Feel the Runner’s High

Running is one of the best forms of aerobic conditioning for your heart and lungs. It can significantly increase your metabolic rate and the amount of calories you burn, leading to loss of excess body fat. Running is also beneficial for slowing down the aging process. Those who run regularly are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss due to the body’s positive response to additional physical demands.

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Running can also have many psychological benefits. Most runners typically report being happier and feeling less stressed from the grind of daily life. Why? Because regular exercise has the ability to alter mood, attributable to a surge in hormones called endorphins. These hormones create a sense of euphoria often referred to as a “runner’s high” and can result in an improvement in mood.

Here are some great tips, courtesy of running coach Chipper Robinson from Running on the Edge in Ramsey, N.J., on how to maximize your running experience:

* Incorporate cross training into your running routines. Add weight-lifting, bicycling, yoga, elliptical training, or swimming. Why? They make you fitter and less prone to injury.

*Exercise your abdominal muscles almost every day. A strong midsection (core) is a key component to running. In fact, it can often be the single most important factor for success in long-distance running.

* Change your intensity levels by running faster or farther. Alternate which one you choose to implement in various workouts. It prevents your body from adapting to routines.

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*Pay attention to your shoes. Most shoes wear out after 300 to 500 miles. You often can’t see the wear, but, your knees, hips, and back will feel it. Visit a running specialty store for quality shoes and talk to your doctor for suggestions on the best shoes to get. Not just any shoe will do.

* Run on different surfaces. See how many different surfaces you can run on in a month: asphalt, gravel, trail, grass, track, treadmill, and beach. Each stresses your leg muscles in a slightly different way, helping to prevent overuse injuries. (If possible, avoid concrete, the hardest and most harmful surface for runners.)

* Keep a training journal. A journal can be a great way to maintain motivation and consistency. Keep it filled with running times, routines, motivational quotes, and how your body reacts to various routines. You should have a documented road map for reaching your running goals.

* Take some time off. You don’t have to run every day, every week, or even every month (as long as you’re performing other cardiovascular activities). For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular recovery periods. Performance suffers with too much exercise. Start slow and work your way toward higher mileages and/or more frequency.

* Introduce high-intensity interval training into your running routine. Alternate, pace, speed, tempo and rest periods during a single running session. For example, keep a steady pace for a mile and then sprint run for 30 seconds. Do this for several cycles and notice how your heart rate and muscle fatigue threshold increase.

Every great journey starts with a single step; now just put one foot in front of the other to see how far this new journey takes you. Welcome to the wonderful world of running. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the benefits of running.

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Source:
to your Health. April13. 2010

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