- “Walk” is not a 4-letter word. It’s a concept I got from my daughter Kate, a young, elite athlete, and it applies to all of us. There’s nothing wrong with walking. First of all, it makes running doable. Putting one foot in front of the other is a great way to start this new regime, and it’s something most of us can accomplish. That’s why it’s the perfect way to begin a running program. (If you’re a beginner, and would like to start a basic walking program before graduating to running, you might try my “MP3 Super Playlist,” a compilation of 10 different walking workouts that blasts calories and firms up the lower body while helping you perfect your form.) If you’re a seasoned runner, walking still comes into play. A run-walk combo turns your routine into a great interval workout where you run for short bursts followed by a period of walking for recovery. Not only does this help you avoid burnout, so that you can keep exercising longer, but it also revs up your metabolism and increases calorie burn.
- It does wonders for weight loss. Speaking of calorie burn, let’s take a closer look at the belly-busting power of running. We all know it’s a great way to shed fat and lose weight, but take a look at these numbers: A 160-pound person running a 12-minute mile burns 600 calories in an hour. After some practice, if that same person improves her stamina and endurance, graduating to an 8-minute mile…Now she’s burning over 850 calories an hour.
- It’s a great excuse to bond. I’ve had some of my best heart-to-hearts on jogs with loved ones. Something about moving together in the great outdoors helps us open up and maintain a connection with the person we’re sharing the experience with. That’s why I love the story of Kristin Elde: A woman who had a long-standing tradition of running with her Dad on Sunday mornings. So when she moved from the west coast to New York, they decided to keep the tradition going: She and her Dad bought wireless headsets for their phone, and scheduled their runs at the same time, so that they could continue catching up over an outdoor jog every Sunday morning.
- It’s about something bigger than you. Whether it’s a mini-marathon or a local walk/run, we can’t underestimate the power of participating in an event that’s connected to a charity. Signing up for a local 5K, for example, isn’t just a great way to raise money for a good cause. It’s also a great way to spend time with old friends, make new ones, and stay motivated (many races allow you to sign up for a regular training program, complete with team leaders to help you perfect your technique).
- Running can be therapeutic. I’ve often told the story that I got into running at age 19 as a form of coping with both of my parents’ sudden deaths. I’d never been an athlete or had much interest in fitness, but I had a boyfriend who played college football, and out of sheer loneliness, I started accompanying him to the track. As I started jogging, linking one lap to the next, I made an astonishing discovery: after these runs, I came away feeling better. Not just physically – but the flood of endorphins that came from running slowly helped lift my depression. (And it’s no wonder. At the time, we didn’t know that those endorphins actually resembled opiates in the way they released high-levels of feel-good dopamine into our brains.) All I knew is that, after every jog, I felt a little lighter. Things were just a little less stressful. And, this terrible pain suddenly became something I could crawl out from under. (Or maybe even run out from under.) The realization that what you do with your body affects your mind was a powerful moment for me. In fact, that’s what sparked my passion for running, and fitness in general, which is what led me to this career…. and ultimately, to sharing all of this with you now.
Now, find the runner within YOU! Click here for a guide on how to get started.
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Exactly!! I started running just a few days after my mother passed away to start training for my first Race for the Cure. I’d already planned on this, bought the jogging stroller (my son was just over a year old) and some new shoes…got to show my mother once, the day before she let go. I had no idea how much I was going to need running to help deal with my grief…and didn’t know at first if I was going to want to continue after the Race for the Cure was all done that year, but I realised how therapeutic running had been for me and decided I definitely never wanted to give it up!
Those first couple weeks were almost as tough physically as they were emotionally after losing mum, but once I got through the initial ‘getting used to it’ period, it actually felt amazingly freeing and I began to really look forward to each run.
This activity was also perfect for me because I’d had a hard time getting any exercise after my son was born, especially while taking care of my toddler daughter at the same time! We couldn’t join a gym and I couldn’t figure out how to find time for a workout between taking care of two young kids, so once my daughter started a preschool program, I was able to take my son out for a run…have jogging stroller, will exercise!! I can’t imagine how I would’ve gotten back into shape during that overwhelming, heart-wrenching time of my life…which was especially important for me right then as exercise has always been my proven medicine for stress of every sort!
Now I’m getting ready for my fifth Race for the Cure and my son will join me in the jogging stroller one last time, he’s just barely fitting these days! As always I’ll run in memory of my mother, although no amount of exercise ever really eases the pain of missing her: