Run For Your Life
Up until the middle of high school, I never really ‘exercised’. I took a mandatory phys-ed class in grade 9 and that was the extent of my physical activity. However as the years continued and the inevitable anxieties of adolescents sunk in, I decided to try something I’d actively avoided my whole life: running. So one day, I tried running around the block. The next day I did it again, and the following day I went further (you see where this is going). It is nine years later and I find so much joy in this activity I once dreaded.
Okay, enough with my story – what I really want to get across today is that running may not be for everyone all the time, but I have found so much unexpected relief from it, that I wanted to share some pros, cons, do's and don’ts for you to consider.
· Rotate: Like any physical activity done with repetition, running can cause injury. It’s important to rotate through various types of exercise that challenge your body in different ways, even if your goal is to improve your runs. Check out last week’s article which gives a great high intensity circuit workout that can assist with building strength and aerobic capacity to mix into your workout routine! Another option is adding in stair workouts or interval training during your runs.
· OMG Shoes: Spend the money on a good pair of shoes and the time to find what YOU need. The Running Room has a team that can help find what type of shoe is best suited for your body and gait.
· Roll it Out: Foam rollers completely changed my ability to recover from injury and prevent future ones; the iliotibial (IT) band is notorious for becoming tight in runners and this can cause a lot of discomfort both in the thigh and create knee pain. Naturopaths can provide acupuncture, cupping, and nutritional support among other tools to help treat and prevent stubborn injury. You can see us or the Sports Med shift at the clinic for a personalized plan!
· Don't skip the Stretch: I say this from both a medical perspective and personal experience – stretch before and after a run. It is all too easy to fall into habit dashing out and back, but our muscles need to be stretched before they are strengthened.
· Don't forget to Hydrate & Nourish: I don’t know about you, but I sweat… like, a lot during a run. This requires replenishing with not just water but electrolytes too (magnesium, potassium and sodium are the big players). Being depleted of electrolytes can have a major impact on energy and muscle recovery (ever had a muscle cramp?). Stay tuned for an upcoming recipe for a homemade recovery drink!
Like everything we have discussed on our blog, exercise is highly individual. Each person has a physical activity that works best for their body type, personality and schedule, so I am not suggesting everyone should run. Here is why I run: it is meditative; it is a time where I can’t be contacted, I can just think, I can explore the city, it is my time. This is something that is so important in a world where we are constantly expected to be reachable – just to have moments of solitude.
So, yes, running increases endorphins, helps to build lean muscle (which increases metabolism), is beneficial for the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and is linked to preventing a host of diseases BUT it is also amazing for the mind and soul. It really helped my mental health and I hope you can find some small joy from it too!