Running is an activity that millions of people participate in as a way to get in shape or stay in shape. Some people run competitively or solely for the “runner’s high.” Before I start talking about running though, I would like to address many of the issues with it so that you can take precautions before you injure yourself. Dr. Weil says, “Running traumatizes the body, especially joints in the legs, knees, and back, as well as the kidneys.” (Dr. Weil’s article on running.) Running is something that can lead to osteoarthritis, or joint damage in other words, as it is a high impact form of cardio. Running can also lead to breast sag, which is caused by the bouncing of breasts as women run. Lastly, runners are much more likely to get skin cancer, as runners often sweat off their sunscreen and because high-intensity training can weaken your immune system. As a precaution to osteoarthritis, it is advised that you never run on concrete. Optimally, you would want to run on either dirt paths or on cinder tracks. To minimize breast sag caused by running, sports bras are actually very effective as they reduce bouncing by 78%. (Osteoarthritis and Skin Sag Source.)
Now, enough with the scary stuff, let’s get on to talking about how to make running easier!
Take vitamins. I believe that this is the most important thing to improve how much you get out of a work out and how quickly and effectively you recover. The difference that vitamins make is definitely noticeable. If you want to run, first make sure that you’re also getting sleep. Sleep is essential to recovery, so don’t sacrifice sleep for running. Find a way to fit both into your routine while trying to sleep at least 8 hours a night. It is essential that you make sure to eat iron. Without sufficient iron in your diet, you will constantly feel tired and drained. Some good sources of iron are red meats, eggs, kidney beans, and fish.
It is important to be progressive in your running routine. If you try to push yourself too hard, it is likely that you will injure yourself, as your body is not yet used to training at that intensity. Also, try to breathe slowly when you run. Breathing hard is one of the biggest mistakes that people who are new to running make. Breathing quickly does not allow all of the CO2 to exit your lings. Stay hydrated. Speed up the second half of your run and try to beat the time from the first half of your run. Use this to motivate yourself. Push your chest forward when you run to avoid slouching shoulders.Repeat mantras to yourself to motivate yourself to keep going. Most importantly, run on your forefoot (the front ball of your foot below your toes) as this will reduce the impact on your joints.
Take a cold bath after you run. Even if you can only bare it for five minutes, you will feel more than rewarded. Whereas taking a hot bath after a workout can cause your muscle tears to bleed out, a cold bath flushes the lactic acid out of your muscle, effectively reducing soreness.
Squatting is advisable for improving your running form and increasing the stability and mobility of your joints. Squatting will also give you more power in your legs which may allow you to run faster.
Set new goals. This will keep you from plateauing in your improvement. Change your routes. Some routes put more pressure on one leg than the other and cause disproportionate strength. Keep a record of your running. This way, you can see your progress and set new goals. Now get on your sneakers and go run!