So you hate running? Can't stand to cycle? That's cool.
Fitness isn't one-size-fits-all, so don't feel like you have to subscribe to a certain workout just because other people like to do it. After all, the whole point of exercise is to feel healthy and happy. So instead of hating every moment of your next workout, follow this rule, always do what makes you happy.
So if you're thinking you want to start running, just know you'll be in good company, and a lot of it. It's arguably the most popular form of exercise, with about 13 million women regularly hitting the road, trail, or treadmill, according to a report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Most women get into it as a way to lose weight or shape up, which I totally understand: Running burns about 100 calories per mile, builds strong bones, and contrary to popular belief about wrecking your knees can reduce your risk for arthritis. Plus, Danish researchers found that just one and a half to two hours of slow or moderate running per week can add about six years to your life.
Despite this rosy picture, plenty of women can barely tolerate running let alone find a love for it. Their body aches, their lungs burn, and they spend the entire run cursing each and every step. That's largely because, as accessible and natural as running is, most people never learn how to break down its techniques the way they would for sports like tennis or swimming.
Whether you have never finished a full mile or are looking to jump from 5-Ks to half-marathons. Here is some training, fuelling, and injury-prevention tips that will make you a better runner than ever and yes, even help you enjoy every step.
Secret No.1: Use your breath to find your pace.
All of us instinctively know how to run, but most didn't inherit an innate sense of the exact speed we can sustain. Proper pacing depends on factors like how far you're going, how fit you are, and your genetic ability and it's a skill that takes time to hone.
New runners almost always start off too fast (and then burn out). If you can belt out the chorus to a Bruno Mars song on your iPod, pick it up a bit, but err on the side of slowness to avoid running yourself into the ground. "The idea is to finish each run wanting to do a little bit more or go a little bit faster.
Secret No.2: Don't run every day, give your muscles time to refuel.
It's true that practice and reps are two keys to success. Each run stresses your muscles, bones, joints, and ligaments; as you do it more often, they'll adapt by growing stronger and more efficient. But you can do too much of a good thing. Pounding the pavement is high-impact and repetitive, so doing it too often or too fast can increase your injury risk. The trick is to find the sweet spot in which you run enough to spark changes but also give your body enough time in between to recover.
Secret No.3: You don't have to go long.
Measuring your runs in minutes or miles involves a bit of personal preference. Some beginners may feel "one mile" sounds much more daunting than "a 15-minute run. Either way, picking the right distance or duration based on your goals or fitness level is a crucial step to getting the most from every workout without overdoing it.
So there you go, and go and go...