No, it’s not the winter holidays where you get to go home and sleep 15 hours a day.
It’s not reading week.
It’s not Orientation Week (even though that ranks pretty high on the list of All Things Wonderful).
It’s the start of spring! The days are getting longer, the grass is growing, the weather is getting warmer, and gone are the days of ice, snow, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Spring is the perfect time to make a positive change.
As university students, and in particular engineering students, we’re regularly subjected to a variety of tortures: problem sets, late nights, midterms, crappy food because you have no time to get to the store when studying for midterms (or maybe because you still live in V1), and all sorts of self confidence issues that are a result from the beating we take in our courses. Since it’s now spring, and there’s no time like the present to make a change, I’m going to suggest a way for you to beat these engineering blues.
The answer to all your problems: a good workout. More specifically, running.
Full disclosure: I’m a little biased towards running. I absolutely love it, and I go slightly crazy when I miss a run. I’ve been running for a few years, and fairly seriously over the last 12 months. Back in first year I never thought I’d ever see myself enjoying this. I’m by no means fast or particularly talented, but that hasn’t stopped me from hitting the pavement with enthusiasm every time I go out for a run. Running has helped me relieve my stress, improve my self confidence, and introduce me to scores of amazing and positive people. If you’re 100% positive that running isn’t for you, that’s okay. Read on! The rest of this article may still help you get pointed in the right direction with an activity that’s more your speed. That said, I’m still going to try to convince you to give running a try.
I might have an idea of what’s going through your mind upon reading my suggestion of taking up running. You may be thinking that there’s no way you could run even 500 metres, that you’ll look stupid if you give it a try, that you’re just not built for running, that you’ve heard what it can do to your knees, or that it’s just boring as heck. A lot of people have these thoughts before they take up running – I know I did. To you I say: sit tight, and let me convince you otherwise.
- First, the science-y stuff in brief: physical activity relieves stress. Running has been shown to be one of the best activities for burning calories. It’s been proven that high-impact exercises like running increase your bone density. Most recently, studies have shown that regular running actually protects your knees, rather than gradually wearing them out. Ergo: there is no reason not to try it. You have nothing to lose, and so much to gain.
- Ever hear of the runner’s high? It’s awesome. Everyone should experience it at some point.
- Everyone has to start somewhere. Absolutely everyone can run. It doesn’t matter what your body type is, or how active you were as a kid and teenager.
- All you need to start running is an open mind, a willingness to give something new a try, a bit of dedication, and a desire to do something good for yourself. Sometimes you might need a friend to tell you not to get discouraged. I’d be glad to be that person if you need encouragement!
- Running introduces you to so many wonderful people and places. The first thing I do on a co-op in a new city is join a running group, because you meet about 20 friendly, open, and welcoming people right away. Plus, there’s no better way to get newly acquainted, or better acquainted, with a city than by exploring it on foot.
Hopefully those few points dispelled any misconceptions or doubts you had about giving this a shot. If you’re wondering how to get started, there’s not a whole lot else you need to know. That’s the beauty of running: you can do it any time, any place, and you don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to do it. Here’s how to get started:
- Make sure you’re healthy! Talk to your doctor if you need to.
- Wear proper footwear! This is so important. Wearing the wrong type of shoe can result in aches and pains, or even injuries, and you probably don’t want that experience. The best thing to do is to go to a specialty running store and have them take a look at your feet. They do it for free! They’ll be able to look at the motion of your feet and ankles as you walk and run and recommend the best shoes for you. Two great stores in the KW area are Runner’s Choice and The Running Room.
- If you’ve found the right shoe for you but its too expensive in-store, don’t get discouraged. Check to see if they have the same model at a department store, look on Amazon (yes, Amazon), or check runningwarehouse.com. You can also ask the clerk if they have an older model of the same shoe on clearance, or if there’s a similar shoe that’s less expensive.
- You don’t need fancy brand-name clothes to enjoy running. All you need is to be comfortable. That can mean a cotton t-shirt and basketball shorts, or it can mean split shorts and a technical tee. All you need to remember is the 10 C rule: dress as if it’s 10 C warmer outside than it actually is, and this will help you stay fairly comfortable without overheating or freezing.
- Ladies: wear a good sports bra. Unwanted bouncing can make running so uncomfortable. You can find them cheap at Winners or a department store, but be sure that it provides the support you need for a high impact activity like running. Specialty running stores will also be able to provide you with the right fit.
- Make sure you wear sunscreen! Skin cancer is bad. No one wants that. Don’t forget your lips, so wear a lip balm with sun protection.
- Be well hydrated. If you drink water throughout the day and run in the afternoon or evening, you should be just fine. If you run in the morning, wake up a little earlier than you planned to just in case you need to down some water before you head out.
- Be safe! If you’re running at night, wear something reflective. Running in all black can feel pretty badass, but if a car doesn’t see you in the dark, I promise you that you won’t be feeling awesome for very long. A dead ninja is not a useful ninja. Wear something reflective, or even better, run with an LED light clipped to your clothing somewhere. It’s also a good idea to run in the direction facing oncoming traffic, so that you can see cars coming your way.
- Make sure you carry ID with you, and let someone know where you’re going and how long you plan to be out for.
- Listen to your body. Be aware of what a “good hurt” is and what a “bad hurt” is. Good hurt: muscle aches after a run. Bad hurt: pain that feels like it’s on a tendon or a bone. Good hurt: burning lungs. Bad hurt: sunburn.
- Aim for 4 times per week to start. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to ease into a new routine. Aiming for 4 runs per week, or a run every other day, is a great starting point. The distance and duration is completely up to you, and will depend on your current fitness level. If your body cooperates after 2 weeks, you can go from there. Remember: you know your body best, and you know what it can take in terms of speed and distance.
That’s basically all you need to know! It’s that easy.
If you feel like you want the support of a group to help you get started with running, want to meet new people, or just don’t want to run alone, EngSoc has started a running club called Accelerated Masses. It’s a relaxed, friendly, encouraging and supportive group that can be enjoyed by beginners and more hardcore runners alike. We meet on Mondays at 6 pm and Saturdays at 11 am on the POETS patio. Bring your friends! There will be three pace groups: one for beginners which will follow a run/walk pattern for about 20 to 30 minutes, an intermediate group which will do runs up to 8 km, and an advanced group which will cover distances over 8 km. The plan for each meeting and workout will be flexible depending on what people want to do. All the groups will have opportunities to try running drills, including intervals and hill repeats, as the term goes on. If you have any more questions about the running club, or on getting started with running, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this has convinced you to give running a try! It really is amazing in so many ways, and I’m sure it will open doors for you. Good luck, and run happy.
Next IW issue: All you need is 30 days