A Newbie's Guide to Starting Running
For some reason, about 2 weeks ago (give or take a few days) I decided to try my hand at running long distances. To be completely honest, I've never liked running. I could physically DO it decently fast (I ran sprints in school track teams) but I never particularly liked it. I just ran track because I was fast, got asked to, and I like winning...and fervently turned down any attempts made by coaches trying to get me to join the XC (cross country) teams. Hell No...endurance running has never been fun for me, not to mention I've had exercise induced asthma since I've been 11.
So I have no idea what came over me not too long ago to put on my most minimalist of trail running shoes (that I usually use for hiking), open the front door, and just go. I think part of it was realizing that very soon, I'll be training people in the art of physical fitness. It would feel hypocritical to call myself a decent trainer when I knew deep down I hate running and had never gone more than a couple miles before stopping. So I laced up and decided to jog the 1.5 mile loop I usually walk my dog on around the neighborhood. It went alright...though I haven't been a runner for long I was at least still in shape from the amount of hiking, climbing, lifting, and spinning I do...so the form wasn't amazing, I wasn't the fastest, but I finished. The second day I tried again, this time 2 loops (3 miles). Third day, same thing, 2 loops, 3 miles...kept on like that almost every day and next thing I know by this week it went from me "getting my run over with" to me looking forward to it.
Two days ago after a day of partying, too much beer, and unhealthy food it was night time when I got home. I decided to lace up and go on a light jog (it's become a habit already)...2 laps became 3, 3 became 4...I finally got that runners high (endorphin and serotonin rush in the brain) I've heard people talk about. It was euphoric, and amazing, and made me feel like I could run forever. If only my legs would let me. I ended up doing 4 laps...6 miles that day, and mentally craving more by the end of it. I was NOT expecting such a drastic mental shift so fast. What started as just a way to relate to/ understand training clients who were runners or wanted to run, quickly became an extremely enjoyable pastime with a ripple effect of awesomeness that spilled over to other areas of my life. I absolutely love it.
I did expect maybe some slight physical changes, but not much, since I hike ~10 miles a week anyway. Even though it's still early in the (running) game I'm already noticing a tighter core, tinier waist, and more solid thighs. It's the mental effects that really have me hooked though. As a lifelong insomniac on the days I run I actually can sleep somewhat decently, without a sleep aid. I'm strangely more energetic (I researched why, exercise actually provides us with more potential energy on a cellular level - interesting stuff, but that's another post altogether :) ), more productive, have better posture (this comes with watching your form and correcting problems in it as you run), in a happy and relaxed mood all the time, and I just all-around feel healthier. It even helps with ADHD symptoms and makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time (probably because running forces you to concentrate on one thing).
The best physical adaptation was just that: feeling and seeing my body adapt to endurance running, actually being able to do distances and terrain I never thought I could before. A couple short weeks ago I was definitely in shape, but not a runner by any stretch of the imagination. That first 1.5 mile loop burned, and sucked, and included a little walking because I couldn't jog it all in one go. Yesterday I ran 9 miles, and instead of wishing it was over the whole time I loved every minute of it. That's a big leap in just 2 short weeks. According to most fitness literature, it takes about 4-6 weeks to see results...so there is more awesomeness to come. My ultimate running goal is to be able to trail-run Mt Wilson to the observatory (about 8 miles of straight uphill mountain running).
I never thought I'd be saying this, but if you have ever had any curiosity about running...try it. Running does a body good, and it's cheaper than therapy. Put on your most appropriate shoes and gear, play your favorite music that gets your blood pumping, and get outside. See what you're made of...you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.