Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Running 101

Always wanted to try running? Go for it: It's a great way to boost your workout when you've reached a rut, and it's fun! Tawni never thought she could run a marathon. In fact she never thought she could run a single stride. "It never occurred to me," she recalls. "I thought I was too fat." Tawni, a 33-year-old San Franciscan, tried one fad diet after another. But it wasn't until 10 years ago that she began to add consistent exercise to her regimen. "Before that I was sitting on my butt," she confesses. "Domino's Pizza was on my speed dial. That's not a good sign." She started on the road to fitness the way most women do: by walking. But after about a year, she started thinking she needed something more. One day she heard some friends talking about running on the treadmill at 4 miles an hour. "That was about how fast I was walking," Tawni says. "It had never occurred to me to run. I remember a light bulb turning on in my head." She decided to pick up the pace, and immediately felt the difference. That was three years and two marathons ago. Tawni has transformed her life, and her figure, through running. And she's not alone: Participation in running events — from the 5K race (3.1 miles) to the marathon (26.2 miles) — has grown steadily over the years. Many declare we are in the midst of a second running boom, and, unlike the original boom in the 1970s, this one isn't fueled by middle-age men emulating Olympians, but by middle-age women inspired by their new health. Instead of running for competition or medals, today's runner is more likely to run for health, weight maintenance, self-confidence and fun. They've discovered what researchers have confirmed: Running is one of the best ways to burn calories and strengthen your cardiovascular system. It can also help lower the risk of many diseases, including breast cancer, stroke, and high blood pressure. And it can help boost levels of self-esteem and reduce stress. Of course, if you're a walker, these statistics are no reason to abandon walking, especially since the above benefits apply to you as well. But running can give you an exercise intensity boost. Ready, set, go Get an OK from your doctor before you begin. You'll need precious few things: •Comfortable, light shorts •A T-shirt •A supportive bra •Good shoes. You don't have to buy the most expensive pair in the store, but plan to invest in supportive, stable shoes that can carry you for a mile or more. Shop at a specialty store, or at least where the salespeople are knowledgeable and can help you find the right pair Shoes laced? Before you give running a try, work up to a point when you can walk briskly for 30 minutes nonstop. The idea here is to gradually progress from walking/running to running. Don't worry about speed: Running is not sprinting. It is not done at a breathless, my-heart-is-going-to-explode-at-any-minute pace. But it is more demanding, especially at first, than many other forms of aerobic activity. Just try to maintain a conversational pace (meaning that you can carry on a conversation while you run). Be conscious of proper running form: •Look ahead as you run, not at the ground (this will help you maintain good posture) •Keep your upper body upright. Don't slouch •Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle. Your arm swing should extend from about the hip up to the middle of the chest. This will help keep you from getting too much side-to-side motion in your stride, a common problem among beginning female runners Run together One of the best ways to ensure the success of your running regimen is to run with someone else. Safety lies in numbers, plus, a running buddy can provide motivation and inspiration. Remember: It's not just about losing weight, it's about gaining insight. It's not only about building a stronger heart, it also builds a stronger character. Particularly at first, running takes discipline and patience. But once you hit your stride, you won't look back. Article courtesy of Weight Watchers

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