A mile in your shoes

Darian Graivshark

I've heard many people say they won't run, even if their life depended on it.

Over the last five years, I've had a love-hate relationship with running. There are times, in the earlier stages, when I would begin running and love it. Other times, I can't make myself take one step. I'll train for 5k runs every now and again, because doing those makes me feel so accomplished.

I ran my first 5k about three years ago. It took me about a month of daily running to make my lungs stronger and legs adjusted enough. My pace was about eight minutes per mile those years ago. Not bad for someone who only began running four weeks before the 5k.

I think, sometimes, I'll push myself too hard. This causes me pain, both mentally and physically. Shin splints are no fun! There's only so much you can take before the body needs a resting period. My resting periods, however, would tend to last a month or more. My body would just say no to running and yes to a lot of stretching.

About two months ago I made it a point to start running again. It's great for your health overall, even if it is a tinge unbearable. Starting again, my pace was horrible. Eleven minutes per mile. I could've, and should've probably just walked the one more that I "ran."

What's really important to me, though, is getting my heart rate up for a certain amount of time, then focusing my attention on recovering my heart rate. Even if my legs are tired, I won't stop running until my heart rate gets down to at least 115 beats per minute.

I feel as though this has helped me run farther, because it focuses all of my energy on the wellness of my heart, as well as my breath. I see too many people running for three miles and coming to a complete stop once they're finished. I thought we were taught to slow the pace to a walk before just stopping?

Using the technique I've been using, I've definitely seen a decrease in my mileage time. It's down to nine minutes, about, per mile. Best part? I'm up to three miles now, non-stop, versus the previous 1.2 miles before I needed to recover for a week.

Being able to look back on progress is so rewarding and motivational in itself. You can see yourself getting better, stronger, and more patient. You take more pride in taking care of your body. I, for instance, cook healthier meals instead of going to a drive-thru. Soda? No way! Water with everything.

Having a running buddy certainly helps, too. It has been proven that you are likely to run a further distance when you're with someone. It's a psychological thing. Who wants to look weaker next to someone else? It encourages growth subconsciously, and I adore that.

Running outside helps, as well, for those who believe running is boring. There is nothing like the outdoors, and a change of scenery, to make it interesting sometimes. Plus, at least ten minutes outside in nature can reduce as much stress as thirty minutes of working out can. Combining both? That's a game changer.

For those of you who are just getting started, I have a few tips I can share. For starters, stretch before you run! You're essentially tearing your muscles apart, so you need to keep them protected with stretching. The same goes for after running. Stretching prevents the muscles from tensing up, and it also stretches out the lactic acid that can build up, which typically causes soreness in muscles.

Another tip is protein! This is really important. Especially if you are trying to gain muscle. Eating something healthy with protein after a workout will help your body rebuild muscles better. Not eating afterwards won't really do anything that will benefit you much.

All-in-all, running isn't as bad as people may make it seem. It depends on the person, your running style, and how you take care of your body during and after a run. What you do before and after has an effect on how you'll feel and the mindset you'll be in for running.

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.