Originally featured on The Five Guide
For those, myself included around two or three years ago that are completely put off by the idea of running as a way of exercise it is often easy to come up excuses why not to run rather than focusing on the benefits of why you should. With the Christmas period fast approaching and 2017 on the horizon, the festive season is often a time for reflection, recollection and in many cases resolution with New Year targets regularly motivated by health and fitness being set as a new calendar year begins. Good tidings, good food and good cheer must quite rightly come first and should be celebrated to their entirety but as the hangover wears off, the fridge begins to empty and the dust settles on your Christmas festivities, it is already worth considering how to best make use of a fresh start and new beginnings in 2017.
Therefore try not to get left behind as we head into 2017 but if you are struggling for motivation or even for a healthy New Year’s resolution, @ASelbyInfo gives five reasons for why you should strongly consider taking up running and both how and why running into 2017 could be a fresh start like no other!
It is as much social as it is suffering – make friends through running!
Sport is often cited as more than just being high-energy and competitive with much more to different sports than meets the eye and running is no different. A world within a world of its own, it is not only team sports which offer an opportunity for social engagement with like minded people and despite the widely perceived idea of the loneliness of the long-distance runner, this could not be further from the truth. Perhaps at first the thought parting with your money to sign up for a gym membership and kitting yourself out with the latest and regularly expensive running attire to then face a lonely run on a treadmill may seem somewhat underwhelming but broadly speaking, running can be enjoyed as a much wider sporting activity and there are numerous opportunities to improve your social life as well as your fitness.
Whether that be through joining your local running club for a small annual fee, which in return can often be of benefit in the long run (pardon the pun) with discounted entries to events as part of a club or simply striking up conversation with fellow runners in the gym or outdoors, running does not need to be an isolated activity and your collective shared interest and drive to run can indeed bring people closer together. Even if the thought of joining a running club perhaps seems that bit too serious or too much of a commitment right now, there are however several, less-serious ways of running and sharing a run alongside others through group runs hosted by high-street sports running shops or events hosted through social media. With plenty of options available to transform an individual activity into one that is enjoyed as a shared form of exercise, running can open many new doors and can provide a priceless opportunity of meeting new, often similar people.
Clear your mind of unwanted worries through Running
Work, money, family, friends you name it – life is stressful enough already without getting yourself worked up and stressed over exercise! For all that it may seem as a daunting prospect at first, not just running but practicing sports in general are there to be enjoyed and not dreaded. As an activity which depends largely on an individual’s self-motivation and desire to set goals and run straight through them without burdening yourself with the responsibility of a group or a team on your shoulders, running can be one of if not the most rewarding sports to take up. Likewise as a way of clearing your mind and embracing a positive way of thinking, running is a blessing in disguise and even the greatest of problems before a run simply don’t seem ‘that serious’ afterwards. Exercise such as running, however strenuous or sedentary you make it, releases endorphins, creating feelings of happiness and euphoria. Similarly running can also increase the body’s concentration of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps moderate the brain’s response to stress. .
Admittedly putting on your running trainers and expecting your feet to do the talking for the duration of your run when it seems that your mind has done enough talking and worrying all-day long may seem difficult but when you are out on the road alone, running can be a refreshing activity and a perfect opportunity for personal reflection as well as putting things into context. Ranging from acknowledging and appreciating the views around you to getting lost in an audiobook or podcast or simply enjoying the beat and the music you are running to, give running a try the next time you feel anxious and see what good it can do for you. No matter what the weather, the grey skies before a run may seem that bit brighter after going for one!
Running will unquestionably improve your health
Aside from the many mental benefits there are to the sport, of course there are numerous advantages for your health that can achieved through running, especially in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Not only is running a fantastic way to keep fit but it can also be of the most efficient ways to boost metabolism build strength and lose weight. Widely speaking, a 30 minute can burn approximately 200-300 calories, depending on the speed and distance ran as well as taking other factors into account such as the runners starting weight and incline selected. Meanwhile as part of a weight-loss programme, as a high-intensity form of exercise running continues to work whilst you rest and stimulates more of an afterburn affect than low-intensity exercise. Similarly when compared to walking a mile, running a mile is clearly more time-efficient allowing room for more exercise normally used for walking.
