extended period! – and have to start again – another “delivery” process!), and you will experience a high level of physical ease and pain-free flexibility in your limbs and tendons.

As you increase the level of your activity, you will notice some degree of discomfort returning, but it will be nowhere near the initial discomfort and it will go away almost unnoticed. As you further increase your activity (running faster, increasing your distance, etc.), any such discomfort will hardly be noticed by you and you will have effectively broken through one of the heaviest barriers to running! – and yes, do not forget to do some “warm-up” (stretching) exercises before you begin, especially if you are in cold climates and undertaking a long run.

As you undertake longer runs in your health and fitness running routines, and go further and further away from your “base” (home), you will begin to have some doubts and insecurity about whether or not, you can make it back home. Do not worry – you can! The same form, effort and dedication which got you to that point in the first place, will take you back home. Note, it is your heightened and new fitness level that took you to that place, and you can be confident it won’t let you down in the return stage! – such will your fitness level have developed!

After this, you will begin to develop confidence and belief in yourself, and, the whole process of running, as well as the entire fabric of your life, will take on a different hue for you, and, your running performance will accelerate. You will begin to believe in yourself, and, your self confidence and self assurance will extend far beyond your running activities and capabilities, and extend as well into every other part of your life, into your emotional, mental and psychic selves – you will literally undergo a very profound transformation!

Although dieting and rest are essential elements in running for fitness and health, there are still many people who are unaware of the importance of  proper diet in “backing up” a good running program, in order to maintain a fit body and a healthy lifestyle. Apart from keeping a diary about your running program (targets and achievements, etc.), you should also keep a diary of your entire diet, including what types of food, how big are the portions and how many meals per day. All this should forma part of your healthy dieting regime and healthy dieting foods – essential elements in a fitness program.

It is vital to adopt foods that are rich in fiber and proteins. These foods should also include good cholesterol, vitamins and nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables top the list. Including such foods as lean meats, nuts, and broccoli in your diet, will help provide the energy that your body needs to burn away unwanted fats.

Eat less or none at all of fatty, carbohydrate-filled oily foods. Choose whole foods instead and concentrate more on green or semi-cooked vegetables and salads. Junk foods, fast foods, spicy foods, foods heavy with fat, salt, and sugar etc., should be avoided altogether.

If you are too busy to fit into rigid and controlled dieting routines which involve lengthy preparations of full meals, there are many healthy dieting snacks which can suffice.Dieting tips are readily available about these and if you observe their dicta, your fitness level will not be negatively impacted.

Hydration is essential. Water plays a great part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and therefore, you should take as much liquid as is possible. The average water or liquid intake should be no less than 4-5 liters per day or more, especially in temperate climates.

Sufficient rest – two to three days a week if you are an advanced runner – should be taken, as your muscles need time to restore themselves and become leaner and stronger – keeping you fit and healthy!

Remember – running for fitness and health, diet and rest, add up to a healthy lifestyle and a giant step towards your wellbeing centre – physical, mental and psychic harmony – and a mastery of self! Would’nt you R~U~N? Won’t YOU run?

For some very useful pointers about running, you can go to Best Practice Tips

5. WHY DO WE CHOOSE RUNNING AS A METHOD OF EXERCISE TO BECOME FIT AND HEALTHY?

40 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Running For Fitness And Health. – Part 1

Asking questions about running as an activity for fitness and health, is not new. What is new however, is the complexity of the questions being asked, which, unlike the relative simplicity of the past, taxes our ability to provide satisfactory answers. More often than not nowadays, the answers to questions do not yet form a part of our experience, and therefore require future research for answers. Modern questions about running are so complex and esoteric, that they seem almost to be solely related to individual experience and are accordingly, unique and requiring a “one on one” answer.

For that reason, (and many others!), not the least of which is the large number already posed, I have decided that, at least for the early stage of this initiative, to limit answers pertaining to running for fitness, health and wellbeing, to only those questions considered as being of a “fundamental” nature for runners. These will thus address mostly the concerns of new runners (beginners), as well as those who are now planning on joining the running community.

Many of the questions posed, will no doubt be of a “technical” nature, while others will be more “personal”. It is planned to keep a “balance” between these and not to become too “technical” in explanations. Some of the technical jargon is so complicated as to be beyond the energy and curiosity of many readers, and in many instances, require extensive studies of the English language, before one is able to spell the word, much less understand what it signifies! We do not intend to go that way.

This approach will no doubt cause some dismay as it will appear to be largely ignoring the undoubtedly strong existence of the so called “advanced” runners, who, supposedly by now and at this stage of their running, are mostly deemed to be already “familiar” with the answers to these questions. This group, to a large extent, might prefer to ignore, at this point, any writing by me (or any one else!), on running matters of this nature!

However, I urge them to avoid this “knee jerk” reaction and not to take this approach, as they might miss out on some new “twists” concealed in the body of writing which they consider to be “old hat”. Health and fitness is a goal for beginning runners as well as “veterans”, and these latter veterans like myself, should never deluded themselves into the fatal error of thinking that they (or anyone else for that matter!), know everything about running, even at what might be described as “elementary” stages.

Knowledge, at all levels of running for our health and fitness needs, changes and develops every day, and so we would be wise to continue to seek new knowledge at ALL levels at every opportunity offered – exploring questions asked by others being one such. Don’t many of us read our favorite novels more than once and don’t we usually learn something “new” from these novels with each reading, even though we already “know the plot”?

Asking questions is the best way to learn (that is, obtain new knowledge) about anything, and so, after a time (about 40 “fundamental” questions later!), I plan to start up a section devoted to this alone, and invite people to share their experience here, as often, reading about the experiences of others, answers my own questions, or give me insights into questions I would never have asked.

In addition, some of the material discussed in answering these questions, has been previously discussed at length elsewhere on this site. However, in many cases, the material is scattered about in bits and pieces here and there. This venture has the added benefit of bringing these disparate pieces together in one place. In any case, the material is often of a fundamental nature, requires emphasis and can stand the test of repetition.

Although there will be disagreement as to whether or not, the questions which are posed and dealt with here, are indeed universally ranked among those most frequently asked, (so many questions have been asked that we might never know the answer to this for sure!), here goes our first set of questions for this genre! In this, I welcome suggestions from my readers.

Q. I hate running, so why do I have to run?

A. The short and unequivocal answer is that if you hate running so much, then DON’T run!. Us runners do so because, very much unlike you, we DO love running – and we do so despite the many obstacles and discomforts which we initially face when we just start to run, and which could dampen our enthusiasm and detract from our physical capacity to actually do so.

Particularly in the first stages, running is full of pain and tedium, and quite literally, physically taxing, grueling and exhausting. So why do so many people apparently willingly undertake such an arduous activity? Masochistic behavior you might want to argue – but that would mean that a large proportion of the world’s population suffers from this malaise! No – the answer lies elsewhere!

We do run, as I earlier stated, because we really love running and we love running because of the very substantial benefits and efficacious effects that running brings to our lives overall. We feel – no, it is a lot more than just a feeling, it is a strong and unshakeable conviction! – that quite literally and figuratively, we are running for our very lives – lives which are not just for existing! – but lives which are brimful of vigor and vitality, lives which are mettlesome and are permeated with a high level of spirituality, lives which are abundantly enriched with health and wellbeing. “Life” for the runner is more than a clinical condition. It is not just about “existing” (i.e., undead), but it should have QUALITY as well. Combined with proper dieting, running is a great contributor to fitness and health, to that singular state which “wellness” pervades!

Many of us who start running, at first do so for reasons blatantly and manifestly related to health and fitness and the consequential lifestyle of wellbeing. We take up running as an exercise activity, because we want to “get in shape” (lose weight, become fit, etc.) and when combined with proper dieting regimes, it is an authentic (as opposed to diet pills, for example!) activity which allows us to realize our “fitness” goal and, additionally, is one which is readily available to most of us. We only need some comfortable running gear, some motivation, determination and later, perseverance, to run.

After an initial modest “engagement” of running (say 1 to 2 miles, three or four times per week), the feeling of exhilaration and vitality is so powerful, that we do not want to stop, even though we have achieved our original modest expectations, and so we continue and increase this “engagement (say 2 to 3 miles per day, 4 to 5 times per week) – until “down the line”, we find ourselves not having the least desire to stop or even slow down on our running, but instead, adding on a few miles each week and then running 5Ks and 10Ks – and soon, we are running half marathons and then full marathons – which is the final challenge and the “holy” grail of running.

Additionally, and in a much broader context that goes beyond the individual, many people run for “social” reasons. They like to socialize and be part of a running community. Training groups, and on the more formal level, running clubs, provide people with the opportunity to meet and train with others of like mind – otheres who rate fitness and health as a worthwhile pursuit.

For you, it will not be just about running the farthest or the fastest. It is a place where you can best cope with your problems and be in a space where you find contentment within yourself and your reason for being. It is a place where you will have health and fitness and be able to experience and enjoy a wellbeing quality of life.

Remember, running is not being considered here as an end in itself, but in the context of fitness and health.

That is why and how we runners run!

Q. Running is supposed to make me physically fit. But what does being physically fit mean?

A. So you run to become physically fit, but what does this mean? Sadly, even among the experts, there is disagreement on a single definition of physical fitness.

