By: Robert Ryles
So what is it about running that attracts so many, compels so many obsessions and becomes such a drug? Is it the sheer agony of it all? The shortness of breath in the hot,gasping lung, the debilitating muscle cramps and joint aches or the intense fear of failure?
Maybe it is the joy of the 'open road', the freedom, the mind numbing ability of running to nullify the most potent of damning days in the office. Whatever it is if you run you get it and if you don't then you probably don't.
Runners are without doubt a breed on their own and you can spot one a mile off before they enter your company. I know I have treated so many. They will be the first to admit that itheir sport soon became 'love me love my running'. It often becomes the major thing in their life around which everything else has to fit.
Other sports, barring top level competitors, do not seem to have such an influence over participants with the possible exception of bodybuilding.
The History Of Running
The ancient Greeks were among the first humans to establish running competitions and running formed a key part of the ancient Greek Olympics.
Throughout history, the goal of competitive running has remained the same: to cover the set distance in the shortest possible time. The distances of competitive races range from short sprints of less than 100 meters, to marathons (26 miles 385 yards or 42.2km).
The origin of marathon running comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier sent from the small town of Marathon to Athens to convey the message that the Persians had been defeated in a gruesome battle at Marathon. The diligent messenger ran the entire distance without stopping and subsequently died from exhaustion on arrival.
The popularity of running has skyrocketed in recent years with the higher profile attained by distance events together with the acknowledged benefiits for health, fitness and weight control.
Apart from a good pair of supportive running shoes, there is relatively little equipment necessary. It can therefore be considered a relatively inexpensive sport, making it attractive for many people. Another reason that running is so popular is its inherant flexibility. All you need to pack is your running shoes, and you can "take" your sport with you anywhere in the world virtually.
Why Do People Run?
It's a good question. It may begin as as an experiment into losing a few inches but as any runner will tell you, in no uncertain terms, it soon becomes a drug.
For many, the attraction is the freedom, the outdoors, the elements and the the terrain but combined with that feeling of achievement that only distance running can give, you have a powerful concoction. As a stress reliever it has few equals.
If you are considering starting running there are a few key things to consider.
Running places a heavy demand on your cardiovascular and skeletal system. You should seriously consider consulting your doctor to check out your health as prevention is better than cure every time. This is particularly important if you are over forty, have not done any exercise for a while or have any previous medical history.
Having been a runner myself as well as a Physical Therapist I have no doubts as to the toll that running on hard surfaces takes on the muscles, bones and joints of your lower limbs, in particular your knees. In certain cases it may be that there are other sporting activities that are more beneficial than running, if you have any significant inflammatory joint problems or degeneration.
There is no doubt that running is a sport accessible to many and capable of improving cardiovascular fitness, assisting in weight control and in general lifestyle well being.
If you are fit to run and want to get into running here are a few good tips to begin with:
*Before you start get yourself checked out by a doctor.
*Obtain a good pair of running shoes.
*Start running slowly and do short distances concentrating on improving your running style and breathing.
*Join a club or run with an experienced runner initially to help you with your running.
*Initially I recommend you run 3 or 4 times a week utilising a correct warm up and cool down.
*Eat a healthy balanced diet and ensure you drink sufficient water before, during and after running.
Good luck and enjoy!
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