This blog post was originally posted on the SFU Recreation blog on Aug 2 2021.
It is the year 2283. A powerful virus has spread across the globe, infecting thousands of individuals and turning them into mindless zombies. You wake up in a deserted basement and find that you are still alive. The only way to keep yourself alive is to jog/run from the hordes of zombies that are just outside. Will you be able to survive?
Aside from keeping you alive during a zombie apocalypse, jogging/running offers many benefits to the human body. Long-term studies show that jogging/running at low intensities reduces cardiovascular diseases, body mass, resting heart rate, and HDL cholesterol in physically inactive adults. Long-distance jogging/running also has positive effects on mitigating symptoms of depression and anxiety in college students. With this in mind, I have often wondered why there aren't more individuals into running/jogging and why some people shy away from the activity altogether. After asking around, the most common response that I received was that "running is too hard," "it's hard to stick with it," and "it's so boring." My response is that it doesn't have to be! I'll be sharing some of the tips and tricks that I used to get myself into running and hopefully it will get you motivated!
If you're getting started with running, the chances are you're super excited and can't wait to get started. The biggest issue is that you're probably going to start too fast. You'll start running at a pace that you can't sustain for long periods of time and end up feeling like your lungs are on fire or that you want to throw up. To prevent this from happening, you can try something called the "Talk Test." If you are running with a friend, try to have a conversation with them! It should be easy to talk to them without having to gasp for breath. However, if you are gasping, it probably means you are going too fast. Running by yourself? No problem, you can still use this method. While running, I've found that breathing through my nose is the equivalent of being able to have a conversation with someone. Getting to the point where I have to breathe through my mouth is the same as failing the talk test. If you're using this test correctly, running shouldn't feel too hard!
I know it's hard to keep your overwhelming excitement down, but please don't be overly ambitious. Start small with running 1-2km a few times a week and slowly build it up from there. Doing too much too soon is stressful on the body and can cause injuries. A good rule of thumb is that you should not be increasing your distance by more than 10% each week. This ensures that your body has time to adapt to the stress of jogging/running and will hopefully reduce your risk of injury. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way and went from running 2km the first week to 10km the following week. I woke up the next morning in a lot of pain and it took 2 full weeks for me to recover and get back the progress I had made. We don't want that! When in doubt, go small.
The most important part of jogging/running is keeping yourself motivated. A great way to do this is by running with friends or family members. They can help to motivate you and keep you accountable on days that you don't feel like jogging/running. Another alternative is to connect with others virtually through fitness tracking apps. Strava is a great app that lets you follow friends and view each other's activities. If you're as competitive as I am, you can even "race" your friends and see who can finish a set distance the fastest! There's also the option of setting your activities to private and you can compete against yourself to set new personal bests. The app itself will also try to motivate you through earning badges, rewards, and completing challenges! But remember to also be mindful of your body and limitations.
I get it, running on a track in circles for a long time is boring. The easiest trick is to distract yourself! I usually do this by jamming out to my favourite playlist or listening to a podcast. Picking a good run route is also very important to mitigate boredom! I would recommend choosing a route with nice scenery or a change of terrain. I enjoy running in the forest near my house because it gives me a chance to look around and explore. The forest floor is also full of roots and jumping over them gives me something to do rather than running on a flat road. The key here is to pick something that you like that will keep you distracted!
If you're wanting to get into jogging/running, take it easy at the beginning. It shouldn't feel difficult, and you definitely shouldn't feel like you're about to pass out from exhaustion. Once you start to feel comfortable with pacing, you can add on more distance. However, this should not be more than 10% of the distance you were doing before, as this will help to reduce your risk of injuries. If at any point you feel like you're starting to lose motivation, change things up! Make a new playlist or find a new route that you've been dying to explore. Bring your friends or family along too. I'm no running expert, but these are some things that have worked for me in the past to keep me motivated. I hope that you will give them a try for yourself. Maybe they'll help you survive the zombie apocalypse!