Wikipedia considers physical fitness to be a “measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases and to meet emergency situations”.

In the Oxford Food & Fitness Dictionary, “fitness” is generally defined as the ability of a person to live a happy, well-balanced life”. A relative term, “it embraces the physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life”.

In some less formal sources, physical fitness is described as a “state of well-being”, with the risk of the early development and onset of health problems, being relatively low. People in this condition have a high degree of energy and are able to perform large number of physical activities at high levels of intensity and dexterity.

In another camp, with a more esoteric approach, those who are physically fit, are seen to possess a “set of attributes” which makes them capable of performing physical activity.

Some people relate physical fitness to how fast or far one is able to run in a certain time, or how much weight one is able to lift, and in general, having “good health”.

Although the verdict is still out on what physical fitness means, there is mostly a general agreement on the components of physical fitness. Combined with proper dieting, these components determine the level and fitness as a whole, and ultimately the wellness of the body as a whole. They are:

Cardiovascular Fitness, which, during prolonged physical activity, determines the capability of our heart, lungs and vascular systems to supply blood which is enriched in oxygen, to the muscles where blood oxygen is being depleted.

Muscular Endurance which is defined as the muscle’s ability to continuously perform certain movement activities over and over again, or, to remain in certain positions for lengthy time periods.

Muscular Flexibility which measures the extent to which a particular muscle can be extended.

Muscular Strength which measures the amount of force a muscle can develop to resist an external strong force.

Body Composition which defines the ratio of body fat to its lean mass (e.g. bones, muscle, organs, etc.)

These allow us to develop physical fitness routines around them and so achieve a high level of fitness and health.

Q. Is there a “best” stage in my life at which I should start to run?

A. We could answer by asking a question ourselves. – At what time in our lives do we want to become fit and healthy? How would you answer? No, there is no magically “best” stage of life to run which is applicable to everybody. Do not think that you are too young or too old to start running. If your age is your talisman or the only launching pad for when you should start running, then you probably will never start! I know of no instances where successive birthdays prompt us with forceful commands to do so! Rather, the “seed of life” or birthplace for running, is motivation! When that day comes, you will know it for sure, you will heed (there is no holding back then!) its clarion call – the call to “arms” (read run!) – and you will start to run.

You are going to need the motivation to run and therefore the best time to start is when you are so motivated – for whatever reason. Obviously, the earlier in life that you start to run, the better it is for your health and fitness. Starting to run when you are younger, means that you become stronger, physically, emotionally and psychologically, at an earlier stage in life, than if you put off the process for later in life.

Starting earlier, you sooner will attain, maintain and begin to enjoy, that feeling of health and wellness which running produces, and be able to have that experience for a longer period of your life – which running itself extends. That very rewarding and wonderful feeling, that feeling of great strength and being invincible that running brings, you will get much sooner, and that fulsomeness of what, in life, with great nostalgia and often regret for its non-exploitation, we refer to as our “youth”, will be even more enriched. The difficulties are enhanced with age and therefore the process to this stage and level is also faster and easier when you are younger.

Asking this question also provides for you, someplace behind which you can hide and put off that starting time. Living in a society which eschews action without knowledge, we can safely hide behind – and without much criticism! – “professed” ignorance. You do not start to run, because you have requested the knowledge which is to guide you to do so. You are waiting for an answer, waiting for someone to tell you when to start! Do you need advice about your fitness and health? Then take up running now!

I suggest however, that you provide yourself with the answer. No one really knows better than you do, just when you are ready to run. So for you, asking this question, there is now no place to hide. Your subterfuge has been exposed, and, with no place now to hide, you must run – at least, and as a start, from your hiding place. Now you really have no excuses left. Just don your running gear and start out today. For you, the best time to begin your search for health and fitness – and therefore to start your running – is NOW!

Q. How do I get started in running?

A. The answer is that you start very slowly – which means that you do not run at first (even though you have spent a great deal of time initially preparing for just that event!), but you walk! Most beginner’s make the serious (and often very painful!) mistake of trying to take off like a rocket – of going at it very hard and with a lengthy effort.

The funny part is, that unless you are very “unfit”, you are able to have some measure of success at this the first go – and maybe even the second! – but then you find that, instead of being able to carry on like this and pick up the pace and distance, the third or fourth day you cannot – and actually begin to slow down and do less and less for each following day!

Why? Too much pain and soreness! – or perhaps worse – some serious injury like a torn ligament! Your ambition has catapulted you into disaster! – from the way you feel, you will not have to be told that that approach was a mistake! Some soreness and pain and breathing discomfort do occur when you start to run, but they are manageable and bearable, and do not immobilize you because of their intensity. Starting slowly and easily, allows you to continue through all the discomfort, instead of quitting in agony and disgust! So you take it “slow and easy” at first.

If you are not the “physical” or “athletic” type, have been involved mostly in a very reduced level of physical activity (perhaps only repeatedly bending your legs to sit and stretching your arm to receive and raise a glass of beer repeatedly to your mouth!), and you are therefore out of shape, and perhaps overweight (or quickly approaching that sorry state!), you start by walking 20-30 minutes, a few times a week.

After a few weeks of doing this repeatedly, and observing decreasing states of soreness, pain and discomfort, you start doing some faster walking intervals. You walk quickly for 2 or 3 minutes, alternating these “high” (?) – yes, it is all relative my friends! – activity levels with slower walking periods.

How much? How often? You test yourself – it is for you to decide the amount you can do and be relatively “comfortable” – not over doing it and stressing or over reaching yourself! Discipline and control are essential now for you to later reach (without serious injury), that level at which you can safely indulge yourself in the irresistible urge to take off – and which you can then do without the inhibition of much pain and soreness!

When you have done this walking routine for a few weeks, and you feel ready to run (the soreness and pain have largely gone away, and you feel that you are indeed holding yourself back –chomping at the bit so to speak!) – you can now begin to incorporate running in your routine. You do this by a combination of running and walking – you “warm up” with a walk for 5-10 minutes, and then jog for a minute or two, alternating these with walking rest periods.

If you think that you have achieved a level of “fitness” high enough to dispense with walking, then you can begin to run without the walking! Do not get carried away however as you can give yourself a serious setback here! Do it – but only for short periods at first – 10 minutes, then 12, then 15, then 20 and so on. Increase these times after every 3 to 5 runs you make, but you must be careful not to increase the distances too rapidly. Somewhat later, again depending on how “well” you feel, you can increase the pace at which you run. If you have treated your body well to this point, it won’t let you down. It will respond to your demands!

The important axiom here is that you must give your body the time it needs to adapt and do not impose upon it, the indulgent satisfaction of your own selfish ambition. It is the one body you have and you must love it, care for it tenderly and protect it – yes, even from yourself! Your body is unused at first, to this level of “stress” which you are placing on it, but it will adapt, given the time to do so. Starting off slowly allows your body to adapt within its own capacity to do so, and at the rate at which it is capable of doing so effectively. Much later, when you are more used to running and have developed the necessary capacity to do so, you can intensify your efforts.

It must not be forgotten that proper dieting is an essential ingredient in the mix, although this has not been elaborated on here. For a comprehensive review of desirable dieting practices, you can take a look at some dieting tips.

Health and fitness is a very unique experience. As a goal, it comes slowly!

Q. Am I going to experience much soreness and pain when I run?

A. The cliché is: “no pain, no gain!”- and therefore I will not try to deceive you. The short and unfortunate truth is, yes. There will be some pain and soreness, particularly if you are a beginner and have not been exposed previously to much “physical” activities. For this, there are ways to get some temporary relief. However, “this pain for gain” is not limited to, nor is it a condition only, of running. When you attempt to perform any type of exercise which you don’t normally do, your body will be performing actions that it wouldn’t normally do when you are at rest, and your muscles will therefore at first, become sore and stiff. So will it be with running.

Your calves and upper leg muscles can get really sore, while your joints (ankles, knees and even hips) can become painful- but there are  means by which you can decrease this somewhat, while for more extensive treatment of normal running injuries, you will need a more  comprehensive method. However, with time, all this will gradually go away if you are not overdoing it, that is, pushing your body beyond its capacity and capability, at that time. You can ameliorate some of this by first doing some “warm up” exercises (stretching, etc.) before imposing heavy stress on these muscles. Some sources claim that this soreness and pain as well as pain from running injuries, can be treated with certain techniques which allow quick recovery and pain-free running. Severe and persistent pain however must not be ignored as such could represent some “damage/tear” to tendons, muscles cartilage, etc., and medical advice should be sought in these instances.

Get your fitness up, experience the wellbeing of a healthy life, and you won’t remember the pain.

Q. I hear that running is good for my health, but how can that be so when I also hear of the pain, soreness and other physical discomforts which running causes. Doesn’t running often “lay up” many “professionals” in this category?

