Running - Getting Started will take anyone, at any level of fitness, into the running lifestyle. Jeff Galloway, a US Olympian in 1972, has helped hundreds of thousands of people make this journey while reducing or eliminating aches, pains, and injuries suffered during most training programs. Jeff developed the Run-Walk-Run method of training, in which running is repeatedly interrupted by walk breaks, and offers a step by step program that is easy to use and easy to understand. Included are also lots of tips on nutrition, staying motivated, building endurance, shoes, stretching and strengthening, and much more.
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Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd.
After having heard the stories of over 300,000 people who have changed their lives for the better by running, it’s clear to me that almost anyone can do this—and it doesn’t have to be painful or extremely tiring. All you need to start this process is desire. Not just the desire to run, but the desire to become part of a positive process of improvement, bringing together the body, mind, and spirit.
There are few experiences in life that bestow the satisfaction we get from running and walking for an extra mile when we didn’t think we could do it. According to the experts, running brings us back to our most primitive roots. It was during the long migrations of walking and running in small groups that primitive man defined and nurtured traits that are uniquely human. As we huff and puff up a hill toward home, we’re probably experiencing the same feelings felt by ancestors more than one million years ago.
One of the big surprises about running is that it is pleasurable. Surely, all of us have met those who tried to run too far or too fast and had a bad experience. But, if you choose to take control over your schedule, slow down the pace, take walk breaks before you need them, and stay on the conservative side, you can avoid the negatives. It may take a few weeks to get it right, but once this happens you’ll receive a treasure trove of rewards from almost every run. The bonding and friendships that are forged on your runs are another special joy. On long runs the more appropriate term is relationships. Practically every runner you’ll meet will welcome you and help you. This can become a problem because you’ll get many different points of view on just about every topic. Again, you are the captain of your ship and can choose which of these paths to take. The information inside this book can steer you more directly to the advice that works. Most of you start to run because something inside pushed or pulled. One of the effects of personal growth is a yearning of the psyche to search for a little challenge.
Running requires a unique mobilization of resources that we all have inside. As we confront the small struggles, we find that there is much more strength than we thought was there.
I want to invite you into the wonderful world of running, but you don’t even need an invitation. When you run, you leave the rules behind and enter a world where you can feel quite free. You can choose how you define running and how you proceed. I hope that you will, on occasion, pass the torch and invite others to join you. Speaking from experience, this provides an enhanced level of growth and satisfaction.
Even if you have your doubts, I ask you to believe that you will do this and to get out on the roads, trails, or treadmills of your world and try. If you do this regularly, in a short time you will glow inside as you realize that you are connecting with all these benefits and more. After 50 years of putting one foot in front of the other, I’m still discovering the benefits and enjoying just about every step along the way.
This book is offered as advice to you, from one runner to another. It is not meant to be medical consultation or scientific fact. For more information in these areas, see a physician or research the medical journals. But above all, laugh and enjoy your runs.
While the physical benefits from running can significantly improve the quality of life, the mental enhancements are amazing.
Many scientists who study the primitive beginnings of humankind believe that before our species was clever enough to make tools and coordinate hunting strategies, our ancestors survived because they covered long distances all day, walking and running to gather food. The endurance walks/runs made our ancient relatives smarter, and according to research, running continues to help us think better, work better, and feel better.
Competing for a limited supply in an increasingly arid climate and lacking speed and strength, our forbearers kept moving, collecting the leftovers that other animals had overlooked or left behind. In the process of pushing on to the next food supply, these primitive predecessors developed the muscle adaptations to cover long distances along with a variety of psychological and spiritual rewards for “going the distance.” So, in the eyes of many experts, humans evolved because they became long-distance athletes. Other specialists in primitive man believe that covering thousands of miles every year in small groups forced the development of human traits like cooperation and mutual support.
