Top 5 Benefits of Running plus tips for beginners!

Are you a runner? Running is one of those things where you either love it or hate it. Some people tolerate it just to get their cardio in, but for the most part I can split my friends and family up into one of two categories: runners vs. non-runners. I consider myself a runner (many…

Top 5 Benefits of Running plus tips for beginners! was originally published on Self Evolve

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Are you a runner?

Running is one of those things where you either love it or hate it. Some people tolerate it just to get their cardio in, but for the most part I can split my friends and family up into one of two categories: runners vs. non-runners. I consider myself a runner (many people tell me I look like a runner too) so needless to say I tend to find myself hanging around more runners than non-runners. But I have nothing against non-runners, I used to be a non-runner myself and can completely understand. Today I’m going to go over the top 5 benefits of running and throw in some tips for beginner runners.

Top 5 benefits of running

  1. Improves cardiovascular health. There’s a reason we call it cardio. Not only are you improving your fitness, you’re also improving your heart, veins, arteries, and blood. As your cardio health improves, your overall health increases. Blood is the main life source that carries everything your organs need.
  2. Improves your mood. There is a thing such as a runner’s high, and it’s real. This runner’s high is thanks to the rush of feel-good hormones called endocannabinoids. No matter what mood you begin with, after running it’s hard to not feel better. This study showed that even walking for 30 minutes lifts the mood of patients suffering from major depressive disorder.
  3. Strengthens your core and joints. You don’t only use your legs when running, you also use your core. Thanks to this, your core will be strengthened by running. Additionally, many studies (1, 2) show that running improves your bone and joint health, especially in youth. 
  4. Burns calories. Cardio is a great way to burn calories and help aid in your weight loss goals. Whenever I feel extra-sluggish, I go for a quick 2 to 3 mile run to burn those extra holiday calories. It may be easier to just avoid the cookies, but I have terrible habits during the holiday season.
  5. Boosts energy. Whether you’re healthy or not, running can help anyone have more energy. Studies show that even if you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, exercise can help improve energy levels.

For more benefits of running, check out this article here. While most of these benefits are true, I would recommend doing more than just running for leg workouts. Running is good for your legs, but it doesn’t work all your leg muscles. Strength training is a must for all runners.

Tips for beginners

  • Plan ahead: plan your runs strategically to avoid burnout.top 5 running benefits
  • Run with a group: running with friends keeps you accountable.
  • Get the right gear: running in the right shoes and using a good run tracker helps immensely.
  • Pick up the pace: start out slow but gradually pick up the pace utilizing different warm ups.
  • Cross train: don’t just run! Be sure to include strength training and other forms of cardio.
  • Rest up: be sure to not over-train! Rest and recovery are needed when working out regularly.
  • Fuel properly: eat healthy and smart. Runners need a health diet high in good protein, fat and fiber.

Why do you run? What are your top 5 benefits of running?

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Top 5 Benefits of Running plus tips for beginners! was originally published on Self Evolve

Layer up: What to wear for your winter run

 Are you crazy?! This is the typical response I get when I tell people I went for a run outside, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Lately, the temperatures have been well below zero and running outside has been kept to a minimum (treadmill, anyone?). But for some of us, there’s nothing better than…

Layer up: What to wear for your winter run was originally published on Self Evolve

 Are you crazy?!

This is the typical response I get when I tell people I went for a run outside, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Lately, the temperatures have been well below zero and running outside has been kept to a minimum (treadmill, anyone?). But for some of us, there’s nothing better than a nice run outside. And if you’re crazy like me, you’ll need to know how to layer up for your next winter run.

Baby it’s cold outside

winter runKeep in mind that once you’re moving, your body heats up fast. Don’t overdress when you think it feels cold. The opposite is true as well: once you stop moving you’ll cool down quickly. Be sure to plan ahead to get out of your workout clothes as soon as you can after your run. Dressing in layers is key for winter running. They will keep you warm at the start, then you can shed some as you warm up. See below for a chart on how to dress according to the temperature outside.