A. Yes, you are right about the “physical pain and suffering” that is attendant on runners, and even “professional” runners fall victim at later stages, to some of these! Runners do experience these, but for the most part, this ”pain and suffering” is limited to the first stages of running, when you are a first time runner, and, especially so, if you are not the “athletic type”, meaning that you are “unfit”. In situations where this is really bad (and not the result of overdoing it!), there are methods which can be used to  reduce the pain and soreness or  you might seek some “deliverance” from the pain and soreness by using
a more comprehensive method,

With the proper routine however, it poses no threat and soon disappears – an all too potent reminder of the dictum for any form of exercise – no pain, no gain! And again, yes – even professional runners “get laid up” with “injuries” – but that is because they ignore (maybe even briefly!) what, as a new runner, you are warned about, and that is, that you should not push yourself beyond the physical load capacity your body is capable of –at any one time! – although this capacity can, and does, improve with time and relevant activity.

Yes, running “is good for you” in so many ways, that answering the question under conditions which prevail here, will fall short if proper justice to be served in this regard!

Running is good for your health, because it is a very demanding cardiovascular activity which gives rise to a decrease in body fat levels, thus facilitating weight loss, while simultaneously increasing lean tissue. It maintains the elasticity of arteries, keeps them open, allowing the free flow of blood and thus lowers blood pressure (most serious runners have lower than usual blood pressures!). The enhancement of cardiovascular health through the strengthening of the heart significantly reduces the risk of any cause of death, including heart diseases, strokes, many different forms of cancer and diabetes.

Running is good for you because the deep breathing, into which runners are forced, uses up a great deal of normally unused muscular capabilities, making the lungs strong and robust. It boosts and improves the immune system thus, warding of the onset of many common ailments and sicknesses, and significantly increases bone density thus reducing the risk of bone diseases such osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc., and decreases the risks of degeneration of joints, especially for older people. Running strengthens muscles thus giving greater mobility, flexibility and co-ordination while ameliorating the risk of muscular aches and pains such as occur in the legs, backs, etc.

The so called “goodness” of running however, goes well beyond the mere physical. After a “good” run, runners often experience high levels of exhilaration and a strong feeling of euphoria. Higher than normal levels of energy are achieved by runners in their daily lives, and their bodies function better, and are more relaxed. This decreases the incidence of stress thus lessening depression, fatigue and anxiety and helps you sleep better if you are an insomniac. Running in fact is the poor man tranquilizer! It puts you into your own space in a “drugless” way for which you don’t have to get FDA approval!

These are unique blessings which runners count everyday, and which, like beautiful poetry or music, reach into and fill the deepest recesses of their bodies, minds and souls as they run! They certainly strengthen my own motivation and energize my efforts in hard and demoralizing times! As runners, we get so much here for relatively, so little!

For health and fitness you pay a price –but it is a relatively small one, and makes running well worth it.

 PART 2

 40 OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RUNNING FOR FITNESS AND HEALTH

  Q. Is there a best running style?

 A. This subject might not be a familiar one to many runners, and therefore, it will be dealt with a little more extensively than would normally be the case in the present context.

 We can best start off here by wondering what is it that we are so anxious about that we are led to asking this question, when we simply want to go running for our fitness and health? The answer to this is that, many runners, who have been running for some time, have come to develop the strong belief, rationally or otherwise, that there is a special “technique”, which, should it be discovered and adopted, would make them not only less prone to injury, but, be able to run faster and operate at a higher level of “efficiency” in their running routines! – and who does not want to set world records of speed and endurance?

The question understandably, is therefore more of a pressing issue for those who want to run competitively as, utilizing this “best practice” style (in which they believe!), would significantly improve their competitive chances. For the non-competitive runners, this is not such an absorbing issue. Among other reasons, these would have begun to engage themselves in running for fitness and health, because they believed that running, as a form of exercise, could be done almost anywhere, without “formal” lessons and required as well, minimal outfitting equipment. They just had to get some proper attire, a pair of running shoes, and they could be off running without reference to anyone!

To a degree, this is largely the case for most beginning runners, and as such, although these might arise in their minds, questions of “best styles” are of only minor concern and in no way deter them from getting out there and just running! The fact that the more advanced runners raise the question of “style” however, would suggest that the matter of a “best” style approach to running, might not be as simple and discountable as many beginners might be making it out to be.

This question – which perhaps might silently be asked by beginners running for fitness and health -  mostly stirs debate at the other end of the running spectrum – that is – among advanced runners and coaches. The vast majority of runners in between, are mostly silent and unmoved by this debate – and with good reason. Whatever their running “style” is, it has served them well for many years, from the beginning to that “intermediate” stage, and they are not about to change their “style” soon – and risk putting their running for fitness and health routines off track!

There is no question that on the face of it, people “run differently”’. If you watch people run, either under ordinary circumstances for fitness and health, or in races, you will soon notice that there is a wide variety of “running styles”. Some runners look very relaxed, are balanced and have an upright stance. Some look to be very tense, have their necks and shoulders squeezed together and seem to be off-balance and one step away from falling.

Some run with what appears to be “military precision”, looking so “stiff” that they give the impression of being brittle, and that they might break apart at any time! Of course they never do, but continue thus for the rest of their “running” days, and never coming to any grief – never becoming a running “casualty” of their “style”.

Some are very clumsy, “rolling” forward with a very “untidy” gait, with each step becoming a very uncertain locus of precarious balance – and you think they are about to overbalance sideways! Of course, they never do so, for if they did, or, if they were uncomfortable with their “style” or were being injured because of it, they would have adopted another one! I have not seen them do so, but instead they retain their style (which would never win them a “free form’ contest!), for the rest of their running lives! They seem to get the same satisfaction from their (“clumsy”?) running as any other runner! Still other runners are like “poetry in motion” – they hardly seem to touch the ground, but just float through the air – they in fact seem to be running on air!

These differences in running “techniques” are however not surprising. The fact is that our bodies are all proportioned differently and hence our efficiency at any particular “technique, will differ profoundly from one another. Despite this, our running does allow us to achieve the fitness and health we seek!

It is not astonishing therefore that there are many intriguing theories about the “best” running technique. Strong convictions about how “best” to run are widely expressed, and various views are vigorously defended when runners gather together. Running coaches are strong proponents of “best“ styles theories, while runners categorize their peers as having “good” or “bad” running “mechanics”. To date however, scientific research, conducted into the “mechanics” of running, has failed to identify and deliver a clear winner in running style.

It is felt by some, that if you change your technique, if you change “your form”, it can make a great difference in the way you feel, in the efficiency of your run and, in your performance. While this can have a positive effect for some (improved running performance), for others, relevant investigations have shown that often, when they  try to ‘make-over” their form by forcing themselves to adopt those running “mechanics” considered to be the best for the running genre, their running performance decreases instead of increasing – as runners they become worse, not better.

Running techniques however very often take second place to concerns about fitness, and within this context, the battle ranges between “forefoot running” (the forefoot is the landing point or point of contact with the running surface), and, “heel striking” (the heel being the landing or point of contact with the running surface). The latest approach among some, has been to promote “forefoot running” as being superior to “heel striking”. However, although each side has its strong proponents, there is no “hard evidence” (personal and anecdotal” evidence” abound!) to give either approach ascendancy over the other.

With increasing concerns for injury, which is a common occurrence in distance running a major part of the search for the “best” style of running is for the purpose of reducing the incidence of injury. Those who defend “forefoot running” vis a vis “heel striking”, argue that heel striking is the major source of running injuries. They argue and that changing to a midfoot or forefoot strike, will decrease any runner’s risk of injury.

Another suggestion for the “best form” is that attention should be paid to the positioning of the head, torso, hips, arms, shoulders, etc. For each of these, there is a “best” positioning. However, this approach will not be elaborated on here  – in fact, attention to these in my running activities, would but serve to severely ”cramp” my style!

The answer then to the question of a “best running style” – that “technique, which when applied, would maximize every potential and capacity we have for running, and, which would make us” super-charged” – is that the matter continues to form the subject of a strong ongoing debate, and, at the moment, “the jury is still out”.

So what are we to do? Are we to stop running (or not start as runners!) until we find this magical “best” form? The answer is, definitely not! My own belief is that while there might be a “best technique”, it is not “universal” for everyone, that is, a “one size fits all” scenario! – but rather, that that “best” technique is unique to each of us – one on one – one for me ,one for you, – the determinant being our own individual physical differences! – one for each of our different physical proportioning. In order to find that one “best” – that is, the one that is suited to your own body – you might want to experiment! If you did find that “holy grail” for running, conventional wisdom suggests that you would know it because your technique would improve, and you would be less prone to injuries!

In the meantime, those of us who run for our fitness and health, will continue with our present “running styles”. If we develop serious discomforts with our joints (knees, hips, ankles. etc.). then it will perhaps be time to distract ourselves with this question. The “style” we now use, “best” or not, is all we have at this time –the jury is still in the jury room – and the judge might have to rule for a retrial or even throw out the case! We continue as usual with our running for fitness and health! As we wait (but not at the expense of our running routines!), for a “best” style, adding other exercises to our running routines, can improve our condition and enrich our experiences.

For many of us, the “best” style will probably be that which we end up doing. It is the one with which we are most comfortable, for if we were not comfortable with it, WE WOULD NOT RUN!

If you wish a comprehensive view of best practices in running, this link will take you to the Best Practice Tips. In any case, do not get too carried away by all of this, but bear in mind that the “activity” of running is only one element of your fitness and health.

