What used to be part of our survival strategy evolved into a sport similar to what we know today about 2700 years ago. No sport is simpler, more functional and practiced by as many people around the world as running. Today I'll tell you how you can best use this for yourself and start running!
The History of Running
Already in the Stone Age we covered large distances - but compared to today not for pleasure. As far as we know, we mainly used this physical ability in what is known as “fight or flight” mode, i.e. when we were hunting or fleeing danger ourselves.
A few epochs later, the foundation for modern running was laid in ancient Greece. Around 700 BC people could compete over short distances. On distances of up to 1500 meters, ordinary people and soldiers competed against each other and thus got the chance to make a name for themselves in society. The sport of running received the next boost in development about 300 years ago in what is now Europe. Running, but also simple walking, has become more and more popular for body and mind, but also as an instrument for athletic competition. The most famous running route is the marathon with a distance of over 42.195 km, which has only been used in this form since 1908.
Why is running so important to us?
Even if running is a rather simple sport, this type of movement has an incredible number of benefits for our body. Unlike a few years ago, for most of us it is now just a leisure activity. After all, body and mind benefit from regular exercise. Many of us know the saying “Use it or lose it”: Anyone who starts again after a long break knows what I’m talking about. More on that later, now let’s look at the health aspects first:
Running is probably the easiest way to strengthen our cardiovascular system and improve endurance . Practiced correctly, it also strengthens our bones , tendons , and ligaments . Here, of course, it is always important not to overdo it and overwhelm our body.
Many run with the aim of losing fat deposits. In this case, I recommend that you regularly switch between continuous running and interval running. Tempo changes in a training session are a good choice, especially if you are short on time.
Of course, your daily calorie intake also counts for this goal. If you exercise more but also eat more, you won't end up losing the weight you want.
One factor that still receives little attention is the mental aspect. Here we are talking about the so-called 'runners high' - a kind of high that we experience when we have reached the optimal flow while running. The term 'mental walking' has also been coined by the brightest minds and top performers over the last few centuries.
What is behind the terms 'runners high' and 'mental walking'?
The 'runners high' describes the state of mind we fall into when we have found optimal flow. That's when we feel like we can go on forever.
The ideal gap between ability and sporting challenge has been found, not too much and not too little. The feeling of elation arises from the fact that the body thanks you for the effort with intoxicants produced in the body itself. According to the latest scientific knowledge, these include endocannabinoids. This process in the body is also the reason why we can keep walking despite pain. The rhythm that a long run brings with it alone puts many runners in a kind of trance. The longer the run lasts, the deeper the state of consciousness - this can have a relaxing effect on our mind despite the physical exertion.
But if you don't have that much time to wait for runners high or would rather take it slower, I have a good alternative for you: Walking is just as tough - in terms of several aspects, according to the latest studies that you can metabolically compensate for the popular “10,000 steps a day” idea with 3x10 minutes of fast walking. The pace should be high enough that the cardiovascular system is also challenged.
Furthermore, many of the most successful people of the last centuries use "mental walking" to clear their minds - minds in which many important ideas and creative concepts have arisen! It doesn't always have to be fast, even a walk in the fresh air can work wonders.
Running not only keeps the body young, our brain also benefits from it. We stay active and can bring body and mind into harmony. I also often get feedback from my customers that running also has a positive effect on their digestion . It is therefore good to know that the largest part of our immune system can be found in the digestive tract - we also strengthen this through running training. Excessively high levels of running can, however, reverse this effect. So more is not always more!
How do I start running properly?
The motto is: take it slow! Even if you've had a longer break, you really should give yourself enough time to get your body used to it again. Especially if you've been sitting a lot this winter, your joints and cardiovascular system need a gentle start.
I therefore recommend that beginners actually start with fast walking units of 20 minutes each and repeat this several times a week. To challenge your body even more, you can do a few additional exercises - simple bodyweight exercises such as push-ups against a park bench, lunges or squats are particularly suitable here.
