“Where’s the video camera”?
“Uh . . . the video camera?” I frantically search my memory banks. “Oh my gosh! I left it at the restaurant! Hold this, I’ll go get it.” I handed my backpack off and ran around the corner and down the crowded Thailand street, back to the restaurant we had left 15 minutes prior. And there was the video camera, sitting on the chair. That was a close one.
This is just one example why we should all be able to run. And there are so many other reasons. I’ve used running to get medical help while hiking, to get onto a bus, to catch my dog, to save a kid, and to get back to the office when I locked my keys in the car. I’ve also used running for fun. Playing soccer, participating in races, playing football and basketball, and just goofing off. I also use it for fitness and staying in shape.
With so many good reasons to run, it boggles my mind why so many people “hate it” or say they don’t know how to do it. Actually I think the two are really one and the same. Those haters of running probably only hate it because they suck at it. I don’t care who you are, how old you are, how overweight or out of shape you are, if you can walk, you can most likely learn to run. Once you learn to do it, you might just fall in love with it like I did.
Learning to run is actually easy and it will change your life for the better.
Here are 5 tips to take you into the wonderful world of running.
- Start where you are. If you “can’t run” or don’t already run regularly, do no start out trying to run a mile. Be honest about where you are right now. If you are among the elite of couch potatoes, then start with just standing more often. Then try walking for 5 minutes a day. If you are already walker, then just start with more walking.
- Work on your form first. Let’s assume you are a walker and you can walk for 30 minutes without getting completely out of breath. Walk with your arms swinging at your sides. Keep your torso tall, don’t bend over or hunch forward. Keep your shoulders drawn back and down. Relax your face, neck and the rest of your body. Wait, that doesn’t mean you get to slouch or hunch. You still have to keep your torso upright and tall. Don’t make a fist. Instead imagine that you are holding a blade of grass between your thumb and forefinger. Don’t clench your toes. You may have to consciously think about spreading your toes at first.
- Work on your movement. Your hands should be lower than your heart. Your arms should move forward and back not side to side across your body. Your feet should point forward. As your feet come to the ground, they shouldn’t scuffle or thud. Don’t land hard on your heels. Aim for quiet steps. You may want to spend some time walking barefoot in the grass to see the way your foot was meant to meet the ground. Then imitate that same movement with your shoes on.
- Ease into running. Once you are pretty good at all the form and movement stuff, you are ready to add bits of running. Try running for 10 steps or 10 seconds at a time. The big difference between a “run” and a “walk” is that both feet are off the ground at the same time when you run. It’s not about speed. So don’t push to be fast. Just run easily and slowly for 10 steps then walk for a minute. Build the amount of time or number of steps you run little by little. Over time, add more and more spells of running and shorten those walking breaks. Before you know it, you’ll be running for minutes at a time.
- Breathe. This is KEY. Breathe easily, no huffing, no puffing, no blowing the house down. Breathe in rhythm with your steps. I like to inhale for two steps, exhale for three. You should be able to talk as you run. Try reciting the alphabet as a test. Your breaths should be almost silent. Definitely no gasping. People should not hear you coming because of your heavy breathing. If you are panting or breathing noisily, then either stop and walk, or work on your breathing technique while slowing your pace. Practice breathing into your belly instead of your chest. If you can keep those shoulders down and relaxed, that’s a good thing.
You may or may not have aspirations and dreams to run a marathon. Just knowing you can run when needed or wanted is a huge confidence builder. Your heart, lungs, and muscles will be stronger and healthier. Your body will look and feel better. You’ll be ready to play games of all sorts; to chase dogs, people, or anything else; to save a life; to catch a bus or plane; to escape trouble; or to retrieve your video camera from the restaurant where you left it in Chiang Mai, Thailand.