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Health/Fitness Blog: Run Your Way to a Fit Bod

Many people loathe running for exercise.  I personally think it stems from our high school days when we were forced to run for fitness testing.  The State of Illinois is intense about their physical education classes, so much so that it has made it extremely difficult for many kids to enjoy running by choice. 

I’m not going to lie, I was that girl who would get a note to get out of gym when running, on account of my asthma.  Sure, I may have asthma, but not to the degree where I cannot run.  I just despised running.  When I got to college, however, things changed.  I wasn’t dancing three hours a day; instead, I was eating unhealthy foods and barely exercising.  One day, I decided to start using the Campus Recreation centers to help me feel better in my own skin.  It took me an entire semester to learn that I could use the elliptical for two hours and not gain the same feeling of accomplishment I had from running for half an hour. You’re thinking, “I’m not a runner, I just can’t do it.”  But hey, neither was I!

You can train your body to do anything.  I am not encouraging you to go out and run five miles right now, but you can start by getting your body more used to running.  First, you need to decide if you will be running inside or outside.  Some people claim that running outside is harder on your knees, you have to put up with weather elements, and deal with the uneven ground surface. Many people opt for running inside on the track or treadmill for those reasons. If you are going to run inside, I would recommend running on the track because it forces you to work harder to propel your body forward.  If you were to give me the option, I would always choose to run outside though.  Not only do I get a constantly changing view, but running with the wind in your hair is the most liberating feeling. 
Once you’ve decided your location, I would recommend starting on a short run for say, ten minutes.  It doesn’t have to be anything long, but continue to do this so your body gets used to the feeling of running on a regular basis.  As you feel more comfortable and it gets easier to do, increase your time by five minutes.
It is extremely important to have a cool down.  After you have completed your run, make sure you walk for about ten minutes after to allow your body to recuperate.  Whatever you do, do NOT stop moving! It is an unhealthy way for your heart to go back to its normal heart rate.  Also, make sure you stretch afterwards so you are not in pain later.

Before you know it, you will be running races.  Start with a 5K, then try a 10K, then a half marathon, and before you know it, you’re running a marathon!  Once you feel ready, you can go to www.runningintheusa.com to look up races near you.  On April 27th,  the Illinois marathon will be hosted in Champaign. It is offered in a variety of distances.  Follow these steps and it will only be a matter of time before you’re running like the women in the Nike commercials.

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