What is the evidence that our ancestors ran? Take the Achilles tendon. This is a marvelous mechanical unit which allows humans to move forward very efficiently and quickly, with minimum effort. This degree of sophistication is not needed for walking. Biomechanical experts believe that the Achilles tendon evolved to its advanced design because our early ancestors ran. The proof is pointing to the fact that we were born to walk—and run.
During the period of history when ancient man changed from four legs to two legs (for transportation), the human brain (frontal lobe) developed. Running—even in short segments—revs up this conscious brain improving vitality, attitude, and personal empowerment.
Is running better than walking?
Walking is a great exercise which produces few injuries, while burning calories and building fitness. Once conditioned to recreational walking, one can burn many calories without realizing it. The purpose of this book is to offer walkers and sedentary people a gentle program that can improve the quality of their lives. Here’s how the transition occurred:
At first, the walk was a bit of a challenge to the sedentary body.
Each walk delivered some exertion-related relaxation and inner satisfaction.
But after several weeks or months of regular walking, the walker’s improved fitness level reduced the postwalk rewards.
The walker inserted a few short runs into the daily walks.
The run segments became more frequent.
After the run-walk-run days, the walker felt better than he or she initially felt in the beginning stages of walking.
The walker integrates running into each workout, choosing the amounts of running and walking that work for that day and becomes a runner.
There is no need or goal to run non-stop at any time.
Many walkers start running because they need to squeeze their exercise into a smaller block of time. Often this results from running into a neighbor, co-worker, family member, etc., who was wearing a running T-shirt, or who was running through the neighborhood. The list of benefits from an individual will vary widely. Since I hear them every day from satisfied running “customers,” the following are some of the most common:
Top reasons that walkers switch to running
Running burns twice as many calories as walking the same distance.
Running delivers more relaxation.
Running controls fat much more effectively.
Running leaves one with a better attitude to face the rest of the day.
Running burns the same number of calories in about 30 % of the time.
Running leaves one with a better dose of sustained physical energy.
Running bestows a greater sense of accomplishment—and empowerment.
Running gives one a sense of freedom not delivered by other activities.
As you begin to run, you will discover a wide range of positive feelings and experiences from body, mind, and spirit. This is your body’s way of overcoming the challenges of fatigue, aches, pains, and mental doubt. As you deal with each of these, you tie into the internal strengths that have been part of the human condition from the origin of the species. The result of this gearing up is an afterglow.
A common reaction is that the run cleanses the mind. The rewards just keep on coming, and there are few internal feelings more powerful, or more directly connected to our being, than those that come from running.
While the physical rewards described later are substantial, most long-time runners acknowledge that the psychological ones are unique and more powerful. Every day I hear from runners who have participated in a variety of other life activities. They tell me over and over again that running leaves them feeling better than anything else they do.
If you expect to be swept way into euphoria after every run, you will be disappointed. A very few runners experience this, on a very few runs. For most, there is a feeling of relaxation and enhanced well-being, with increased confidence. Once you get used to these subtle rewards, they become an important and powerful boost to your day. But, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get your version of the runner’s high every day. While a few beginning runners tap into the good feelings from the first day, most new runners, however, experience many peaks and valleys before the rewards become consistent. If a friend seems to enjoy running more than you do, just be patient and observant. By building your base of conditioning and by fine-tuning a few elements, you can enjoy almost every run almost every day.
These hormones are natural pain killers. But, they also have a positive psychological effect, producing a lasting boost that can last for hours after a run. When you start running, internal monitors sense there will be pain and initiate endorphin production to manage it. Many of the good, relaxing, positive attitude effects of a run come from these natural drugs…which are totally legal.
Research shows that running turns on brain circuits that deliver more energy to our life for hours after a run. Before running, many runners experience low energy. After a run, it is very common to feel energized and motivated to cope with the challenges of the day and enjoy leisure time to the maximum.
Running turns on the “good attitude circuit” better than other activities. Attitude research reveals that runners have the highest levels of the positive factors and the lowest levels of the low (depression) factors. After almost every run, you will come away with a better attitude if you pace yourself conservatively and don’t go too far. When in doubt, go slower at the beginning and take more walk breaks.
