For me the answer came mid October 2012.
A few weeks earlier whilst at an amazing event, featuring Anthony Robbins, I came to a conclusion, that my physical fitness is very poor. Not that I was unable to move, but the energy levels were low.
My work, which entails different shift patterns, does not help in getting proper sleep. However, even getting seven to eight hours sleep did not give me sufficient energy to be active all day.
My first step was to join the gym which I did. Unknowingly, I was on my way from couch potato to 5k. In the meantime, I came across a book by Stu Mittleman, ‘Slow Burn‘, and that’s where the story starts.
Myths About Running
The main reasons people don’t run is the conception that it takes long and is boring.
Let’s start with the time issue. Is 90 minutes long? Most people when they go to the gym tend to spend 90 minutes to 2 hours there. However, with running, 90 minutes per WEEK is a great start. All you need is 30-40 minutes, 3-4 times per week to get the full benefits from it.
The 30-40 minutes includes the warm up and the warm down. There are those who will argue, that it takes at least 30 minutes for your body to tap into its resources before you start benefiting from the exercise but that is not true, provided you will do it properly.
Boring? Sitting idle at home is boring. If you choose to run outside, take a good look around you, enjoy the surroundings, take new routes, listen to some music or audiobooks. Take some time for yourself and your thoughts – you’ll be amazed the ideas you will start coming up with. If running inside in the gym, there too, you can listen to music or audiobooks, or watch TV. To make things even more interesting, download yourself an app (dozens to chose from). You will be able to keep track of your activity, share and compare with friends and set yourself challenges. And if you have a bit of a competitive spirit (as I do), the app will help to push you farther.
Speed will come with time, start slow and keep slow. One of the most important factors is your heart rate. I will not get into the details, those you can read up on in “Slow Burn“. Just stick to the following. If going for 30-40 minute run, start with 6-7 minute walk. Do it at a slightly faster pace than your regular walk (literally 0.1-0.2mph / 0.2-0.3kmph faster). As you walk focus on your breathing. Take long deep breaths and slowly release them. Once you are done your warmup, start your jog/run. Again, the speed will only increase by 0.3-0.5mph / 0.5-0.8kmph. Depending on how much time you’ve set yourself for the run, continue running until there is 6-7 minutes remaining. For those 6-7 minutes, do the same as you have done at the start, a fast paced walk. This will help all the cells which have opened up during your run to close slowly, leaving you feeling refreshed. Everyone will run at a different pace, hence I am not suggesting any speeds. Make sure you are comfortable with your pace. You should be able to freely take in the surroundings. If you feel short of breath, or start breathing quickly, you are running too fast. Slow down. If needs be, go back to the fast walk for a few minutes before running again.
30 minutes too long at the beginning? Do 25! But get into the rhythm 3-4 times per week. Once you get going, after 5-7 times, you will find it very easy to keep things up. One more piece of advice – do not go more than 3 days without running, you will fall out of rhythm. If you do have a longer break, start things slow again for the first 2 runs. How about trying from couch potato ->5k? Click here for more details of couch 5k training plan.
Source of Energy
Where does the energy come from? Fat! By following this method, you are tapping into your fat reserves (which for everyone are very abundant). Keeping at a low heart rate, your body will be using the energy from fat to fuel your run instead of sugar. So don’t drink any energy drinks before or whilst running – you don’t need them! Water, only water is needed. As opposed to popular belief, you will tap into the energy stored in fat after about 12-15 minutes from the start of your exercise, hence I recommend to go on for 30 minutes (that way you are tapped into fat reserves for about 10 minutes). More good news! Once your body gets used to finding energy in fat, it will start revisiting this source more often, even when you are not running, side effect being WEIGHT LOSS! It’s the best way to lose weight.
This is why after your workout you will have more energy than at the start, and it will last the whole day. No other exercise will give you this in such an easy way.
Running brings many more benefits and is one of the most natural human motions.
That’s it. Running simplified. Stick to the above and you will find energy and pleasure in running, as I have done, as my wife has and as so many of my friends have (even those who took months to take their first step).
Slow Burn by Stu Mittleman – Book Review
From Couch – 5k Brief Overview