 Q. Won’t I damage my joints from running on very hard surfaces such as asphalted roads and cement surfaces?

 A. Yes you can if you are out there running for your fitness and health- and you will, if you do not take the proper precautions! – because one’s foot hits with a force somewhere between three and four times one’s body weight when it strikes the ground – and that really jars you! This is therefore a worry for some.

However, the risk can be significantly reduced or mostly avoided, if you pay the proper attention to your running shoes (we are ignoring here the controversy raging about forefoot running and heel striking running, and the claim that forefront running reduces the incidence of injuries!). Getting a suitable and comfortable pair of running shoes is perhaps the single most important preparatory step that as a runner you have had to make.

The running shoes that you therefore wear as you run for fitness and health, should take the “hardness” of the surface in consideration and should serve the purpose of absorbing and ameliorating some of the “shock” experienced as your foot (heel or forefront!) hits the running surface, cushioning each step and allowing the natural shock-absorbing action of muscles and joints to work better. Note also that, the running beginner needs more protection than the more advanced runners, as these latter have developed stronger muscles and therefore need less rubber interspersed between their feet and the running surface.

Additionally, available evidence suggests that running for fitness, stimulates the body to strengthen joints, and, with the proper running shoes and relaxed jogging, the condition of joints in the lower body will actually be improved.

So yes – you must take care here. You will feel the “hardness” of the surface, and this might cause some discomfort at first which you might relieve somewhat with appropriate medication. However, if you continue to experience an unusual and persistent pain in your joints (knees, ankles, hips), consult your physician!

 Q. Is running an addiction and can I become a victim?

A. I do not like the wording of the question (there is a very negative perception of the word “addiction”), and particularly the last part about being or becoming a “victim”. I do not think that the word “victim” is appropriate for this mode or kind of “addiction”. Ask any runner if he/she considers himself/herself to be a “victim” of, or is “victimized” by virtue of being a runner! I like and introduce the word “virtue” at this time and in this context, since, in contrast to being “victimized”, I feel rather, that running makes me virtuous –  running as an exercise to achieve fitness and health, is a virtuous undertaking!

Avoiding the word “addiction” therefore with all its negative implications, I can answer that  ”yes”, running is “addictive”, and “yes”, you certainly can become “addicted” Many runners will readily acknowledge that they ARE “addicted” to running, but will refrain from making a connection with being an “addict”. They run 75+ miles each week and glibly talk about partaking in some exotic road races! – this represents the level and extent of their addiction!

But if this allows a classification as being an “addiction”, is it not wonderful to have such an “addiction”, something that is in, and of itself, good for you? – something that allows you to take control of your health, improve your fitness, and boost your self- image?

To be excessive about anything in life is regarded as being in an unhealthy state. To consume too much of essential minerals like iron selenium and copper, can prove to be poisonous and hazardous to health and life itself. Working too hard, more often than not, proves to be counter-productive, while, in the case of extreme thirst and dehydration, too much water can prove fatal.

So it is with running. Too much of this, with too little rest, will have an adverse effect on your health and fitness, and, instead of, for example, finding your legs getting stronger and more “durable”, you find them weak and lacking spring and vitality. You thus can turn something like running, which has a very positive impact on life, fitness and health, into something which can be destructive of all of this. Many runners, especially marathon runners, face this ultimate test – that of running “addiction”!  They can alleviate this physical “enslavement” by adding a variety of other exercises to their running routines as well, exercises which will excite the super conscious parts of the mind, improve concentration and memory, and dramatically reduce stress.

Yes, running is addictive. You can turn running, like anything else, into an addiction, by over doing it and going overboard. But as a runner for fitness and health, I am proud to be a happy and contented running addict as I run for my very life itself!

Click H

40 OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS IN RUNNING FOR FITNESS AND HEALTH– Part 3

Q. Are There Special Fitness and Health Benefits to Hill Running?

 A. The asking of this question comes from perceptions which are largely dependent on the topography of where you live or have to run!  Those who have no choice and have to run uphill, simply start to do so, and continue to do so, as though it were the most “natural” thing in the world. With no other choice, hills are not seen as some sort of obstacles, but as basic “building blocks”, attributes or elements of their physical environment. These runners, without a second thought on the matter, simply proceed to learn the best techniques which will facilitate and accommodate running as a comfortable balance with their environment.

Those who have a choice of either alternative, without hesitation choose not to make the hill choice, but “naturally” start to run on the flat surfaces, and continue to do so as though there was no other choice at all! These runners see hills as a kind of “high” hurdles – and hurdling is not a part of their running routines!- effectively causing them to have to “burn more energy”, putting their muscles under greater strain, with their lungs bursting at the end of it! – a definite strain on their endurance and a negative impact in so far as their running “achievements” (times, distances, endurance, etc.) are concerned!

These runners view hills as having a great nuisance value, presenting runners with “challenges” which they will not willingly under take and would rather totally avoid if at all possible – the level ground providing far less of a challenge. Hills, being their “sworn” enemy, would reduce them to much lower levels in their routines – levels beyond which they had imagined that they were long past! Hills? – definitely impediments which should be eschewed!

The thing is that on the face of it, these “claims” cannot be denied. There is a “dark” side to this – at least in the eyes of the majority of runners – as hills do pose special challenges.  Going up them at any pace, is an arduous and rigorous undertaking, putting extra strain on your muscles – and in fact your entire body! – making it far more difficult to achieve any “respectable” running statistics, and, most cruel of all, forcing you to have to alter your smooth, easy, balanced and “comfortable” running style!

Get thee behind me hills! (you might intone) – and that, especially after the seemingly injury threatening,  unbalanced and precarious roller coaster type of “running” by which you are going down them on the other side! But there is a silver lining here, which more and more runners are beginning to see. If, as a runner you have a fear of hill running, take some comfort in the fact that this can be ameliorated if you recognize that what is required is the adoption of proper hill running techniques which have been elucidated, and, that hill running, rather than seemingly “hobbling” your running ventures, can effectively improve your running capacities and capabilities and enhance your fitness and health undertakings.

Runners have an aversion to hill running but will get on a treadmill for a “workout” if, for some reason, they are compelled to remain indoors for lengthy periods, and do not wish to interrupt their “training”. This equipment provides an element of “resistance training”, a technique that has some undisputed advantages to runners, and which, in one form or the other, they are careful to add to their training routines. Mostly unknown to them however, is the fact that hill running provides or simulates this very important element of their training exercises. But perhaps a very special proof of the efficacy of hill running in this respect is needed, and this therefore we will now seek.

Neither those who are “devoted” hill runners, nor those who are equally “fanatics” of running on flat surfaces, are really “authorities” as to whether hill running is “better” than running on flat surfaces, as there is no “common” standard to which either of these proponents could refer. For the answer therefore we have to turn to a more “disinterested” source, that is, scientific research.

Much of the recognized and now widely accepted “benefits” of hill running are outcomes of studies carried out at the Karolinska in Sweden for which, at the end of this article, I have provided some relevant references. These should be read by those who wish detailed information on the matter. It also makes for fascinating reading and is well worth the effort in doing so. In the meantime however, some of the results of these studies, as well as from the African experience in marathon running, are presented here under the rubric of “benefits” of hill running.

In order to “beef up” their running capabilities, many runners perform some level of what is called “strength training”.  They do this by going to the gym and indulging in some form of weight lifting. Although these weightlifting exercises do in fact make them stronger and boost the potency of their muscles, these weightlifting gym activities are outside those of normal running.

Additionally, such exercises are narrowed down to, and concentrated on, particular muscles (thigh muscles, calf muscles, pectorals, etc.) and specific joints (knees, ankles, etc.). This therefore does not conform to the overall and more general approach to physical fitness which most seek for health purposes.

Neither does this approach speak to the more desirable comprehensive development of all parts of the body. Running up hill however, does provide this “more desirable state of affairs” as it not only keeps us in our running “playing field”, but furnishes as well, the opportunity for “strength training” which we would normally seek “outside” at the weightlifting gym.

While in normal running conditions your body is buttressed by the muscles in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and upper and lower legs, additionally, when you run uphill, you have to overcome gravitational forces to move your whole body up the hill. More energy therefore has to be expended in uphill runs, and hence more stress is put on your muscles.

As a result, your muscles have to contract in a more powerful manner than for normal running on level surfaces. This extra “stress” on your muscles, causes them to become stronger and more powerful. As runners use these muscles, for example for sprinting purposes, the new strength that these muscles have acquired, will  provide for the runner longer strides at a faster rate, that is, your speed will improve.

Another identified “benefit” of hill running to come from the Swedish studies, is that of an increase in “running economy”. Wikipedia defines “running economy” as “a measure of how efficiently a person uses oxygen while running at a given pace. Expressed as the rate of oxygen consumption per distance covered (ml/kg/km), running economy is the energy required running sub maximally at a given velocity.

Those who are able to consume less oxygen while running at a given velocity are said to have a “better running economy”. Running economy takes into consideration one’s body mass and oxygen consumption at a steady state within his aerobic range”. One finding from a study which involved marathon runners, noted that after 12 weeks of twice-weekly hill sessions, their running economy had improved by three per cent.

