HOW TO JOG
JOGGING FOR HEALTH
Jogging is the best form of exercise for men and women who want to reduce weight, get fit and ensure against heart conditions which strike at both sexes in alarming numbers as our rich living and sedentary jobs increase.
Everyone has a different reason for running. Yet all of us would agree that keeping fit as well as the challenge and satisfaction of personal achievement are the most important reasons for running. Long distance running is a great way to spend your leisure time. Whatever your motive, running is an ideal way to maintain health, retain superior conditioning and extend your life.
Jogging, or easy aerobic running, has been evaluated in Sports Medicine Institutes throughout the world, and found to be the best way to exercise next to cross country skiing - to develop general cardiac efficiency. By developing the underdeveloped blood vascular or circulatory system to gather in and transport more oxygen to the various parts of the body, jogging eases pressure on the heart.
Although running is a natural activity, it can provide unusual stress to the unaccustomed beginner. If you are over 35 or have a strong family history of heart disease, smoke, have elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes or high blood pressure, we advise you to see your cardiologist for a stress test before starting on a jogging programme.
Remember the motto, "Train, don't strain"." Moderation is the key to a successful training programme. Too much, too soon, too often, too fast can create undue stress and delay your physical conditioning. Begin exercising by jogging around the block at a comfortable pace. Start with small distances and gradually increase the duration and distance of your runs. Since your heart, lungs and muscles need time to adjust to this new activity, don't run every day. With the first three or four months of your exercise programme, gradually increase the frequency of your runs up to one hour a day two or three times a week - or more if you can afford the time.
Most long slow distance runners find that warm-up exercises like stretching are not as helpful as simply beginning their runs at a slow pace. Gradually increase your speed up to your normal jogging pace after the first half mile of exercise.
Be alert for the signs of overtraining. Fatigue is the first sign. It's followed by pain, tenderness and sweating in the affected area. If you suddenly start sleeping too long or too briefly, it may be due to over training or improper nutrition. Pay attention to these symptoms. Your body is trying to tell you to back off.
HOW TO RUN
As in any other sport, jogging involves a wide variety of individual styles or techniques. Your running style should be comfortable and natural for you.
- Posture: Long distance runners need to run with their backs straight, perpendicular to the horizon. This helps lessen the stress on muscles and shifts body weight to the load-bearing bones. Follow this advice even when running up or down hills. Don't lean forward.
- Arms: Keep your arms in a comfortable position. When you run, your hands should swing in an arc between your nipples and hip bone. Keep your arms as loose as possible. Don't clench your fists. If you find your fingers swollen or your ring too tight after a run, it could be due to improper running technique.
- Breathing: Breathe comfortably through the mouth. Follow the "talk test"; if you can't carry on a conversation while running, you're going too fast. Slow down. Conversational running is the safest and most efficient way to train.
- Legs: Leg movement should be free and easy. The stride of a long distance runner tends to be shorter than that of a sprinter. You shouldn't feel uncomfortable while running.
Proper posture and form is important in running. However, don't be overly concerned with these considerations. In your exercise programme, motivation and discipline are far more important that good posture and a proper stride.
The most efficient method of jogging is to land flat-footed or heel first. Roll your foot forward and push yourself into your next stride off the ball of your foot. Listen to your footsteps. If you hear your foot pounding or slapping the ground you're not running properly. If you don't hear any pounding, you're doing OK. You're less likely to get injured by running silently.
With this running style you won't have to worry about the hardness of the pavement. You'll hardly notice whether you're running on grass or concrete.
To protect your knees and ankles, vary the terrain you run on. Road pavements are often banked and dip towards the curb. Running on this angled surface can cause uneven stress on your legs.
Speed and endurance are the foundations of competitive running. However, endurance is far more important than speed. Your goal should be LSD - Long Slow Distances.
If you're running to lose weight, don't become discouraged at your slow progress. Your body has a defence mechanism to protect it against sudden weight loss. Also remember that you're always eating more calories than you can burn off through exercise.
To lose body fat you have to cut back on your calorie consumption. A pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. An average person burns 125 calories for every mile of running regardless of the speed of their run. If you run regularly for at least an hour, you'll find your appetite diminishes for several hours after your exercise. This decreased sense of hunger is another bonus of running.
Although your weight may stay the same, you'll become slimmer as you lose fat and tone up your muscles from exercise.
If you run less than three times a week, don't expect to see much improvement in your speed or endurance. However, if you run too much, you run the risk of fatigue or injury.
Your running programme should fit your needs and physical condition. As you increase your workouts be alert for signs of over training. Other running ailments you may encounter are:
- Soreness in the legs: It's natural to have a few aches and pains after training, especially in the very early stages. Don't be afraid to continue running if the soreness is mild. However if the soreness gets worse during your runs or continues after you've rested, you'd better lay off for a few days. Rest, applying ice or arnica to the injury and aspirin are the best treatment for these aches. Treating an injury with a more potent medication could encourage you to continue to train. This could worsen your injury. Curb your enthusiasm and let your body heal.
Should the pain resume after a reasonable rest period, take a look at your shoes. Are they good jogging shoes? And is the wear even on each foot? If your shoes are mainly showing wear on the outside heel and the big toe areas -that's good. Any extreme wear in other places indicates that you may need the services of an orthotist to overcome an incorrect foot strike.
