The Caveman’s Essential Exercises #4: Running

Running – something that we’ve been doing since that first saber-tooth tried to chase down the first human (an event that, incidentally, I happened to have a first-row seat to, might I add). Whereas once upon a prehistoric time, running used to be something that we did for survival, now it’s a dreaded activity that many do for fitness. The problem with running for many people is that it has a tendency to become stagnant and boring. So the question is, how exactly do we get the most out of our morning run, and how do we keep the excitement in our exercise?

First off, you’ve gotta make sure you have the right gear. The right running shoes can make all the difference in the world for your jogging routine. If you’re not sure what type of shoes you need, go down to your local running shop and have someone test your stride. Believe it or not, we all walk different ways. Some people lead with their soles and others with their toes, some people have high arches and others are flat-footed, etc. Finding the right shoes for your unique feet is essential. Also, be sure to purchase exercise clothing that won’t chafe you while you’re running. A little irritation goes a long way towards making you feel like going out for a jog just isn’t worth it. Finally, a good exercise monitor is a great investment and will make sure that you can track your workout and get the most out of your time jogging.

Now that you’re all geared up and ready to go, it’s important to remember that it’s not as simple as simply lacing up your trainers and hitting the pavement. A good running routine incorporates warm ups, cool downs, and stretches. All three are important to make sure that your muscles stay healthy and not over-stressed throughout your exercise. An appropriate warm up should consist of a quick 5 minute jog followed by some light stretching. It’s important to warm up your muscles before you stretch so that you don’t over-tax them or over-extend their flexibility. Cooling down after your job should take another 5 minutes of lighter jogging followed by another stretching session. Jogging and stretching after a workout helps to prevent the build up of lactic acid in your muscles (it’s this build up that causes stiffness and soreness later on).

So now that you know the basics of how to run the right way, the question remains: how do you keep your running routine interesting? Simply add a little variety. This is a good idea both to keep things interesting AND to keep your workout effective. If your routine consists of running two miles at a steady pace every other day, your body will gradually adjust. This will decrease the cardiovascular and strength building benefits that you get from your workout. By mixing up your speed, strength, and endurance, you’ll keep your body guessing and your routine worth following.

In order to add strength to your workout, consider adding in a different terrain. Go up hills, chairs, or other inclines. To increase your endurance, simply add one or two minutes a week to your run and watch the miles add up over time! By the end of two months, you could have added as much as two miles. In order to add some speed, work in some intervals of fast running mixed with slower running. This interval training is a very effective way to tone your body and whip yourself into better shape. Also, if you can, try to avoid running on asphalt. If there are grassy areas or dirty trails in your neighborhood, try running on them instead. These types of surfaces put less strain on your joints to keep you from developing shin splints later down the road.

So there you have it! Scratch’s own personal guide for running and jogging. Any advice of your own? Leave your tips and tricks in the comment section!

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