50–59 degrees: short sleeve tech shirt and shorts (feels like 6079 degrees)

40–49 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves (optional), headband to cover ears (optional) (feels like 5069 degrees)

30–39 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and headband to cover ears (feels like 4059 degrees)

20–29 degrees: two shirts layered—a long sleeve tech shirt and a short sleeve tech shirt or, long sleeve shirt and jacket—tights, gloves, and headband or hat to cover ears (feels like 3049 degrees)

10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or hat, and windbreaker jacket/pants (feels like 2039 degrees)

0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask to cover face (feels like 1029 degrees)

Once we get below zero like in Chicago, be sure to pay attention to your local weather information and warnings. Use your best judgment to determine whether you should run outside or hit the gym instead. Also, beware of ice and be sure that you’re visible if running in the dark!

How do you dress for your winter run?

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Layer up: What to wear for your winter run was originally published on Self Evolve

Chicago Marathon Lottery: Not selected and how to still run it

Were you a part of the Chicago Marathon Lottery for 2018? You know, the system where you have to wait and hold your breath until December 12th to know whether you’ve been selected or not? If you entered the lottery and were one of the unlucky ones to not be selected, I’m here to tell…

Chicago Marathon Lottery: Not selected and how to still run it was originally published on Self Evolve

Were you a part of the Chicago Marathon Lottery for 2018? You know, the system where you have to wait and hold your breath until December 12th to know whether you’ve been selected or not? If you entered the lottery and were one of the unlucky ones to not be selected, I’m here to tell you how you can still run the Chicago Marathon in 2018.

Running for a charity

While Bank of America may have rejected you, there are still plenty of spots open with almost every charity out there that’s a part of the Chicago Marathon. Now I know what you’re thinking. “But Jen, I don’t want to fundraise thousands of dollars just to get my butt to the start line.” But fear not, for I have a solution for you!

Best charity ever

chicago marathon lotteryThe solution to your problem? Run for the best charity ever. I know, you’re likely thinking this is a stretch. How can I be certain this is the best charity ever? And, once again, how can I be certain I’ll fundraise to the minimum requirements? Well, running with the best charity will help you fundraise easier. What charity is this, you ask? Team World Vision. And what makes it the best? Well, several things. First of all, they bring clean water to those who need it the most in Africa. Kids and adults in Africa have to walk an average of 6K a day just to get water. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Team World Vision, they attempt to cut that distance to as short as possible by bringing clean water to communities and town centers.

Team World Vision also helps to build schools and bring supplies to those who need it the most in these same communities. They are transparent when it comes to the work they do; showing videos and even hosting the adults and children they’ve helped here in the US. I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people we helped bring clean water to in Africa when they came to Chicago for a visit. Not sure how much better it can get from there.

Chicago Marathon Lottery

While you may be bummed to not have gotten selected at random from the 2018 Chicago Marathon Lottery, you should be happy to hear that Team World Vision has plenty of spots for you to run! And the cherry on top? You don’t have to raise thousands of dollars just to run. The charity asks for each runner to raise enough money to bring clean water to 26.2 kids. What does that look like? It looks like $1,310 ($50 brings clean water to one child for life).

The best part is you’re running for such a great cause. And say you don’t meet your goal (that last $10 can be a killer!), not a huge deal! Team World Vision won’t break your legs nor will they ask you to cover the difference. The only things you have to worry about are the entry fee for the Chicago Marathon, purchasing a Team World Vision jersey to run in, and hopefully chipping in a few dollars of your own for such a great cause.

So what’s stopping you from running Chicago in 2018?

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Chicago Marathon Lottery: Not selected and how to still run it was originally published on Self Evolve

Running and keeping track: Maps and more

Map Your Run As a new or seasoned runner alike, it’s important to map out your runs so that you know how far you’re running. You can simply look at a map or utilize a device to keep track of your distance. No matter how you do it, running and keeping track of your distance is…

Running and keeping track: Maps and more was originally published on Self Evolve

Map Your Run

As a new or seasoned runner alike, it’s important to map out your runs so that you know how far you’re running. You can simply look at a map or utilize a device to keep track of your distance. No matter how you do it, running and keeping track of your distance is a good idea.

