When the Small City team asked me to write a guest article for their Fitness Section I knew immediately what I wanted to do; I've been a personal trainer and avid running fan for years.
It would be easy to simply encourage you to run and say it’s a brilliant form of exercise, and I’m sure that you’d agree. However for many people, running can actually feel quite hard and ‘enjoyment’ can often come from the moment the run finishes! What if there was an easier way to run? A way that we can find running more pleasurable and experience the buzz that we hear everyone talk about?
The secret is focusing on how we feel when we run. It seems fairly natural that when we run, we go from point to point or a lap around the inch. We simply focus on completing the task or run as hard as we can, usually trying to beat our previous time. What you read usually talks about posture, location or many other things except how we should feel when we run. Have you ever found yourself out running with a pal and you’ve barely spoken to one another on the way round apart from “that’s great, same time next week?”. If you recognise yourself there, you’re not alone. The majority of the population do exactly the same.
What if we were to slow down and actually be able to talk while we run? What if we were able to share stories on the way round with a friend without gasping for air every two words and feel like our lungs are going to explode? Quite often our intensity is too high for us and we end up running at a pace we feel we should be doing rather than what we actually should be. Imagine you felt good all the way round a run and didn’t have to slow down and walk for a bit. A good rule would be to be able to talk in sentences between breaths or sing the line of a song (out loud if you want!) between breaths. Once you’re able to slow down, that’s when the magic happens.
We all know how running can help us towards losing weight but it can also have a profound effect on our wellbeing. Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? If you’ve got unresolved issues at work or stress in another area of life try to create some time to go for a run. It’s usually unresolved matters that will wake us up in the night and so a gentle run will help us be able to process everything and end the day relaxed. Running can be useful to help with deep emotional issues such as death of a loved one or the end of a relationship and has been well documented in helping those who suffer from depression.
It is when we’re able to get the pace right that being able to go further becomes much more achievable. You don’t have to run a marathon but being able to go a little bit further than the week before can have a positive effect on your fitness as well as give you a boost mentally, a sense of achievement that you may not always get from a workout at the gym or in any other activity.
Running doesn’t have to be a solo activity either. We can go out running with friends or colleagues or join a running club where you will be able to get the support from other like-minded people. Another option is to go to Parkrun. Parkrun is a free event every Saturday in most cities across the country and is fast becoming a major part of the community. This is a run where it doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow, it’s all about participation and a wonderful place to make new friends as well as improve your running.
Let’s try a run and this time focus simply on feeling comfortable when we run and nothing else and see what happens. You could just start to enjoy it more, possibly more than you ever thought you might do.
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Foundation trustee Charlie Gallagher recently handed over a £2000 cheque to Academy head of youth development Alistair Stevenson.
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