Considered to be the best form of cardio exercise around, running is often the foundation for those wishing to achieve peak physical fitness. Nearly every sport encompasses some form of running whether it is short, fast sprints or something more enduring like soccer where athletes run for long periods of time.
One of the most common downfalls of those wishing to become runners is breaking past the pain barrier. This barrier can be a number of things from the burning leg muscles, to feeling like your lungs are on fire or even the infamous "side cramps". The key to overcoming such obstacles are determination and patience. You will not get in shape after running 2 or 3 times. It takes at least 2-3 weeks running 5 times a week to notice a difference in aerobic and muscular endurance. Keep in mind, it is going to hurt and it is going to take time.
Depending on your current physical shape and age, it is recommended to start out easy (Always consult a physician before starting any exercise program). Start off with 1 mile runs and build up until you can run 2-3 miles comfortably. As stated above, it is going to hurt and your body will burn but these will subside as your aerobic fitness level increases and your body becomes more efficient at processing oxygen.
When your body is able to comfortably run 2-3 miles, it may be time to incorporate some variation in the runs. Look at finding a large incline near you such as a hill and run to the top and bottom 5 times during your run. If you're on the treadmill, set it at an incline and feel the burn. It's best to keep your body guessing and readjusting to the runs. This way it will force it to become more efficient than before.
Setting goals often helps a great deal with staying consistent while on a running regiment. A great goal for beginners is to complete a 5k (3.1 mile) race. During the spring, summer and fall, these are especially popular and very easy to find. They often come with an entrance fee to race. A great beginner goal to set is to complete the race without walking. Then perhaps you can do another one 3 weeks later and try to beat your previous completion time.
Pros of running:
- Incredible boost in aerobic endurance
- Great way to tone all leg muscle groups
- Impact strengthens various tendons and microfibers
- Lowers resting heart rate
Cons of running:
- Painful to start
- Impact can cause aches and pain especially in the back and knees
- In colder climates, more difficult to maintain a regiment during the winter (unless using a treadmill)