Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nice and easy does it: A runner's advice

I was reading in one of the papers the other day—and I can't help but do that as newspaper advertising is how I earn me bread 'n' butter—that Nike (I think) has produced a television commercial in which a runner becomes exhausted and throws up. Gross? Well, sure, but the point the company—if it was Nike—was trying to make was this: Just do it, but don't over-do it.
Apparently, 38% of Britons admitted that they were scared to take up running because they thought it would be painful. My God, what a load of morons. Can someone tell me why there's this big perception that, in order to run, you must act like you're caught in a monsoon? Why go all-out if you're not used to running?
Let me put it this way: If you're not used to swimming, do you start off by doing eight consecutive laps of furious butterflies, à la Mark Spitz? Of course not, you'd have to have the lifeguard rescue you before you drowned! If you're an amateur at ice-skating, do you push off onto the ice thinking you're Sonia Henie? Of course you don't! So why on earth would anyone assume that, to begin running, they must suddenly morph into Joan Benoit Samuelson?
I am a seasoned runner of 23 years myself (began at the age of 14), and even I need to work up to running again after time off. I have had injuries which forced me to take it easy. I can only burn up the pavement (1) when I'm feeling absolutely healthy and (2) I've had a load of training under my belt. To become a runner, you should do only a half-mile at a pace that's comfortable. Gradually, but surely, you will be able to run longer and faster the more you train. But you must be dedicated. Once a week won't cut it. Every day should be your goal. Naturally, aching legs (at first) or inclement weather may cause you to take a day off here and there, but the saying is true: No pain, no gain. It's the only way to become a runner, to work those legs until they're used to it.
But, high up on the list of don'ts, if you've never run before: Don't go for a two-mile sprint and think "Gosh, running's hard." No. More a case of stupidity is incurable, perhaps.
I encourage everyone to take up running. It's fun, you need only to invest in a good pair of sneakers (a pair of good Saucony runners cost me only $57) and some suitable clothes. It is a real calorie burner at 18 calories per minute (swimming is a distant second at only 10 per minute!)
But, heed the commercial's advice: take it slow and easy at first. Ease yourself into becoming the runner you want to be. There is no other way.


East of Eden said...

I already know that running will kill me--thanks to my bad joints. So, I walk, and walk and walk. But like you said, I didn't just pick this up and go, I started out slow and have increased my walks as my body has adjusted to the work.

John said...

I was never a long distance runner, mainly a sprinter. Although I like walking, in-line skating and biking. I can take my bike out all day and ride for eight or more hours if I want to. Dunno, running is not my thing.

^.-/\/ Peromyscus

Abel said...

Brits have the same attitude of Running as Americans. Silly people. This post was dead on.