- Low Back Pain: Low back pain is usually due to bad posture and poor muscle tone. Individuals who properly begin a running programme usually find a decrease instead of an increase in low back pain. If your backache continues, see your physician or a doctor familiar with running injuries.
- Dehydration: Dehydration and heat stroke are one of the most serious hazards a long distance runner can encounter. We recommend that you drink water during every run. It is almost impossible to drink too much water. Drink enough liquids after your run so that you urinate within four hours. Your urine should be colourless at least once a day. If you eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water you shouldn't need to buy any of the special athletic drinks on the market.
- Muscle Cramps: Muscle cramps are caused by many factors. Dehydration, electrolyte (mineral) imbalance or over exertion. If you have frequent or severe cramps it's a sign you're doing something wrong. If the cramps don't go away see your doctor.
- Side Stitch: A "side stitch" is a cramp or spasm of the diaphragm due to improper breathing. It frequently occurs on the right side of the chest where the liver is located. To ease the pain, slow your running pace down. Relax your abdominal muscles and breathe through a pursed mouth as if you were whistling. This increases pressure in the lungs and helps decrease the burden on the diaphragm during breathing.
- Blisters: Blisters are the by product of friction. They are frequently caused by ill-fitting shoes or socks. Use vaseline on your feet and between the toes to prevent rubbing. When a blister does break, keep it clean to avoid infection.
The most important piece of running equipment you have is your shoes. Improper shoes cause undue stress on the ankles, knees and hips. Ill fitting shoes are one of the most frequent causes of running injuries. Some brands are available in both width and length fittings. These ensure a correct fit.
Running shoes are designed for various different running styles. You should consult a specialist running store to suggest the correct type of shoe for your requirements.
Do not be swayed by the price of cheap unknown brands. Buying a reputable brand shoe from a specialist store will have a dramatic effect on your running comfort and enjoyment.
Your running wardrobe will be complete with a pair of lightweight synthetic shorts. Avoid cotton or heavily seamed ones which can cause painful chafing.
The same advice applies to running singlets. It absorbs the sweat off your torso and acts like a car radiator to cool you off. As the perspiration evaporates, it draws heat away from your body.
It's not a bad idea to carry some loose change in a coin purse in case you need to make a phone call, want to buy a soft drink or decide to catch the bus back home.
We also advise you to carry some sort of identification.
RUNNING WITH FRIENDS
Running with a friend can provide the needed inspiration and support to keep you on a regular running schedule. A friend also provides conversation, companionship and a partner to compete against.
Friends also provide a measure of safety which is especially important for women. Women who run at night or in deserted areas should be sure to run with a friend.
We whole-heartedly recommend that you join a Joggers Club in your area or if there isn't one near you - a few adverts in your local paper should help to get one going or at least you'll be able to find other people to run with. How to contact the Auckland Joggers Club
Running on the road can be dangerous. Runners must be prepared for careless drivers or speeding bicyclists. Always run defensively.
If you have to run on the road, always run facing the on-coming traffic.
Obey all traffic signals. Stop at intersections even when the light is green. A car may be running the stoplight.
Watch for cars making a turn. The driver will be looking for traffic and may not see you.
Give the motorists a chance! For your own protection, always wear highly visible clothing when you run. And at night, wear reflective strips so that you stand out.
Don't wear any walkman type radios or cassette players. They can block out the sounds of oncoming cars and traffic.
If you run at odd hours or take a different running route, it's not a bad idea to let a friend know of your intended route and time to expect you home.
GUIDELINES FOR SENSIBLE JOGGING
If you have any doubts about your health it is wise to consult your doctor before starting to jog and also have regular checks to monitor the body's reactions.
Running on firm surfaces such as roads gives the best traction and means the leg muscles do not tire as quickly as they would on rough or soft surfaces. When training on firm surfaces it pays to have good rubber soles and heels on running shoes to alleviate the effects of jarring. Dry grassy areas are usually best for beginners to minimise this jarring, as the slower you run the harder you come down on the ground.
Never try to run too fast during the initial training, for it is better to run a little too slowly rather than too fast. Always try to finish in the "pleasantly tired state" knowing that you can do better.
You can never run too slowly to help bring about some cardiac development, but you can run too fast, causing distress, sore muscles and slowing your recovery. Inevitably this then affects your following day's training.
A sensible and balanced diet should be maintained. It pays to read all you can about the functions of vitamins, enzymes and minerals. It is futile training hard if your diet is not wholesome and balanced.
Smoking is injurious to health. One lung full of smoke can pollute the blood stream. However if you do smoke. realise that the important thing is to exercise, and possibly the craving for cigarettes may lessen.
Continued jogging over months can help to lose weight, providing you run enough and at the same time watch your calorie intake, After about half an hour of running at a good speed, your fat metabolism starts to provide most of your energy.
The Golden Rules are:
Whenever in doubt about yourself, see your doctor.
Be regular with your exercising as a little often is better than a lot occasionally.
Jogging is an aerobic exercise so it can be done at any time of the day or night but preferably not straight after meals.
Try to give your digestive system two or three hours to digest food before you exercise.
Be careful of your running shoes and do not allow them to wear unevenly as this can lead to leg injuries.
If you cannot talk comfortably you are running too fast.
This article was produced in the interests of promoting one of the most enjoyable ways of keeping fit, by the New Zealand Joggers Association Inc. with the assistance of the Auckland Joggers Club.