Covering distance by foot gives one a sense of achievement. This is one of the simple but satisfying rewards that have been passed on by our primitive ancestors. The bottom line is that we feel better about ourselves when we have covered some distance on that day. There is even more enhanced self-esteem in pushing back your current endurance level. As you keep going farther on long runs, you feel an inner glow not experienced in other life activities. The sense of empowerment bestowed by a regular series of longer distance workouts inspires many to make other changes that improve the quality of their lives.
A number of artists have told me that they run because it improves their creative response. It has been known for some time that running is one of the best ways to activate the right side of the executive brain—the intuitive center of creativity. When athletes get into this right brain in a game, race, or match, they say that they are “in the zone.” You can be there, too. If you run at a level of exertion that is within your capabilities, the steady rhythm of the feet will often stimulate brain activity on this right side.
Runners often are surprised that after trying to solve a problem all day long, it is on a run that the solution seems to appear. For example, a runner at work often hits a logical wall when using the rational left side of the brain. While running, the creative right brain works quietly and subconsciously, searching for a way to get done what was needed. Many experts believe that the creative resources of this side of the brain are unlimited. Your intuition or gut instinct is engaged when you shift into the brain’s right hemisphere. As you intuitively run along, you return to some primitive areas up there which have subconscious judgment capabilities and other powers we don’t usually use.
I’ve conditioned my right brain to entertain me. I often start with a current problem or incident I’m trying to resolve. 10 minutes later, the right brain has often taken a portion of the original thought and mixed in a personality of someone saying the words. After about 10 more minutes, there is so much mixing of images and thoughts and association mixed images that I have to laugh.
Laughing is a right brain activity, and so is the series of images. After that, the right brain can send me a mix of various images—some real and some very abstract—without any connection to anything that came before. And on many runs each year, the solution to the original problem just drops out into a conscious thought.
When beginners start running, they expect to be more tired during the day. The vast majority, however, discover that the opposite is true. A run in the morning sets your mind and body for the day. You are energized, with a good attitude to deal with problems and bounce back. Those who run during their lunch hour, when they used to work through lunch, find that they are more productive on the days that they run. Some say that the run forces them to plan better. Others say that the mental circuits turned on by running enhance their lives in so many ways. Various studies on productivity show that runners are between 27 and 38 minutes more productive at work every day.
Friendships and bonding—social fulfillment
For thousands of generations, humans have walked and run together. During these journeys experts believe that many of the positive team-building and caring traits were developed: sharing trust, relying upon one another, and pulling one another through difficult times. These primitive instincts are revisited in almost any group run. Even when running with one other person, you’ll find yourself sharing feelings and emotions you wouldn’t share when sitting down to a cozy lunch. While running under the influence of the right brain, you can bond more closely to your running friends than to many family members who don’t understand what running means to you.
I regularly see runners in their 70s, 80s, and 90s who don’t act their age. When I look closely, the face and skin may give a general indication. But, the vitality, mental energy, and good attitude would indicate an age one ot two decades less than the chronological one. Why is this? In the act of extending endurance, runners maintain a positive mental state. By flooding themselves with endorphins, they are more relaxed and confident. Activation of brain circuits maintain sharpness and energy. By using the muscles regularly and infusing them with oxygen on the run, these senior citizens feel good, have a healthy glow about them, and are physically able to do almost anything they did in their 40s.
A greater sense of personal freedom
Many CEOs and other busy and famous people have told me that the only segments of time during the week when they feel almost totally free is when they are on a run—sometimes with others, but often by themselves. Without a cell phone, pager, boss, or family member around, you can explore the inner parts that are YOU. Longtime runners express this freedom in many ways. This is another way that running promotes a more free way of feeling and thinking.