Both uphill and downhill running increases your “running economy”. It is touted that hill running improves the elasticity of muscles, tendons and ligaments. This allows them to carry out more work with less effort and they become less quickly fatigued. When you run up a hill, you exert more energy, putting a greater “stress” on, and requiring a greater “output” from, your gluteus maximus muscles, calves and hamstrings. As a result, you take longer and quicker strides and do so in a more efficient manner. If you adopt the proper technique, your foot placing is also better related to your centre of gravity, the latter pretty close to being directly above the former.

Those who run downhill know that the initial experience is one of increased forward speed, a tendency to overbalance and fall forward. You tend to automatically counter this by “reaching” forward while at the same time “braking” yourself by “tightening up” on your stride and slowing your forward (downhill) progress – you struggle with both the surface (the hill) and your own well tried “technique” which you seem to be called upon to abandon.

Runners however will tell you that you should not impose such added “stresses” on your body. Instead, you should be careful about your foot placing, endeavoring to keep it as directly as possible below your centre of gravity. Rather than shortening your stride (the “normal” tendency), you should try to maintain a quicker stride with more “freeing up” of your running – run smoothly, lightly and with more coordinated “free flowing” movements of your limbs and body. This kind of “best practice” on the hills will enormously improve your performance on flatter surfaces.

Research work carried out by Dr. Bengt Salkin of the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, has shown that, compared to those who did all their running on level ground, those who did hill running, had a greater build up in the quadriceps muscles of the chemicals (known as aerobic enzymes) which facilitate the functioning of muscles for longer periods without becoming fatigued. This increase in aerobic enzymatic concentration in the quadriceps favored accentuated endurance capabilities as well as increased speed, the latter being facilitated by a greater forward acceleration of each leg and an improved and more efficient knee lift.

It is claimed also (and with good reason), that hill running reduces the tendency to pick up common running injuries such as Achilles Tendonitis, Muscle Pulls and Strains, Shin Splints, Runners Knee, etc. This results from the fact that hill running strengthens leg muscles and tendons, increasing their flexibility and endurance capacities.

One thing that runners watch closely, is their “time off”, that is, the time spent away from running. They believe that being away from running results in a loss of that “edge”, that is, they lose “fitness”. This is one of the reasons why runners, perhaps more so than many others with other forms of exercises, fear any kind of even normal “intervention”, such as illness or other kinds of physical ailments for example, which would result in their having to be away from the “track” for any “extended” period, which they perceive as wasteful if not downright debilitating!

Apart from worrying about getting over the “illness” or disadvantageous side effects which might ensue from the particular ailment or disease, they worry about what they are “losing” in their running fitness!  For most runners then, the fact that those who run on hills are known to be less likely to “lose” fitness when they take time off from training, provides some comfort and will encourage more runners to add even some small element of hill running to their routines.

Special Benefits To Hill Running
In summary therefore we might say that hill running has its special benefits and advantages with respect to capabilities developed in running on flat surfaces. Among the most recognized for hill running are:

(a) Ability to run faster

Because you strengthen your muscles when you run uphill, they become more powerful and thus able to generate a lot more force. With this increased power, runners are able to run faster (e.g., they can start much faster and take longer strides).

(b) Boosted strength and power

Running up a hill provides a form of “resistance training” which runners recognize as a requirement for improved performance but which they normally carry out in a gym. This is particularly related to the quadriceps, the gluteus maximus, calves and hamstrings which hill running strengthens more than running on flat surfaces.

(c) Reduction in the risk of injuries

Since hill running strengthens the muscles of the legs, etc, there is less chance of the usual running injuries, many of which can be related to weaker muscles being called upon to “deliver” too much beyond their capacities.

(d) Increase in upper body potency

Your upper body strength increases because when you run uphill, you have to “pump” harder with your arms than you would normally do when running on level surfaces.

A word of caution however must be interjected here. It is not recommended that beginning runners take “uphill” running immediately as a sustained and substantial part of their running routine. Beginning runners have to “work up” to this level of “fitness”. At the early stages of their running routines, their muscles, sinews and tendons have not yet acquired the level of strength, elasticity and flexibility required for this.

Hill running puts a great deal of stress on muscles and connective tissues, which are not yet “broken in” and therefore, in that case, would be unable to handle that “extra load”, that is required.  Beginners would undoubtedly quickly find out that they had developed a great deal of pain in their knees and Achilles tendons, for example.

A whole new “culture” has developed around hill running with its own styles and rules for “best practices”. There are “best body positioning techniques” developed for running “uphill” as distinct and separate from those for running “downhill”, as well as special running routines, schedules and activities.  These will be elaborated on in future posts.

Best conclusion? Running for fitness and health is enhanced by including some amount of hill running in training routines.

Bibliography.

Sjordin, B., and Svendenhag, J. “: Applied Physiology of Marathon Running”, Sports Medicine, Vol. 2, -Issue 2 – 1985 – pp. 83 – 89.

Janson, E., Sjodin, B.,and Tesch, P.; “Changes in Muscle Fibers Type Distribution in Man After Physical Training – A Sign of Fiber Type Transformation”; Acta Physiologica, Scandinavica, Vol. 104, Issue 2, pp. 235 – 237, October 1978.

Larson, P.,Sjodin, B.,and Karlson, J,: Histochemical and Biochemical Changes in Human Skeletal Muscle with Age  in Sedentary Males Ages 22 – 65 years”, Acta Physiologica, Scandinavica, Vol. 103, Issue 1, pp. 31 – 39, May 1978.

Q. If I have to run down the street to get the bus or catch up with somebody in the hallway, I get out of breath and feel tired and drained. How then am I going to be able to run any distance on the track?

A. You are really asking the wrong question here, and, if you pursue this approach, the chances are excellent that you won’t end up running at all! You should not be worried about (and even consider!) distances at this time. Look instead, more to WHY you are breathless and tired and, perhaps more importantly, WHAT you can – and SHOULD – do about it! Well, this latter is easy to determine – you can begin to run for your fitness and health, as you now have some motivation!

 Without a doubt the first times that you go out running, you will experience some level of breathlessness, and will puff and pant and have possibly, some tightness of the chest after a few ( few? – maybe one!) minutes. However, that is OK, as you will be doing this under controlled conditions! You are going to repeat this day after day under physical conditions that your body can tolerate, and you will see the “experience” of breathlessness and puffing and panting, is really a step towards a level of physical fitness and health which is attained by your body as you “work” it!

The body gets stronger from such “work”, NOT while it is “working”, but rather, from and during the REST it will get later (this process will be explained in more detail elsewhere!). As this happens, and your body thus becomes more “fit”, your “breathless” periods will decrease both in frequency and quality (intensity), and will be less prolonged. Your periods of such discomfort will be more interspersed with some “good” periods of relative comfort with the conditions!

Let me repeat for those who might initially be discouraged by all of this! For the moment, please understand that the more you “work” your body in your running routines, the “fitter” it will become, and with time, the puffing and panting will decrease. After even a few weeks, you will be able to run much further than you could before, and do it faster, as you have been gaining a higher level of fitness and health! A time will come when the only thing to stop you is yourself – not shortness of breath! What will be important in the times to come is perseverance! However, there are ways of “motivating” your self when later you reach this stage.

Q. Since I am visibly “overweight” and often described as “fat”, won’t people make fun of me while I’m running?

 A. Many people seem to have this worry and asking this question provides an insight into their psyche! – and my answer to them is always the same. – If you are asking this question, the problem is that you have not yet found a reason to run – rather, you cling to a reason NOT to run! Running requires personal (INNER) motivation, not EXTERNAL justification. Such “justification” you should not seek after, nor should you allow yourself to depend on others to provide motivation for you from the OUTSIDE!

If you do not have the motivation OF and IN yourself, you will not be running for long.  Believe me – there are other “barriers” which you are going to have to face further down the “road” (both literally and figuratively!) that are far more potent and intimidating than what people might be thinking of you, and, if you are unable to deal with this latter (their personal perceptions), and instead, see it as a de-motivator, there is no way you are going to be able to overcome these others, particularly if you are a first time runner, over 40 say, and unfit!

Think positively about yourself and why, OF yourself, you are running. You are running for yourself – your health, your physical, mental, emotional and psychic wellbeing – and for your life! You are doing it for YOU! – where a high level of physical fitness and health, will bring real pleasure and satisfaction to every day of your life, where others will find theirs stressful and seeming to be a heavy burden!

It is you who will have that “sweet”, ethereal feeling of wellness and health – which no one can then take away from you when you get it! Why allow others (whatever they might be thinking!), to deprive you of the opportunity to get and achieve something that they themselves are not GIVING you, but which YOU are GIVING to YOURSELF?

Doubtlessly, some will make comments, especially if you are extremely fat and overweight and appear clumsy. However, serious runners will not be among these. They understand where you are coming from, and where you are going. They appreciate and respect you for what you are doing and understand the effort you are making. They know that for them, it was not so long ago that they were in a similar position which would be laughable in respect of where they are now.

For those who laugh, ignore them, however. They are usually doing nothing themselves and if contact is made, point this out and ask them about this. They are OUTSIDE and you should be looking INWARD! This latter will not be difficult, I can assure you. Just make a start at running and you will find it to be so.

