Everyone has their own perspective on going out for a casual jog. Some welcome the thought as they lace up, others crucify the thought in their mind until they see flames. The question is, why is it people instinctively and habitually shy away from the thought of anything faster than a brisk walk? Is it the rumored health cons (bad for your knees, heart, etc)? Is it the fact that they don’t want to be seen suffering in the public’s eye? Or could it boil down to people not wanting to do it?
I can speak for myself when I say I share a love/hate relationship with it. Due to the military mandating the activity to keep cardiorespiratory at an all time high, it’s recommended to perform outside of training. For me, this was the biggest obstacle I had to cross. With an annual physical fitness test needing a sub 28 5K, you don’t really have a choice. So I’ve incorporated ways to learn to like it. In consequence, I’ve reaped the numerous health benefits from it.
Don’t Get Cheap with Shoes
If you want quality gear, you won’t find good running shoes at the Dollar Store. There are several good brands of running shoes that hold true to their name. I personally love Asics. I own three pair for different terrains. Other brands I recommend:
- New Balance
- Under Armour
You may pay a pretty penny for some, but if you take care of them, you’ll get a couple dozen miles out of them.
Keep an Updated Playlist
I’m constantly adding new songs onto my iPhone. Many of them are metal, alternative, or an up-beat rock and roll to help me forget about what I’m doing. Surprisingly enough, adding a few songs to the mix has made me a bit faster over the past few weeks. Take a few minutes and search YouTube for popular running songs. You’d be surprised what new music you would like.
Keep Track of your Progress
This is a given for anyone striving to shatter old goals. Consistency and recording is a key to showing progress. Keeping tabs on lap time, distance ran, and even heart rate per mile is a great way to see your stamina and heart health improving.
There are several apps to use if you shy away from written records.
RunKeeper – My personal favorite. I get everything from GPS (with images), goal tracking, workout reminders, and weekly updates telling me how many miles I’ve ran in the past 7 days. There is also a setting that tells you your time and distance ran in 5 minute periods. It’s also a free download. Highly recommended.
Run Tracker – A close friend who runs marathons and cross country showed me this. Similar to RunKeeper, it breaks data down more. You can record data if you’re going for a casual stroll or doing sprint training. This helps you gauge yourself more accurately. Granted it costs $5, but it is a very good way to keep track of your progress.
HeartRate – This app works great if you don’t have a chest strap or wrist watch monitor. A quick and accurate way to measure your heart rate. Simply putting a finger over the camera lens will read your heart rate and record it. It provides options for you to say if you’re exercising, just waking up, just finished your workout, etc. Much easer than feeling your pulse and counting (although it’s wise to know how to do).
Find a Friend to Tag Along
Involving others will help. I recently ran with fellow Marines in a 5K and we talked the entire run. Little attention was given to the side stitch or hilly terrain (if there was any). Instead we caught up about families, soon to be fathers, and the latest on the World Cup. We all ran our quickest races thus far, and all we could think about after was where to eat. Snag a friend, go for a walk/run, and talk.
Cannot say this enough. Keep a steady intake of water going. The last thing you need is to cramp up when you’re a few miles from your house because of dehydration.
One thing I would recommend is planning. DO NOT drink anything sugary prior to an outing. Think about how much mucus you get build up because of it. Save the sports drinks for after you’re done. They will replenish electrolyte loss and keep you feeling upbeat.
If you want sodium before you run, pinch a little into your water bottle. Same essential thing as your sports drink minus the sugary flavoring.
It’s not the greatest idea to go from sitting to jogging. I’ve learned from several professors (who are also marathon runners) to perform dynamic movements a jog compared to static stretches. Reason being is to increase blood flow through natural movements, not a holds. Holding the muscle in an elongated position can actually use more energy and limit the functioning of it. Two things you don’t want prior to your excursion.
Do some air squats, lunges, hip circles, and side kicks to help warm up your hips and knees. Doing so will stimulate the nerves in your legs to “wake up.”
Performing static stretches afterwards will help increase joint flexibility, decrease muscle tightness, and improve blood flow when relaxed.
Perform hamstring stretches, quad stretches, calf, and piriformis stretches to end. To perform a piriformis stretch, see the photo below.
Lay on your back, cross your legs so your ankle is behind the opposite knee. Grab your hands together under your knee and pull back on it. You should feel a stretch around your butt.
The piriformis muscles attaches from the lower parts of your spine to the femur. If this muscle is tight, it can cause an involuntary external rotation of the femur (toes facing outward). By stretching this, you keep your feet facing forward and avoid future hip pain and complications.
Go out and go for a walk. Throw in a jog every now and then. As long as you get your heart rate up and keep it there, you’re making progress. Be safe, drink water, and keep a positive mental state.