Cardio exercise is important, so let’s talk about one of the easiest ways to add an effective cardio workout to your fitness routine—running.
It’s no good just knowing about the benefits of working out and not putting that theory into practice. Today, I’m going to try and convince you to take up running.
I’m a big fan of running and I’m naturally a sprint specialist—that’s a discipline that is all about explosive power over a short distance. Endurance running is a completely different exercise. Okay, so it still uses your legs, but I think running is something that anyone can get into with relatively little equipment. It’s also easy to start out walking and gradually ramp up—making sure you always go at your own pace.
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just want to add some cardio exercise to your fitness routine, here are some simple tips to help you reach your running goals.
The great news is that you don’t need to purchase a lot of equipment to run, although there are a few essential items that will make your journey more enjoyable.
- A pair of running shoes that fit well
- Distance running socks
- Comfortable clothing
Listen to your body
If you don’t feel ready to run, simply walk instead. Once walking for a set time becomes easy, try to alternate between jogging and walking. Your aim should be to find a comfortable, sustainable pace that feels good. Remember to stop if you experience pain. Always perform a warm-up and cool-down to ensure your body is prepared for exercise.
Train to time not distance
During the first few weeks of running, focus on the amount of time you are running (walking or jogging), instead of thinking about distance. Set a goal of 20-30 minutes and, once you can successfully run for the entire duration, increase your time. Looking at miles in the first few weeks can be mentally discouraging. Once you can successfully complete 45 minutes at your desired pace, map out the miles and steadily increase the distance you cover.
Understand your phases
Don’t just hit the pavement and start racking up miles. Instead, know that you need to form an aerobic base level by training at about a level five or six intensity out of the maximum intensity of level 10. This is because ‘steady state training’ effectively teaches your body to burn fat as fuel. This will be important as you start to increase your distance. You can work on your speed later in your training.
In order to become an efficient runner you must run. However, adding cross training such as biking, swimming or weight training to your weekly routine will help you to get fit and avoid getting bored.
Take technique one day at a time
Pick one technique to work on each time you go out for a run. There are several things you can work on, such as:
- Foot placement – ensuring you are striking the ground between the mid and forefoot
- Arm movement – ensuring you are staying relaxed as you pump your arms back and forth
- Posture – ensuring you keep a strong core
If you break down your technique one day at a time, you will not be overwhelmed. And after a few weeks, you’ll have improved your running style.
Mix in some hills
Add some hill running or varied terrain into your program. Running up hill is a great way to build strength, as it’s considered the weight lifting of running. Your posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes and calves, have to work harder when you are running up hill.
You must schedule rest days into your program to allow your muscles to adapt to the increased workload and efficiently repair themselves. One to two rest days per week are essential for great performance.
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