A primary mission of this book is to help you move into the rewards more directly and easily. You can use this chapter to push you out the door on those days when gravity seems to be greater. Think about the good mental feelings after the run, and you’ll have a “carrot on a stick” to keep you going when you want to quit. There will be times when you’ll need to apply a reward or two as a psychological salve when overall motivation goes down on the hopefully few days when inertia seems overwhelmingly against you. The information and suggestions inside have been forged through 30 years of working with beginners and feedback from over 300,000 who have become runners.
Practically every human being can enjoy the many significant rewards of running. Yes, you can start being a runner now and unlock a continuing stream of rewards which can enrich your life in more ways than I can describe in this book.
You are pulling from resources that are inside you—mind, body, and spirit.
You find yourself becoming more intuitive as the right brain kicks in.
You feel the confidence to grapple with a problem that has not been solved.
You find that you have more internal strength and creativity than you thought.
This enhanced feeling carries on to other areas of life.
Running pushes you to a higher level of physical awareness, stimulating positive activity of the brain at the same time. Whatever time we have on earth, as a runner (even a part-timer), you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy it to the fullest.
The first step in feeling better is the desire to move forward and embrace fitness.
Sure, there are things that can help you and make running easier: shoes, clothing, a training journal, watches, water belts, sun glasses, etc. As a running store owner, I’m very pleased that runners enjoy these items. But, my advice to beginners is to test the waters gently, while focusing six months ahead. In other words, don’t load up on everything you could possibly need for the rest of your running life until you know you like it. Virtually everyone can feel great after and during a run, and that becomes a greater reward than anything you can buy for yourself. In the next chapter, you will see that if you maintain desire for half a year, you are likely to continue running for life and will enjoy it. But…it all starts with desire. One of the liberating aspects of running is the minimal requirements beyond items already owned by most people. In most cases, you can run from your house or office using public streets or pedestrian walkways. You can use ordinary clothing, you don’t need to invest in expensive watches or exercise equipment, and you don’t need to join a club. While running with another person can be motivating, you don’t have to have a partner. Most runners run alone on most of their runs.
A health club
A team of other people
A specific time of the day
A specific uniform
A piece of exercise equipment
Lessons or a “pro” to supervise
You are free to…
Run by yourself
Run from your home, office, or kids’ athletic field
Run when you have time to do so, day or night
Wear what you wish
Leave behind the phone, computer, or beeper
Check with your doctor’s office before you start running. Just tell the doctor or head nurse that you plan to walk with a little jogging with the idea of building up to running and walking every other day.
Note: With the Run-Walk-Run method, there is no goal to ever run non-stop.
Almost every new runner will be given the green light. If your doctor recommends against running, ask why. Since there are so few people who cannot run if they use my liberal walk break formula, I suggest that you get a second opinion if your doctor tells you not to run. Certainly the tiny number of people who should not run have good reasons. But, the best medical advisor is the one who wants you to get physical activity and wants to help you get out there walking and running because it is the most likely way that most people will exercise.
Choosing a doctor
A growing number of general physicians are advocates for fitness. If your doctor is not very supportive, ask the nurses in the office if there is one who might be. The doctors who are physical fitness advocates are very often more positive and energetic.
Ask the staff at local running stores, running club members, or long-term runners. They will usually know of several doctors in your town who runners see when they have a problem.
Doctors tell me that compared with their other patients, runners tend to ask more questions and want to keep themselves in good health. You want a doctor who will welcome this and serve as your health coach, someone who will work with you to avoid injury, sickness, and other health setbacks. Doctors have also told me that runners tend to have fewer bouts with sickness.
Shoes: The primary investment—usually less than $110 and more than $75
Most runners decide wisely to spend a little time on the choice of a good running shoe. After all, shoes are the only real equipment needed. The right shoe can make running easier and reduce blisters, foot fatigue, and injuries. Because there are so many different brands with many different models, shoe shopping can be confusing. The best advice is to get the best advice. Going to a good running store, staffed by helpful and knowledgeable runners, can cut the time required and can usually lead you to a better shoe choice than you would find for yourself. The next section of this book will serve as a guide to getting the best shoe for you.