As part of a general fitness programme running can also be tailored to help achieve certain aims and personal targets, often going hand in hand with other forms of exercise to help sustain a balanced approach to exercise. Whether running at long-distance with a moderate pace is more your thing or interval running and training over a number of differing speeds and inclines is your preferred option, running offers a flexibility unlike many other sports. As a sport that one can practice, no matter your age or running experience, running can be adjusted to your needs and ability and its consistent worldwide appeal as a recreational sport can surely be understood given the abundance of health benefits that it continues to generate. Alternatively look at running through carbohydrates or just food in general with carb-loading now part and parcel of preparing for longer runs especially. Clearly the longer you run, the more food your body needs to produce enough energy to help complete a longer run and consequently the more food you can guiltlessly eat – enough of an incentive for me to go on a long run anyway!
Find your competitive edge – set your own targets and overcome your challenges
If you are looking for a little more productivity in your free-time and something a little different to the mundane day to day challenges of trying to watch a full box set on Netflix in a certain number of days or you wish to achieve some degree of success in real life rather than on a video game, then running is a perfect option for you. For what may seem and can be a very easy and care-free activity and form of exercise, running can be a useful way of setting yourself challenges, targets and deadlines and for me, continues to be one of the main sources of motivation to keep in shape. With the help of digital applications like the NHS Couch to 5km, numerous running podcasts and blogs by runners available currently as well as popular charity events such as the Sport Relief Mile or the British Heart Foundation monthly marathon challenge, in comparison to to the past never has it been easier than at present to either start completely from scratch or to turn those strides into giant leaps and run higher, further and for longer.
As a self-confessed victim of the running bug, it really is quite striking just how quickly something that starts off as a hobby with a few targets to help keep you on the straight and narrow, quickly becomes a central part of your life. For me it was an annual 5km Santa Run combined with raising money for charity which initially pushed me that bit further in the gym to gradually turn 1km into 5km over the course of a few months. After finishing the 5km Santa Run in a time much to my surprise and much quicker than I had done in the gym previously, I felt somewhat lost going back to the gym without a target or a date to aim towards and before I knew it I was already searching upcoming 10km runs in the local area. Several 10km runs later came my first half-marathon just under a year ago, coinciding with a challenging New Year resolution for 2016 to run my first marathon. This year for me personally, going from strength to strength was most definitely a marathon and not a sprint, improving monthly before running my first marathon of 2016 in April, alongside using other runs with a similar competitive edge to help build up to an eventual 26 miles. Without setting such challenges, I am not quite sure whether I would continue to feel as energetic or active and whether or not I would have continued to keep through running. Therefore try not to limit your challenges, instead challenge your limits.
Everywhere you go, you can always take your running trainers with you
Finally the joy of running compared to many sports is that it can be enjoyed just about anywhere! Whether you prefer running outdoors in the open air or behind closed doors on a treadmill inside a gym, running is a sport that can be practiced and enjoyed anywhere, any time. Unlike scheduled fitness classes and specific times set that a sports club may use to practice, with running there is complete flexibility and given you have the right equipment then you are of course more than capable of running to a distance and a time that best fits within your schedule. For those who suggest they may not have the time, it is with the right motivation very easy to make up the time needed for a run with a 5km or 10km perhaps only taking the same amount of time required for an episode of your favourite series in an evening.
Additionally if you are low on money, running too can be an affordable activity to get into and one which reaps its rewards in the long run. Likewise if you travel away with work regularly or miss exercising during a time away from your local gym, simply take your sports clothes and running shoes with you and you are literally on your way. With modern technology, just like you can lost in a good book, I firmly believe that you can also get lost (both figuratively and I guess literally) in a good run. Applications such as MapMyRun, Apple Fitness or the Nike+ as well as the numerous amount of GPS hi-tech watches currently on the market, can all allow you to both plan and track your running route better than ever before.
No route has to be the same and whether you run for 5 minutes, 5km or 5 miles, please take the opportunity to explore your surroundings through running. The amount of shops, bars, places of interest or just beautiful views that I have found through running tends to grow every time I run and whilst I enjoy both running in a gym as well as outdoors, nothing beats going further and further on the map and realising just how far you have ran on a map as opposed to seeing digits on a screen or treadmill. Your perception of distance consequently begins to change and this can have a wider impact on your life as a whole! Therefore if you have got the right mindset and the correct and proper running attire, go and find yourself a quiet country park, a straight and direct route or a tour that takes in the sights of your local area and get running – you certainly will not regret it!