You will discover and experience that inner peace and bliss which allows you to be detached from all else. Just ask any runner about this. Yes, others might laugh at, and, ridicule you and make derisive remarks, but it is you who will have the last laugh because you are improving yourself by running, while they are debasing themselves by behaving in this churlish manner.

Remember that for the most part, others are unlikely to give you credit for what you do for yourself, and particularly, when it is something they would themselves very much like to do but, for one reason or another (perhaps their own weak determination –and therefore you make them feel a sense of guilt!), will not do.  Praise for you under these conditions come very grudgingly – but not if it comes from you to yourself! GIVE IT HERE LIBERALLY! Fit and healthy is what you want to be!

  Q. If I take up running as an exercise for fitness and health, won’t I be eating a lot more?

A. Running will NOT increase your appetite and cause you to eat more! On the contrary, running, like many other forms of exercise, decreases your “appetite” as it acts, to use the common terminology, like a “suppressant”.

The problem of food and running is not about one of quantity (although you must eat a certain minimum to remain strong and healthy!), but is more about quality. Food restores your strength and energy. Some foods to so better than others, while some have deleterious effects on your body and inhibit the energy restorative process. The matter of various actual”foods” to be used in your diet (for a proper one!) which is very highly recommended that you adopt, will not be discussed here, but rather, the “contents” or “ingredients” of these foods will be very briefly mentioned. You are going to eat “better”, not more.

Runners have to pay very close attention to what (and sometimes too, how much!) they eat, the essential purpose being to have a “balanced diet” and one that contains a minimum of “fats”. To produce energy, muscles require a chemical (glycogen – but I won’t get too technical here, and neither is it my field of expertise!) which is provided by a group of very complex chemical substances called carbohydrates (you have at least sometime heard the term “carbs” being bandied about by experienced runners!).

Carbohydrates (“carbs”) therefore should form the greater part of your diet, and hence, to balance quantity against quality, foods with high carbohydrate content, should be sought after by runners. Proteins also supply energy and therefore foods with high protein contents are preferred diet solutions.

The activities of muscles on the other hand, are limited by fats – like putting low grade petroleum fuels in high powered engines! Runners therefore try to ensure that fatty intakes do not form more than at most, a quarter of their diets.

It is also worthwhile to mention here, that runners of necessity must sweat and therefore a high level of fluid intake is essential.

Q. Won’t I damage my body (joints, muscles, tendons, etc.) from running on very hard surfaces such as asphalted roads and cement surfaces?

 A. Yes you can – and will, if you do not take the proper precautions! – because one’s foot hits with a force somewhere between three and four times one’s body weight when it strikes the ground – and that really jars you! The “hard” surface amplifies the “stress” of the impact with the surface, which, because for the runner, every step is the same, becomes excessive by repetition and the runner therefore becomes vulnerable to injury.

Additionally, running constantly on hard surfaces, does not allow the body to accommodate itself to other forms of stress and therefore, while this kind of running strengthens in some respects, it weakens in others and so the runner again becomes more prone to injuries. The most common injury here is that of shin splints which is broken down into three categories, namely, stress fracture, medial tibial stress syndrome and compartment syndrome. As these injuries can very effective in “laying up” runners, some of them will be discussed in subsequent posts and the fundamental root causes and treatment of these and other running injuries elaborated upon.

Running on hard surfaces, is therefore a worry for some, but the risk can be significantly reduced or mostly avoided, if you pay the proper attention to your running shoes and don’t “over train” on these surfaces. Try mixing up running on “hard” surfaces with running on less hazardous ones. However, perhaps the single most important ameliorating action that as a runner you have to take, is that of getting a suitable and comfortable pair of running shoes!

The running shoes that you wear, should serve the purpose of absorbing some of this contact shock, cushioning each step and allowing the natural shock-absorbing action of muscles and joints to work better. Note also that the running beginner needs more protection than the more advanced runners, as these latter have developed stronger muscles and therefore need less rubber interspersed between their feet and the running surface.

It is also worthwhile noting that available evidence suggests that running stimulates the body to strengthen joints, and, with the proper running shoes and relaxed jogging, the condition of joints in the lower body will actually be improved!

In this context however, it is noted that the human body is a very “flexible” mechanism and will eventually adapt itself to any running surface. This therefore causes some runners to argue that any dispute about “hard” surfaces vis a vis “soft” surfaces, is fallacious and one of casuistry, as the body in the end, will be “comfortably” adapted to whatever condition to which it is exposed for any length of time.

It would therefore seem that we should be more concerned with the PROCESS of the adaptation (it is here that any threat, e.g., of injury, exists!), rather than the final adapted condition itself!

 PART 4

40 OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RUNNING FOR FITNESS AND HEALTH – PART 4

Q: What must I do to continue to motivate myself to run regularly?

Introduction

A. The question of motivation lies at the very heart of life itself – to be or not to be! It broadly spans the “philosophical” ► “medical” ► “daily life” spectrum, of which running is an activity in the framework of the “daily life” schema. Although the study of motivation is a subject matter of several fields such be happyas psychiatry, psychology, sociology, etc., there is no denying that its roots exist in that most ethereal and immeasurable part of our being, that realm of the SELF which we broadly call our “psyche”, from where it is a strong determinant of most of our normal actions. A successful, healthy and happy life, has a high motivational element

Although it can be argued that the factors which will be identified and discussed as having the capacity to maintain the motivation to run, are really “expressions” of our psyche and can take many forms, the answer to the question will be restricted to the “physical” manifestations of the underlying psychic imperative.

The foregoing is therefore not meant to be a “philosophical” pre-treatise about motivation, but rather it is to draw attention to the context in which the answer to the question is being presented. That said, we can now get on with it!

Running and Motivation

As pointed out earlier, the question of motivation spans the entire framework of human endeavor and there are excellent motivational guides available. It can be argued that if one is motivated generally, then running itself will also benefit from this. However, there are specific motivational issues which can be discussed within the context of various ares of human activity, including running, and these will be the subjects of our focus.

It is pre-supposed that most runners, who are running for fitness and health, simply want to know – and only at a very basic day-to-day level at that! – what are the things which they can do to maintain their desire (motivation!) to keep running! It will be assumed also that, as a runner, there is no “physical” impediment which would effectively prevent you from running, but that already you simply lack, or feel you are approaching the state where you will lack, the “desire”, – almost the will – to keep your daily “routine” of running going – there is even a “devil” in that word “routine”!

This is a question however, to which, even at the simple level of an “act” (what should I “do”?), there is no classic answer which applies to everyone. There are no “universal” factors which will motivate everyone and to the same degree. There are some relatively common elements, but the degree and intensity level of “motivation” will, and does vary widely, from person to person within these.

It is perhaps best therefore, that before answering the “what to do” to sustain motivation, we look instead first at the “what has happened” which, as runners, has brought us to the point where we feel a need for an “injection” of the magical “motivational” fluid. The “what to do” for a runner to maintain motivation, will then become a logical and obvious “countermeasure” for the causative factors.

Motivation needs its own planning. Just as when as a runner you set up your future schedule and plan your future runs, in like manner, you have to plan how you are to maintain your motivation to run. The two major factors which contribute to various levels of “de-motivation” in runners are “burnout” from actually running and, “boredom” from the “routine” and repetitive nature of running itself!

Burnout

This point is often reached by many runners especially when they “over-train”, for a big event like a marathon, or, if they have just been running excessively and often without a break. Additionally, it becomes very difficult to maintain motivation when, as runners, they have achieved their major goals. They are then, more than likely, to “feel” tired, both “mentally” and “physically” and to want a “break” from it all.

Boredom

This applies mostly to “middle level” runners and below, and is rarely a big problem with serious runners, especially those who run competitively. These latter have had, in the first place, a compelling aspiration to take up running – usually for the purpose of winning races! – and the running routines in which they are involved, were therefore ones of choice for this purpose. Secondly, they would have understood and accepted the fact that at the competitive level, it would be necessary for them to strive for continuous improvement in their performances, and of necessity therefore, they would have to pound away daily at monotonous routines.

Because of this therefore, they would very likely have chosen a training routine or exercise regimen, with incentives “built in” and which, by its nature, would be able to provide some measure of diversification. As running in a competition would always have a “futuristic” dimension for which preparation in the present was necessary and had to be on-going, serious competitive runners would hardly be – in fact, could not afford to be! – “bored” with their running.

These runners, would hardly, on any given day, with their training routine fixated on winning the next race, question themselves as to “what” they would do that day. Any factor which “interfered” with their routine, would more than likely, be seen as a humbug and a nuisance – because it would mean that there would be some part of their routine which had not been undertaken and for which they would later have to “make up” in some way or the other – hardly a circumstance for “boredom”! Their routines would have been “structured”, they would brook no delay and they would be “pumped up” everyday.

On the other hand, runners who are less “professional” and who perhaps run mostly for pleasure supported by a “desire” to be fit and healthy, can more easily become bored with their daily routine. Remember that this routine had probably been “chosen” in a far more “frivolous” manner than had been the case with the serious runner, and more than likely, it had been adopted from a point of personal “comfort” rather than “purposefully”– or perhaps simply because others were doing so! They therefore would have had no strong imperative to “stick” with their routines nor is it likely they would have factored into these, any level of “versatility”, because these routines probably had never been seen as being of a “long term” necessity.