After 1-2 weeks you can then switch to alternating intervals between running and walking, for example 20 minutes of alternating one minute of running and one minute of walking. You can also do this 2-4 times a week. The tempo of both intervals is entirely up to you. If you feel too exhausted after the 20 minutes, your pace was too fast. If you're feeling underwhelmed, next time you can increase both tempos or add some strength exercises to your training session.
After another two weeks you can then switch to longer endurance runs. For example, try to run 10-minute blocks at a time. If it gets too much for you, just take walking breaks in between. Over time, there will be more and more running blocks and you will automatically reduce walking.
Another tip: It's more fun with two people!
Find a running partner with whom you train regularly so that you can motivate each other! You should make sure that you are at about the same level of performance so that nobody stops the other, because that doesn't get you any further! It is much better if you plan the pace for the upcoming running session together in advance and then stick to it.
If you have the opportunity to walk or run outdoors in nature, you can also enjoy the fresh air and the relaxing effects of the trees. According to studies, this can lower blood pressure. In combination with exercise, a run in nature can also have a positive effect on your sleep.
Exaggerated motivation or excessive demands on ourselves are usually the reason why we break with resolutions early. It's better to take it slow, get your mind and body used to it, and gradually increase your training than giving up your running shoes after a short time.
What do I have to pay attention to when eating?
As with any athletic activity, running comes with a sort of 'priority list' that you should stick to. The motto 'First Food' applies here, which I, as a performance coach, can only agree with! It means that you should definitely provide your body with good quality and healthy food.
The most important food for the preservation and our performance is actually water. But drinking is something we unfortunately often forget! Our body consists of 60% water, every cell in our body needs enough liquid to function. When we run, we lose a lot of this precious liquid through sweat - so it's important to always drink enough! In addition to water, nutrition also plays an important role in running performance. High-quality fats and carbohydrates provide sufficient energy for your workout.
In general: If your running workout is short, fast & intense, such as a HIIT program, then you should provide your body with high-quality carbohydrates such as rice or sweet potatoes.
If your running workout is very long and continuous, then you also need a sufficient amount of fat, because after a certain time your carbohydrate stores are empty and the body falls back on the fat reserves.
Dietary supplements are also a good way to support the body when running. Here it is particularly important to support our ATP production - the ultimate energy currency at the cell level. Q10 and L-carnitine are often used here to supply the mitochondria, the power plants of our body, with sufficient nutrients. Beetroot is also considered a real power food for athletes and is therefore often used to increase performance. The nitrate contained in the beetroot extract and the minerals potassium and magnesium ensure that muscles and cells are optimally supplied. Because one thing is particularly important for amateur athletes as well as running professionals: energy to the last meter!
Your ideal companion for your extra mile: 100% running .
How do I find the right footwear?
Choosing the right footwear for the running sessions is very important. Especially when we are inexperienced and our technique is not yet mature, a shoe can make a big difference.
You should be careful not to overstrain your joints, pain is never a good sign! The footwear should therefore be comfortable, especially with a higher body weight, good cushioning is important!
The original type of footwear for running were the so-called barefoot shoes, which are still very popular with experienced runners today. In the past there was neither elaborate functional clothing nor high-tech air cushion technology. The characteristic of these shoes is therefore that the heel and ball of the foot are at the same height. One speaks here of the zero blast. The lack of cushioning requires a practiced running technique and can quickly overwhelm you.
If you tend towards barefoot shoes, they should first be broken in in everyday life after purchase - you will see that your gait pattern will change. In general, we tend to hit the heel too hard. With a barefoot shoe you get instant 'feedback' from the ground and your steps will soften over time. A shoe without cushioning can therefore also have a positive effect on the muscles. So don't be surprised if you feel sore muscles in the first few days!
Running, or at least brisk walking, is suitable for almost everyone. If in doubt, get the okay from your doctor if you have health concerns.
Try to spend a lot of time on your legs outside of your training sessions - because that's what they're made for! Use the many advantages of one of the oldest sports and bring your body , brain , heart and soul into harmony. They will thank you with more energy and satisfaction! The best environment for your running units is nature - move outside and enjoy the forest, meadow and water for an optimal running experience!
I wish you lots of success and fun getting started!