The clothing thermometer section at the end of this book is a great guide. In the summer, you want to wear light, cool clothing. During cold weather, layers are the best strategy. You don’t have to have the latest techno-garments to run. On most days, an old pair of shorts and a T-shirt are fine. As you get into running, you will find various outfits that make you feel better and motivate you to get in your run even on bad weather days. It is also OK to give yourself a fashionable outfit as a reward for running regularly for several weeks.
The journal is such an important component in running that I have written a chapter about it. By using it to plan ahead and then later to review mistakes, you take a major degree of control over your running future. You’ll find it reinforcing to write down what you did each day and will miss that reinforcement when you skip. Be sure to read the training journal chapter, and you, too, can take control over your running future.
The best place to start is in your neighborhood, especially if there are sidewalks. First priority is safety. Pick a course that is away from car traffic and is in a safe area where crime is unlikely. Variety can be very motivating.
By adjusting the run-walk-run amounts and selecting the right shoe for you, pavement should not give extra shock to the legs or body. A smooth surface, dirt, or gravel path is a preferred surface. But, beware of an uneven surface, especially if you have weak ankles or foot problems.
Don’t run with someone who is faster than you unless they are fully comfortable slowing down to an easy pace that is comfortable for you. It is motivating to run with someone who will go slow enough and take a liberal amount of walking breaks so that you can talk. Share stories, jokes, or problems if you wish, and you’ll bond together in a very positive way. The friendships forged on runs can be the strongest and longest lasting if you’re not huffing and puffing (or puking) from trying to run at a pace that is too fast for you.
You’ll see in the section Setting yourself up for running success that rewards are important at all times. But, rewards can be crucial for most runners in the first three to six weeks. Be sensitive and provide rewards that will keep you motivated and make the running experience a better one (more comfortable shoes, clothes, etc.). Positive reinforcement works! Treating yourself to a smoothie after a run, taking a cool dip in a pool, going out to a special restaurant after a longer run—all of these can reinforce the good habit you are establishing. Of particular benefit is having a snack within 30 minutes of finishing a run that has about 200-300 calories containing 80 % carbohydrate and 20 % protein. The products Accelerade and Endurox R4 are already formulated with this ratio for your convenience and make good rewards.
Write down each of your weekly runs two weeks in advance on your calendar. Sure, you can change if you have to. But by getting the running slot secure, you will be able to plan for your run and make it happen. Pretend that this is an appointment with your boss or your most important client. Actually, you are your most important client!
Motivation to get out the door
The two most common times when runners feel challenged to run are 1) early in the morning and 2) after work. In the motivation section, there are rehearsals for each of these situations. You will find it much easier to be motivated once you experience a regular series of runs that make you feel good. Yes, when you run and walk at the right pace, with the right preparation, you feel better, can relate to others better, and have more energy to enjoy the rest of the day.
More and more runners are using treadmills for at least 50 % of their runs—particularly those who have small children. It is a fact that treadmills tend to tell you that you have gone further or faster than you really have (but usually are not off by more than 10 %). But, if you run on treadmill for the number of minutes assigned at the effort level you are used to (no huffing and puffing), you will get close enough to the training effect you wish. An elevation of 1-3 % will help simulate a foot motion similar to running outside. To ensure that you have run enough miles, feel free to add 10 % to your assigned mileage.
Most runners don’t need to eat before runs that are less than 6 miles. The only exceptions are those with diabetes or severe blood sugar problems. Many runners feel better during a run when they have enjoyed a cup of coffee about an hour before the start. Caffeine engages the central nervous system, which gets all of the systems needed for exercise up and running to capacity very quickly. If your blood sugar is low, which often occurs in the afternoon, it helps to have a snack of about 100-200 calories (about 30 minutes before the run) that is composed of 80 % carbohydrate and 20 % protein. The Accelerade product has been very successful.
The best advice in choosing shoes…is to get the best advice.
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