These runners could therefore, at some later stages of their training, go through some periods of serious “disconnect “ – which could be of only a few days duration, or, in more severe cases, could stretch sometimes into weeks, and maybe even into months. Such runners could wake up in the mornings and begin to search for reasons why they should NOT go running – the weather? – tired? –work to do? –the desired weight loss had been achieved, etc.

They begin to wonder if the running routine for the day is really worth their while – but neither identifying nor articulating what being “worth their while” meant. They do not actually determine whether the reasons which they “drum up” for not running are in fact REAL. It becomes a matter of finding “excuses” not to go running, and if you are looking for these, you do not have to look very far. Many are usually at hand!

Yes, as is sadly the basis of this behavior, either from “burnout” or “boredom” – these runners are experiencing some level of de-motivation. At this point therefore these runners need to begin to look for means of motivating or “re-energizing” themselves, and for this cause, some mechanisms or “acupuncture needles” which have been used by many runners to successfully deal with this issue, are outlined below.

Some Tips On Things To Do To Remain Motivated About Running

Plan your running routines so that they will better reflect what you are actually aiming for. It is easier to do this up front, than to later try to change this because a problem has arisen. Include in the beginning, some factors such as a planned brief “outing”, some “time of”, say, for a short vacation, participation in some other activity, etc.

Keep some sort of a training record or log for your fitness and health achievements. This should include dates, times, pace, approximate distances, how you were feeling (breathing, physical state and so on), anything to which you can later refer and be able to make a comparison of the position now to what it was earlier. This will indicate (hopefully!) that you are making progress and thus will “keep you going”, i.e., motivated. Who, in the middle of “making progress”, would want to halt the process?

Do not be so absolutely “bound” by a schedule that it will cause you great ‘discomfort’ and to worry if you, at some time, cannot make it. While a routine of some sort is necessary for planning development, focus and dedication, you should make running be for fun and adventure, find enjoyment in it, and not be so obsessed that you spend an excessive amount of time worrying about the training schedule instead.

Run with friends or with organized groups. The social aspect of running can be a very motivating factor and is one of the very strong reasons (people are said to be “social animals”!) why many people, in the first place, take up running as a form of fitness and health exercise as opposed, for example, to lifting weights, which of itself, is much less of a “social” event and has much more of an “individual” aspect than does running for example.

Keep in mind the really great and desirable health benefits which you derive from your running. These I won’t go into here as they have already been described in great detail elsewhere on this site. Remember that you are really “running for your life” – one of fitness, health and wellbeing!

Run some races for fun and pleasure. All your “races” need not and should not be at a competitive level. This way you won’t, every time, have “go at it with a vengeance” or “give it your all”. You will find it real fun and you will enjoy the opportunity to run at an easy pace set by you, and not always be “pressured to perform” – a good space to be in if “motivation” is becoming a problem.

When running, put yourself in the “mental state” you want to be in. For some people, it might be a kind of “blankness” of mind – they just want to experience the sheer joy of running, of being “free”, “floating” in space, euphoric, etc. For others, it can be a state of the heightening of their mental capacity, free from “outside” intrusion, and when the/emy can “liberate” and unlock themselves from “chains” which normally “bind” their minds. These are the times when, for example, being in this state of heightened mental awareness, they are able to best solve and cope with their daily problems.

Try to not see your routine in terms of a “do or die”, “all or nothing”, “there is no tomorrow”, etc., undertaking. If you are not feeling very “energetic”, or, if you do not have your usual time for running”, etc, just do what you can do (even though it is less than normal!), rather than none at all – and try do so without carrying a huge burden of “guilt”! Do not see your running as your only reason for being!

Set yourself realistic goals which are manageable and realizable. This will increase your chances of achieving them. You can dream, but do not try to bring those dreams immediately to the track. Do not undertake training routines which will cause you, in the early stages, to have to change you whole lifestyle. The difficulties you will have to face in doing this, in addition to those which you will be encountering in running itself, can be great disincentives and will put a “damper” on your motivation, leaving you feeling disappointed and a “failure”.

Pick a short phrase – some call it a “mantra” – that you can go over and over or “play”, so to speak, in your mind – or which, if you are alone, you can actually say out loud! There are many such motivating phrases available from famous people. However you should try and either make up one of your own or at least choose from those phrases by others, one which fits your own style and personality. I will not attempt to make any suggestions here about these, because, from what I have seen of these motivating “sayings”, they more than ever emphasize the differences between people.

Develop or devise a “self-reward” system. For example, set yourself a target with a particular compensation or “bounty” to which you will treat yourself, when (not if!) you accomplish it. Be sure not to make it so arduous that you cannot achieve it – or that will undo all your good intentions.

On the other hand, do not make it so easy that it is not a challenge because that way, you are only cheating yourself and it will not help your cause or search for motivation! Make it for example, that if you can reduce your time by half a minute, you will treat yourself to a special play, concert, movie, etc., or give yourself a special dinner at a very special restaurant where you don’t often go, or wanted to go, but never have, etc., etc. When you do reach your target – collect your bounty!

Do not keep your “hesitations” (let’s call it decreasing motivation!) to yourself, but talk to others (especially fellow runners!) about this. Misery very often soon finds company and in so doing, that “collective effort” more often than not, provides a solution to the “common” problem. Or, in talking about it, you might be able to get “encouragement” from those who are at that time, highly motivated.

Include in your running routines or plans, some “easy”, “flexible”, “miscellaneous” or “quiet time”, because, no matter how “organized” you are in your routines, some “hindrance” is bound to arise – a sudden “duty” or obligation you are called upon to perform, an unexpected tragedy, a deadline at work moved up, etc., etc.

Having “planned” for this however, you will be more comfortable when it does arrive than if you had not done so. You can then deal with the “planned for” exigency, with less apprehension and fear that you will suffer serious speed loss, fitness setback, or even weight gain, (if a weight problem was your motivation in the first place), and be “comforted” by the fact that what has happened was already accounted for in the first place in your plan – it was all part of your original foresight!

Set yourself, even occasionally, a very special goal such as participating in a public event like a 5K , 10K, etc. (depending on the level of running you have reached), and advertise and keep it before yourself and before others as much as possible. Even, for example, tell your secretary at work as she will then feel obliged to continually remind you of this (her boss has a particular item on a schedule which she helped to plan), as she would normally do for any of your normal commitments, appointments, meetings, etc.

Post information around your home for example, about a special race, your training schedule for this, etc., This is a good way to get frequent reminders about them. This kind of “motivation by advertisement” (which can include posters, magazines, prominent publications, etc. placed strategically on the coffee table, on your night table, by your favorite armchair, etc), need not however be limited to around your house, but it can include other places you frequent. Nor need it be concerned only with a special event, it can be ongoing for the entire genre of your exercise activity for fitness and health– running itself!

Find a cause for which to run. You can see this in terms of a charitable effort on your part to help society in general. Many occasions of this sort are offered where races benefit charitable causes and some charities even provide the training and advice necessary to do this for fund raising. This is an excellent way to get and keep motivated as it really goes beyond you – it is for a much bigger purpose – and many (yourself included) would not hesitate to “sacrifice” self for a more “noble” purpose.

Complement your running routine with some other forms of exercise. This is called “cross-training” which, apart from the motivational factor, has become “a must” for many runners. You can include other activities such as cycling, yoga, swimming, dancing, barbell work outs, etc., which will in no way derail or detract from your running for health and fitness routines. Doing this 1 – 2 days a week, allows the muscles which you use most in running, to get some rest, while building up the strength and flexibility of other muscles

Link up with a “beginner”. This can be very stimulating if you don’t seriously mind being considerably “slowed” down at first! In the first instance, it will give you a chance to see yourself “way back when”, and to compare that early state with “your senior” status now. Secondly, it is flattering to have someone wanting to ”emulate” you, to “be like you” and to seek your counsel, advice and assistance, which you can ably give in terms of running gear, training routines, goal setting, diet, etc. Thirdly, you will then be compelled to see it all through some one else’s eyes and it will provide for you, a new dimension and a new “lens” for looking at things. This will foster your motivation and encourage and bolster your own efforts.

Keep running. Running itself is a motivator. It allows you to go much beyond the “routine” of your daily life, providing opportunities which for example, you would not normally have, to get into your own community or explore other communities. It opens up new levels of sensations, which are not normal experiences of the “humdrum” of daily life. You can get opportunities to go to places e.g., for races, to which you would not normally go, and to meet new people – people whom you would not normally encounter either, without such occasions. Running makes you feel good about yourself, increases your confidence and self esteem. Running opens up new vistas for your life and if you keep that in mind, your motivation to keep running will be enhanced rather than wane.

Get sufficient rest. Take “strategic” ‘time offs” for this specific purpose and as well, decrease your “intensity” periods. If you run what is called “high mileage” by runners, decrease this by as much as 75%, every 4 to 6 weeks. This will vary for different people, but the principle and purpose will be the same for all. Be sure to have at least 1-3 days off during the week – but this period again will depend on the individual and on the particular circumstances.

