Couch potatoes, zombies and sore calves

For a while now, I’ve been trying my best to get myself to a healthier lifestyle. Changing the things I eat has been hard (but worth it!), but starting to exercise has been even harder! Fact is, I don’t like exercise. I don’t like to get all sweaty and warm with my heart pounding out of my chest. But change doesn’t happens when you stay in your comfort zone, so I’ve started running.

First thing I tried was the running program ‘Start to run’ (it’s a Dutch program). It was okay, but I didn’t like the fact that you can’t pick your own music. After that, I went on to ‘Zombies, run!’ which is great fun (you’re being chased by zombies, I mean, what’s not to like, right?!), but I don’t like how little you run and the exercises that are combined with the running program are not my thing. So on I went to something I’ve been hearing a lot of lately; Couch to 5K. I’ve downloaded the app, put in on my iPod Touch and gave it a spin! Yesterday I’ve finished my first round and I must say that I’m very pleased with myself at the moment. It was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be, there was a decent amount of running to be done and I like the fact that you can pick out a drill sergeant to motivate you (you can also go for some of the other motivational speakers if you don’t like a man shouting ‘RUN!’ in your ears). The goal is to be able to run 5K in 9 weeks by training 3 times a week.

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The shoes I’m running in are the Vibram Five Fingers. I’ve been writing about those before (The minimalistic shoe) and I even love them more than I did back then. Obviously, I was expecting a bit of muscle aching the day after my run, since it was my first run since a long time. And not only that. I’ve also changed from my regular running method (landing with the heel of my foot) to running with the Chi method (which uses, among other things (for more information I recommend searching online for ‘Chi running’) a midfoot strike instead of a heel strike).

First time run + Vibram Five Fingers + Chi running = Not being able to walk down the stairs the next morning. My calves are stiff and when walking a little bit too enthusiastic (read: Walking in any other way than gliding over the floor like I’m an ice skater) my body goes into protest and I look like freaking Gollum (can we all say “My Precious”?). But I’m pretty sure it will all be worth it when in 9 weeks, I’m running my first 5K ever!

Here are some tips for when you first start running:

Health

  • Always do a warming up before you start running and a cooling down after. This prevents injuries. When using a running program (like ‘Zombies, Run!’ or ‘Couch to 5K’) it usually features a warming up you can use.
  • Have a resting day in between your runs to let your body heal.
  • Start slowly. Don’t over-do it, it might do more harm than good to your body.
  • Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel good and you’re really worried, check with your physician.
  • Sore, tired muscles are normal; bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a sign of injury Contact your doctor to get it checked out.

Running gear

  • Make sure you have some good running shoes. They might be a bit pricy, but they’ll be worth it. Good running shoes will help you prevent injuries and make your runs more enjoyable.
  • You don’t have to spend a small fortune on running clothing. Most big clothing stores (like H&M) sell sport clothing for a very reasonable price.
  • Make sure that the clothing and shoes you’re wearing fit comfortably without anything chafing against your skin.

Awareness 

  • Always carry your address and other important information with you in case of an emergency.
  • Always make sure someone knows you’re out running, especially if you live in a remote area.
  • If you feel unsafe while running, get out! Turn around and go home, if you carry a cell phone with you call someone or if there’s a diner or anything nearby go there and call someone to pick you up.

Disclaimer: Always check with your physician first before starting any form of exercise

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