By Nicque Robinson
I remember growing up thinking this about running: "bleh." My mom was a marathon freak...like, she was crazy serious about it. The whole family would support her by getting up every other day at 5 in the morning to go to the park while she ran about 6-10 miles at a time. Then, she'd sign up for the Houston Marathon every year and we'd be downtown all day waiting for her to finish. I always wondered how boring it was...just, running...for hours and hours at a time. I thought she was a little crazy.
But you know what, today, my mom is turning 51 and people regularly mistake her for being about 35-40. We can borrow and lend each other's clothes without either of us looking weird or not seeming to dress for our age. The part of her health that isn't just lucky Latina genes is definitely at least partly due to her running for all those years. And yes, I eventually got into it during high school. I got pulled to run cross country in the middle of my senior year and ended up winning 6th in district. My talented teammate, Diamond Dixon, eventually went on to win gold in the Olympics.
Running is a great habit to get into. Like most of the activities I write about, it's healthy for your heart, which is the most important organ in your health. Though there's some technique to it, it's the simplest workout you can do and one of the most beneficial. While you use weights and other routines to tone/strengthen up, running burns off the extra fat. I think that you should always include running in your exercise routine.
If you're just starting to run, make sure you get some really good shoes that are made specifically for running. They may run a little pricey, but they are worth it. Otherwise, you won't reach your maximum speed and your feet will hate you.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS stretch before and after. Like I've said before, cramps are not your friend. Stretch the right parts: calves, thighs, groin, back, etc.
Start hydrating before you run. When you're done with the workout and your tired, your body will naturally want water. As you keep running, you may find yourself wanting to drink water more than you want to drink anything else. Keep up that habit, but also use Gatorade to put back the salts that your body sweats out. After a hard run, you may see white specks on your arm that look like sleepies from your eye. That's actual salt coming out of your body. You've got to remember to put it back.
Don't over-exert yourself. It's good to push your body, but know the difference between pushing through the pain and ignoring the feeling that you're going to pass out.
Create a workout that's good for you based on how advanced you are. Try running a mile first. If you can't run it straight, try going at a slower pace. If you still can't finish without stopping, do intervals: Run 1/10 and then walk 1/10 and keep repeating until you make the mile. Intervals are great to include in your running workout. They force your body adjust to different speeds. I usually jog 1/10 and then sprint 1/10.
Set goals for yourself. They can be weekly, monthly or yearly. Mine is to do a 5k straight every week and a marathon every year. Eventually, I want to be able to finish an Iron Man and definitely a Spartan Race. I'll start writing about that when I start training for it.
Here are my favorite running songs to get you into the zone!
This is How a Heart Breaks -Rob Thomas
Gonna Fly Now - Rocky
You Need Me I Don't Need You - Ed Sheeran
Step it Out Mary-the High Kings
Winner - Justin Timberlake
You're the Best - Joe Esposito
Can't Hold Us - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The Anthem - Good Charlotte
Do What U Want - Lady Gaga
Applause - Lady Gaga
Dark Horse - Katy Perry
Carry Out - Justin Timberlake
Church - T.I.
Hot Tottie - Usher
All the Small Things - Blink 182
You Can't Take Me - Bryan Adams
My Song Know What You Did In The Dark - Fall Out Boy
Alone Together - Fall Out Boy
Stacy's Mom - Fountains of Wayne
In Too Deep - Sum 41
What I've Done - Linkin Park
Money Maker - Ludacris
I hope all this helps you start running the right way. Happy Trails!