Happy National Running Day! Today, the world celebrates the love of this amazing form of aerobic exercise. If you currently don’t have a steady exercise routine, running is a great way to start being more active. It can be done anywhere and at any time of the day, and only requires a good pair of sneakers!
Wondering why is running so great for you? Consider the following…
- It’s a cardiovascular champion! Running will have your heart beating fast in no time. It strengthens the heart and increases the capacity of blood circulation.
- You’ll burn some serious calories. Minute for minute, running is one of the best calorie burners out there. A 160 pound person will burn about 600 calories running for an hour at 5mph. This isn’t a super speedy sprint – 5mph equates to 12 minute miles, a pretty comfortable pace that beginners can aspire to reach.
- It helps your bones and muscles. Weight bearing exercises like running help put resistance on our bones, and can thus maintain their strength of your bones. Running also increases the strength of the muscles in your legs, hips, and core.
- There’s quick adaptations (at the beginning, at least!). You will be amazed at how quickly your body can adapt to running when you get started. No doubt it will be tough at first – you might feel your lungs burning a little bit, your muscles might ache, or you might find you have a little back ache from getting used to the posture for running. But your body will quickly experience what’s called ‘neuromuscular adaptations’ that help you become more adept at finding a good rhythm for you. Soon things you once deemed “impossible” will be in the “possible” realm.
- Runner’s high! There’s truth to this common phrase. Exercise releases endorphins and can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Plus, tackling running goals that you set for yourself can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
So today, I challenge you to get out there and run! It might be for a half mile or it might be for 5 miles – just get out there and do what you can. If you’ve never run before, start by alternating small segments of running with longer segments of walking. As you continue to exercise regularly in the future, you can drop the amount of time walking and increase the amount of time running.
Yesterday, I did my first half marathon of the season – the Great Bay Half Marathon in Newmarket, New Hampshire. I was lucky enough to score a deal on Active Schwaggle, so I ended up only paying half price for this half! By the way, if you love road racing and don’t check Schwaggle – do it! It’s like a Groupon, but for athletic products and races. I’ve gotten several great deals on here for races.
Anyway – I was really excited to try this race as the website boasts the “roller coaster like hills.” I knew it’d be a challenging course, but that’s part of the fun! I convinced my friend Katie to sign up with me – it was her first half marathon, so kudos to her on tackling this challenge!
Katie and me before the race!
I was happy the race start time was later at 11AM, since this gave us time to make the 2 hour drive up to New Hampshire without having to wake up super early. We got up there around 10:15, and I was happy that Terry (my fiancé) was with me so he could drop me off to get my race number and then take care of figuring out the parking.
The weather at the start time was great. It was around 50 degrees and sunny. The clouds took over midway through the race, so it got a little chilly but still comfortable.
The course was really cool – from miles 4 to 5.5ish, we ran along a dirt road through the woods which was very scenic. Later in the course, we ran around the coastline with more pretty views. There were some local people along the course playing music, and at the loop around mile 11 there were bellydancers! The race finished in downtown Newmarket, with lots of spectators at the finish line.
Around mile 9!
I finished the race in 2:42 – one of my slower half marathon times, and nowhere near my PR, but I was pretty happy with it considering the crazy hills! Plus, I felt really great throughout the race. Just enjoyed the scenery and ran comfortably. And Katie finished in 2:15 – a great time for her first race!
After the race, Terry and I went across the street for the free post-race Smuttynose beers! I enjoyed my drink and we hung out for a while before heading home.
An awesome day and race – makes me look forward to all the other races we have this season!
Post race beer!
Yesterday, I had such a great day at the gym. I walked in feeling quite energized for a Saturday morning, and did a warm up on the elliptical, followed by a 3 mile run on the treadmill, then wrapped up with some boxing. I ran those 3 miles faster than I have in all of this past year – what a great accomplishment!
Many days at the gym don’t necessarily go like this though. Some days, it’s hard to find the motivation to get out there and kick butt. You’re tired, you want to just lounge at home, you need to run errands – and the list could go on and on. For those days when you aren’t feeling motivated, try one of these tips:
Tips for when this looks like torture!
Enlist the help of a friend or coworker who loves exercising, and set up times to work out together. Accountability and friendship are great tools in sticking to your goals. Plus, if you’re competitive you may find you push yourself more when you’re exercising with a partner.
10 minute rule
Put on your workout clothes and sneakers and commit to doing just 10 minutes. If you feel like going home after that, go ahead. But most of the time, you’ll see the hardest part was just getting out the door – once you’re there, you’ll probably want to continue.
Racing to the finish
Sign up to train for a road race, triathlon, or some other type of event. Having a goal to work towards can help you stick to your schedule.
Put some new music on your I-pod – those upbeat tracks can help you push through! A few personal favorites: “Heart of a Champion” by Nelly, “Bossy” by Kelis, “Break my bank” by New Boyz.
Switch it up
If you feel like boredom is contributing to a lack of motivation, consider switching up your routine. If you normally run indoors, get outside and explore your neighborhood. If you are always on the elliptical, change it up and try a spin class.
Make a deal with yourself – check off 10 more workouts, and treat yourself to that new workout tank top or some compression socks.
Lastly, remember to pay attention to your body. If you've been training hard consistently and really don't feel like working out, it may be your body's way of telling you to rest. Take a day or two off, then start fresh again.
In the past two years, I discovered my own passion for endurance sports. I’ve completed half and full marathons, triathlons, and am training for a 100 mile bike ride and Olympic distance triathlon in the spring. Aside from the physical training that goes into endurance sports, it’s very important to fuel your body properly. Eating right during the training period helps your body adapt to your exercise regimen and recover properly, preparing your for your best race. Here are a few nutrition tips to consider as you are training:
Choose carbohydrate rich foods
Carbohydrates are essential to an endurance athlete’s diet. No low carb plans here – your body stores carbohydrate as glycogen in your muscles, which is used for fuel during exercise. In general, about 55%-65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Most carbohydrates on an everyday basis should come from whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice, or whole wheat bread. Fill your plate with fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables pack a huge nutritional punch. They contain vitamins and minerals for optimal body function, fiber for healthy digestion, and additional water to support hydration. Fruits and certain vegetables also provide carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. Try to make half your plate fruits and veggies. Drink up (water that is)!
Hydration ensures optimal performance during training runs and races. Just 3% dehydration can cause impaired performance – and often by the time you are feeling very thirsty, you can already be dehydrated. The Institute of Medicine recommends 2.2 liters and 3 liters of fluid intake for women and men, respectively. This includes fluid from water as well as other beverages like milk and juice. Use sports drinks and gels appropriately
Many people are confused about when to use water and when to use sports drinks. A good rule of thumb is to use plain water if you’re exercising less than an hour. If you’re planning to exercise longer than an hour, a sports drink with carbohydrate and electrolytes (or water with sports gels) are good choices.
For more nutrition information specific to your diet and race training schedule, please consider purchasing nutrition counseling
or our total race package
to help you succeed with whatever endurance pursuit you have in mind!