Diversify your training routines and alter your route. If you keep doing the same thing, day in, day out, and if you run the same route, every time you run, boredom is bound to set in as well as ”burn out”. Change your running schedule. For example, if you are used to morning runs, try running in the evening instead. This will be sure to substantially vary your “environment”. Change your route. For example, go along trails (trail running) instead of your usual comfortable “road” or “track” running”; do some up hill running (an entirely different training exercise and excellent for achieving fitness and health) if conditions allow, etc. This will assuage or mitigate the “sameness” of an every day training routine.

Keep yourself in a state of preparedness. Some runners find that being seemingly always prepared to run, wherever and whenever, is a motivating factor. They therefore always have their running gear close at hand (car office, travelling bag, etc.), and at any moment, are ready to and capable of, going running if an opportunity should present itself.

Above all, you must feel happy about what you are doing, that is, running. You must ENJOY it and FEEL that it is bringing to your life something that no one or anything else, could equally provide for you. That way you are sure not to want to ever give it up – and you won’t hesitate or question your decision to make and maintain running as your exercise of choice for health and fitness!

A list of so called “motivators” has been provided above. However, two things must be pointed out

a). As noted earlier, not ALL these factors will motivate every one, and if there were a factor which does motivate every one, it will not be to the same degree for every one; and

,b). It is not being suggested here that anyone should try to undertake ALL – or even several – of these motivating mechanisms simultaneously. If you tried to do so, you would probably end up with most of your time being spent in the PRACTICE of these factors rather than on actually running – a result which would be totally contrary to what you wanted to do in the first place – which was to keep up the level of running that you have been doing!

So perhaps a best answer to all of this is that you will basically have to find your own motivating factors and decide on those which you need to put in place. Take them to the level at which they will make you not only continue to run , but maintain at least, your present level. You can select a few (3 to 5 perhaps) of the above, or find others which are not listed here (yes – there are still others!), as no claim is being made to having captured here, all the possible motivating factors, especially as motivation in human evolution, has a “time” or “period” element.

Whatever motivating factors you employ, you must LIKE these factors, believe in them and maintain them through thick and thin, including the ardors, vicissitudes and the very perils of running!

As for myself, I am generally motivated, but additionally, there are things which work very well as running motivators, but which are a little more “esoteric” than the above. These are:

. That feeling of strength, invincibility, and self confidence which running gives me;

· That feeling of euphoria and ecstasy which I experience after a good run;

· The belief (not conceit!) in my capability to deal effectively with most physical challenges, with speed and agility;

· The finding of reasons why I should be out running, rather than justifying why I am lying there in bed;

· The reliance and confidence that others seem to place on me and on my physical capabilities – they will ask me to help in conditions requiring physical efforts;

· I sleep well at nights and handle stress relatively easily and effectively (people do not avoid me because I am in a mood!);

· The ability to endure for extended periods, a high level of physical stress factors;

· The intense focus that I have on the enjoyment of running;

· The feeling of release and peace which running provides;

· The high energy level and positive expectations with which I start each day.

But go find it (motivation) for yourself! – and please remember that any motivation in your running career (which doubtlessly have had to survive many periods of harsh “trials and tribulations”, if you have been a serious runner!) must also be backed up by a high level of dedication and perseverance!

 

.Q: How from the relatively short distances which I now run, do I get up to making longer runs?

A: If you are a regular runner for fitness and health, and certainly in the case of what has been described elsewhere as a “run warrior” and above, you should settle on (fix) a distance that you want to achieve. As a serious runner, you are aware that, target setting is an important element of the process for continuous progress and development, and that you achieve targets incrementally, rather than all at once.

Therefore, decide first on a distance of say 5K or 10K – but don’t just try to do this distance every day each time you run. If you have been running a distance of 2 or 3 Ks, 4 or 5 times a week, don’t just suddenly start doing say 4Ks , 4 or 5 times per week, for all your runs. Do the longer runs at first for only 1 or 2 times per week. You have to build up slowly to your target and to a higher level of fitness and health.

You now gradually begin to increase your longer runs, say by about 0.5K each week. Do this for 2-3 weeks and then cut back on your long run (say for about a week), to the distance you did during the first week of that 3-4 week spell where you started your 0.5K increase. Then go back to where you were at the 3-4 week period of increase and add say, another 0.5K to your long run – and so on. You should also take care that somewhere you cut back somewhat on your speed and “intensity” in those longer runs. However, as soon as your body makes the necessary adjustments and can facilitate and accommodate this, you can increase your pace and “intensity” accordingly.

The reason for this gradualism and care is the “unusual” (to your body!) utilization of energy which a longer run is going to require. You not only have to give your body time to “adjust”, but you also have to give it the rest it will need to recover from the increased stress that you are applying to it in undertaking your longer run. If you do not give it the time it needs to get back its energy and become capable of withstanding this “new” stress, you can do yourself serious injury.

So gradualism – a slow build up to this longer” distance you have set yourself – is the key!

Q. Should I Eat Before And After Running? What are the Best Foods then?

A. This is a two part question with “when” and “what” elements. As such, let us deal with them separately.

When should runners eat?

The short answer is that there seems to be general agreement that a proper dieting regimen for runners should involve eating before running. However, since the conditions and results are different for every one, it means that you basically have to experiment and determine what is best for you.

Generally, before you run, (daily routine or competitively), you should not be feeling “hungry” or “full”. For many, if there is too much food in the stomach when running, or especially just before a race, this can lead after you start to run, to a very “upset” stomach which can result in unpleasant conditions such as vomiting, nausea, cramps or “side stitches”, this last being a very intense pain, usually occurring on the left side and under the lower edge of the ribcage.

However, I have known people (one even a very close relative!) where the view and practice here are quite different! They eat relatively large solid food meals (they begin to run or exercise just after dinner!) before running or otherwise exercising, and appear to suffer no discomfort whatever. I cannot say the same for myself, my experience in such matters being the more common one of subsequent discomfort from eating too large a meal and then going running!

At the same time, if your stomach is empty, you will soon run very low on “energy. Therefore, you have to eat. If you have enough time, say 21/2 – 4 hours before beginning your run (routine or race), you can have a “full” meal with the proper diet foods.. This will allow the meal enough time to be digested, reduce the “discomfort” of a full stomach (that “heavy” feeling!), and ensure that you have enough energy.

The closer you are to your run or a race, the less “solid” food you should eat. If you are 1 to 2 hours away from the start of your run, the best solution is perhaps to eat a “light” meal, or, if that is not possible, you should try to eat something which you can quite easily “digest”. We will discus “what to eat” following this. If you are too close to your run or race time, avoid solid foods altogether and drink liquids instead, as these will provide the “renewable” energy source you need, are more easily digested by your stomach, and reduce the level of discomfort you might experience.

What should runners eat?

The foods that runners eat before a run, as well as after, are critical to how they “feel’ as well as to their energy levels, and with good reason. These foods also, greatly affect the level of their performance. Runners need to “fuel” their “active” muscles so these muscles can regain,store and have energy available when called upon to make an expenditure of “energy”, like when a running routine or a race, is embarked upon. This “fueling” is achieved when the runner eats proper dieting “foods”.

The major sources of this “food fuel” are chemical compounds known as “carbohydrates” – or simply “carbs” to most runners. These are transformed and stored in the muscles and form the “sugars” which later produce the “energy” needed. The conversion processes takes time, and is also dependent on the kinds of foods eaten. What runners eat after a run therefore, can greatly influence or determine their energy “potential” for the next run.

It is important therefore when deciding what kinds of foods to eat before starting on your running routines or participating in a race, that serious consideration is given what these routines are to be or what kind of race it is. Serious or very advanced runners often develop their own food intake program with due consideration being given to their own personal requirements and fancy, as well as to the overall requirement of a high carbohydrate content in their diet.

After your running routine or a competitive event, your energy will of necessity be low and you therefore need to restore this supply as soon as you can. Conventional wisdom, as well as experience, indicate that you should eat within the first 30 to 60 minutes after your running routines or event, since it is during that period that your muscles are best at producing the chemical substances needed for energy store. Eating during this time also is said to have a ”healing effect” by decreasing any soreness and stiffness you experience in your muscles. Protein is also another food source of energy which is recommended to form part of your diet. The “common practice” combination ratio, is eighty percent carbohydrate to twenty percent protein.

Quick energy from something easily digestible both before and after running, can be had from things like “energy” drinks, gels, “bars”, pastas, breads, fruits, etc. These are “high energy” foods (they contain high concentrations of carbohydrates!), and can help to keep up energy levels as well as serve to keep away hunger pangs.

For many who suffer discomfort with a heavy food intake after running, the practice that is going around among runners is that of drinking chocolate milk, considered to be a good substitute as it contains high concentrations of carbohydrates and proteins as well as the “B” vitamins, known as the “energy” vitamins.

In summary then, the best foods for runners to eat in terms of digestive ease and energy replenishment and store, should be “carbs”, meaning foods with high carbohydrate content, and these should be reinforced with foods of high protein content , e.g., white rice, pasta, bagels, low fiber fruits and vegetables and some dairy products. Foods with a high fiber level, high- fat levels foods should be avoided.

Throughout all of this, it should be borne in mind that constant rehydration is a must.

NB. THIS IS CONTINUED ELSEWHERE on this site.

Part 5


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