Running your way into Fitness


So often we find ourselves stuck in a loophole of life, doing what’s demanded of us, leaving little time for activities that bring joy to us. As a 19-year-old university student, my life was pretty much limited to submitting papers and studying for tests. I started gaining weight and then I realized I need to get out of this loophole. Therefore, I added going to the gym to my 'to-do' list. Then, fitness became something that was demanded of me.

Then I realized, it was not necessary for me to go to a gym to stay fit. It could include a fun activity that is both good for my body as well as mind keeping it refreshed at all times. This by no means implies hitting a gym does not make me feel happy. I still enjoy going to the gym 4-5 times a week but sometimes it can be too overwhelming. At such a point, running is my alternative.

Running is a form of aerobic exercise. One must not confuse running with jogging. The difference between them is the intensity. You must possess a goal before getting into the routine of running, otherwise, it becomes a burden as well.

How to get started

Getting started on running is not as simple as it seems. It might seem silly to prepare for a running routine, but in all honesty, you must look into it. First and foremost, you must be willing to get started. I have always been into sports during my school days and when school ended, I decided to continue my interest in running and hence created a routine. Then, grab a pair of your favorite running shoes, and if you don’t have one, get them. This is the most important step in getting started. If you are getting new shoes, do not forget to break them in. Walk then around a few times, maybe wear them to run an errand or to your college, so that your feet feel comfortable enough in them, and do not forget to wear some socks.

The next step is to take it slow.  Start easy to avoid injury.

What to expect

There is a lot to expect from a running session. During the first few days, your leg and thigh muscles may sore up due to the formation of lactic acid in them. Usually, this type of soreness goes away on its own in a few days. The best thing to do is to indulge in a warmup and cool down session before and after the run.

Subsequently, find a running routine that fits you. The ideal routine is to go for a run-walk system, where you walk in intervals between your running. Slowly increase your pace as days turn to weeks. A good 10 minutes stretch with a 40-minute running session with an alternate running and jogging, followed by another 10 minutes of cool down is what works best for me.

Plan your runs. It is just not enough to keep at the back of your head that you need to go for a run. Write it done somewhere (preferably in your journal or to-do list) so you are less likely to forget about it later.

How to find a place or group

Running is a free activity and can be done anywhere. You can go running around your university campus or to a community park and you can do it alone. However, as they say, the more the merrier.

Run with a friend.

Find someone willing to participate in this health journey with you. This gives you someone to compete with at your level. I like to take my dog along with me for a run. This gives her an ample amount of time to run around freely while making up a good session for me as well.

Join running clubs.

Many Societies, universities, and gyms now have running clubs along with a trainer. The trainer provides you with a certain program according to your age and weight, which helps you reach your level of fitness. These are a great way to stay motivated. Running clubs usually come with rewards for every specific number of hours you indulge in running every week.

Participate in marathons and athletics.

Marathons are a great way to build your confidence in running. Various marathons are conducted throughout the year by charity institutes and clubs. These are also a great idea to test how far you have come as a runner. These test your endurance, cardio-muscular strength and stamina. My university hosts an annual run for a social cause and I've been participating in it for the past two months. Even though I do not win, it is a great confidence booster, since I see all these people doing the same. On the other hand, Athletics events such as 100m races and relays are for people with a good sprint.

Whatever you may participate in, with a routine beforehand, you can bring home some prizes as well.

Benefits and Drawbacks

We are all aware of how running is beneficial to get into shape, but in truth, it can be instrumental for providing good body and mind. The most important one for me is its calming effect. Whenever I am burdened down by my university tests or deadlines, I often put on my shoes and go for a run. I let all thoughts flow freely in my mind. By the end of it, I'm drenched in sweat, with a clearer mind and fitter body.

It ameliorates your health.

Running has proven to increase your total lung capacity, tone muscles and even prevent chances of breast cancer in women. If done right, it can help you lose weight. Running helps you burn calories easily. Your future self will thank you for it.

Boosting your confidence.

Any physical activity that we do willingly releases endorphins in our body which are also known as the ‘happiness hormones’. These immediately lift our mood and increases our level of confidence.

Clears the mind.

Running also betters our quality of sleep and has the power to eliminate depression. Every time I have something up my mind that’s bothering me, it goes for a run around the university campus. Sometimes I think it through, at other times I just let it all go. Whatever I do, it always ends up being a nice experience. Although running has many advantages, it may have bad effects it not done properly. Not following a recommended running routine may injure your muscles and even weaken your bones. The same is running on concrete surfaces forb a long time. This leads to many foot injuries. Consider sticking to natural soil or running tracks. Also, a ten-minute run would not affect your body. So you need to dedicate your time at least twice a week to run.

Whatever you do, just do not let yourself get bored with its monotonicity. Change your pace or encourage new friends to join you. Whatever you do, do not forget to have fun!

Deepakshi Sood

I describe myself as an enthusiastic individual with a never-ending quench for adventure and trying stuff out. At the same time, I am stable when it comes to handling my emotions. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering at the Vellore Institute of Technology Chennai.