Running and keeping track

Back before there were smart phones or wearable GPS devices, runners were forced to use a paper map of where they were going to run in order to know the distance of their runs. If you didn’t plan ahead, you risked the chance of getting lost unless you were running a known trail or track loop distance multiple times. Being a runner meant that you had to know the areas where you ran pretty well. Over time, you learn how many blocks equates to a certain distance. For example, that two mile loop around your neighborhood that you run consistently.

Tracking devices

running and keeping trackNow that there are many different types of smart devices and running apps, you have more running freedom. Freedom to set out and run until you hit your distance (or rather half so you can run an out & back). Also, with technology, you have instant feedback in regards to your pace and timing. And sometimes, even heart rate. I wrote about tracking your fitness, but running is an exercise that you can improve upon with a proper tracking device.

The consistent and instantaneous feedback can help you learn how and when to change your pace and/or distance. Some runners focus on increasing their distance whereas other runners focus on increasing their speed. It’s important to choose either distance or speed to focus on since it’s difficult to work on both simultaneously.

Devices that help me run better

These are the devices and apps that I use to track my runs in order to run further. They also helped me get through Chicago Marathon training.
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What do you use to keep track of your runs? I also use the Nike running app in addition to the Garmin app to track my runs.

Running and keeping track: Maps and more was originally published on Self Evolve

Running Safely in the Dark: Winter is Coming

With the seasons changing, the length of daylight is getting less and less. In about a week we gain an hour as we “fall behind” but despite this, the days still get shorter! And if you work a first-shift job, you’ll likely be getting out when it’s dark already! Today I’m going to focus on…

Running Safely in the Dark: Winter is Coming was originally published on Self Evolve

With the seasons changing, the length of daylight is getting less and less. In about a week we gain an hour as we “fall behind” but despite this, the days still get shorter! And if you work a first-shift job, you’ll likely be getting out when it’s dark already! Today I’m going to focus on…

Running Safely in the Dark: Winter is Coming was originally published on Self Evolve

Running with the runs

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely either have heard of or experienced firsthand a case of runner’s diarrhea. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for about four years now and I can safely say that my running friends are the ones I know the most about in regards to their bowel movements. There’s a special level of…

Running with the runs was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely either have heard of or experienced firsthand a case of runner’s diarrhea. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for about four years now and I can safely say that my running friends are the ones I know the most about in regards to their bowel movements. There’s a special level of friendship that you achieve once you spend hours running with someone. All modesty goes out the window.

I’m here to share some expert (or just witty) tips to avoid running with the runs. These may help you run further without having to pop a squat.

  • Pay close attention to what you eat before a run. Not just the day of, but also the day before. If you’re consuming a lot of fiber, expect a lot of poo to follow. Most runners learn what works best for them. For me, a light breakfast i.e. a banana and Clif bar does the trick prior to my long runs. Avoiding cheese, dairy, and lots of fiber the day before also helps.
  • Try your absolute best to poop before running, like when you first wake up. And for me, avoiding coffee until after the run helps me not have the urge to go.
  • You may be trotting along and get what I call bubble gut. Is it a fart? Or a poop? General rule of thumb: don’t trust a fart after mile 10. Some runners don’t trust a fart ever.
  • If you do have the urgency to go, please find a bathroom or port-a-potty. It’s not worth it to destroy your clothes and dignity just to get that goal race time. Just saying.
  • If you are gonna pop a squat and have no other option, come prepared with toilet paper or something similar to wipe the bum. No one likes chafing poo.

I hope these tips help you on your long runs and on race day. Let me know what works for you in the comments below! And happy running!

Running with the runs was originally published on Self Evolve

How to taper

Are you training for a half or full marathon? If so, is it your first? Have you heard of tapering? Do you know what taper means? If not, continue reading as this can and will change your life! #welcometothetaper I’m currently training for my first full marathon, but I’ve ran two half-marathons. The first one…

How to taper was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you training for a half or full marathon? If so, is it your first? Have you heard of tapering? Do you know what taper means? If not, continue reading as this can and will change your life! #welcometothetaper I’m currently training for my first full marathon, but I’ve ran two half-marathons. The first one…

How to taper was originally published on Self Evolve