Why Do I Run- Part 1*

Tuesday, 1 December 2015, By John McAleer

Why do I run?


"I'm just not a runner." Or, "I could never be a runner".

I've heard these phrases countless times.

 

Well if you've got two legs and can read this blog, you are a member of the best endurance running species on the planet.

During our evolution, the moment we stood up on two legs and our lungs were no longer being squeezed by our front legs, our every stride gave us the ability to continue breathing under long sustained efforts and the figurative and literal "leg up" on the other mammals.

 

We might not be anywhere near the fastest, but from point to point across a great distance, we can't be beaten. The 100 mile running race started as a horse race, until one year a man's horse was unable to race so he showed up and ran the whole thing. Next year more showed up and now ultra marathons are a huge global sub culture.


Currently I run 3 days a week, anywhere from 40 to 60kms total distance per week. I got into running because one of my cycling friends at the time got into sprint distance triathlon (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run). Being a 'slightly' competitive person, I immediately wanted to race a half ironman (2k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run). After a few of those I realised how much I loved running and really think swimming, beyond leisurely frolicking at the beach or in the pool, should be saved for escaping sharks and completely avoided at all other costs. But that's just me…

 
Running became my number one. The pounding of the pavement seems to rattle everything loose: my muscles after a hard gym or bike session and my negative or aggressive thoughts always seemed to get bounced out by the time I'm done. If things are particularly stressful I've worked out if you run hard enough and get your heart rate high enough, right on the redline, I lose all capacity to focus on anything at all and there is total silence besides the heart and the lungs. I can think of a few occasions where I have been particularly frustrated and irritable where my wife has requested "you need to go running!" And sure enough I return a mellow version of my former self.


A friend of mine and fellow cyclist who transitioned to running, called running "cycling for the time poor/conscious", after starting a new job and having a kid he didn't have the time for 2-4 hour bike rides a few times a week anymore. But 30mins to 60mins a few times a week is manageable for most.


Time wise you'd be hard pressed to beat running as a cardio workout, I burn approximately 1000 calories per hour when I'm out there on an average run and on a hard run I've done 1000 in 45minutes. Being a high impact activity, when programmed into your week correctly, it's great for strengthening the leg muscles and increasing bone density. So for the mind, the body, and to save yourself some time, you need to start running.

 

How to get started?
The simplest method there is was passed down from my father and his father before him and so on. Well that's slightly exaggerated, but my dad did tell me and I know someone told him. You go outside onto your street, start at the nearest power pole and run to the next one, then walk to the one after that, then run again to the next one and so on. The next week you do the same but this time run two power poles and walk one. Then 3 the next week and off you go. If you need something a bit more structured or if you'd rather run with a group I have a run group on a Wednesday that is aimed at helping people work their way up to or improving their 5k run, some starting with only being able to run for a few minutes, others who can run 5k and and are looking to bring their pace up, we've been having great results and seeing new personal records set almost every week. It's exciting for me to watch their progress and probably twice as exciting for them, as they know just how far they have come!

I highly recommend you combine your running with a structured resistance training program, just like my running group do with me, and you'll not only increase your pace, but you will increase your stability, your power, your recovery and you will in fact find running even easier the stronger you become!

 

Whatever you decide to do, the general rule is not to increase your runs by any more than 10% per week, so if you ran 1 kilometer three times a week then the next week you would run 1.1 kilometers 3 times. This may seem like a slow process but your brain and your cardiovascular capacity tend to develop quicker than your bones, muscles and tendons so whilst you may feel up to doubling it or even tripling it one week, I implore you to stick to this rule of 10% for a long life of injury free running.

 

Please stay tuned to my next few articles I will be posting on running. This is just the basics.

 

- John

 

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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