After much procrastination, 4 years to be exact, I decided to go out for a run. Steady stride, arms aside the first kilometer was a breeze. But soon with every step, the cellulite in my body shuddered and my muscles ached. And, then and there, much to my convenience, I decided that this was the universe’s way of telling me that running was not my cup of tea. After this, time and again, I was urged to start running as preparation for my trek, but I was stubborn and content with my burpees and weights.
Every morning at my desk I sat, overhearing a conversation. A conversation that I yearned to be a part of. It was one about the rush of fastening a shoelace, about the mystery of choosing a new route and an anecdote about an early morning chai. I watched my colleagues giggle about silly things, while being utterly overcome with joy at the prospect of their next painfully long run. Somehow, then and there, I was sold.
Integrating a good amount of endurance workouts into my routine was difficult. It can be boring and repetitive. But I did my research and it proved to be a success. Here are a few points that I hope are a good marketing tactic to get you to take to the pavement too.
Improved Heart Health
Your heart is a muscle. Hence it needs to be worked on for it to be in good shape. Any form of cardio increases your heart rate, which is essential for your heart’s health. A healthy pumping heart is essential for good blood circulation in the body. A good cardio session will keep the arteries open and the blood pumping.
It will also help you steer clear of ailments at a later stage and save you from the embarrassment of being completely winded at the top of the stairs. At high altitudes, the air is thinner, colder and stronger. Your heart and lungs need to be in great shape to fight through these conditions.
The runner’s ‘high’
A gateway out of depression and continual fatigue, cardio helps release endorphin from your pituitary gland. The endorphins can make you feel exhilarated and block out feeling of exhaustion and pain. The feeling is something that you sometimes might get, other times maybe not. You must exert but not over-exert!
“I love when I feel the burn in my thighs or the pull in my calf, because it is a clear indication that I am getting stronger.” says Swathi Chatrapathy, Indiahikes’ Content Head, who has recently done the Rupin Pass trek.
An article about endorphins was my poster screaming ‘SALE!’. The idea of feeling like I’ve accomplished something at the start of my day was a huge motivation. But I didn’t take to running that easily. Here I come to my third point.
Ease into it
Lakshmi and I at the Paratha Company
To me, cycling is nostalgic and I love the challenge of riding alongside the traffic. So, immediately I started peddling. My first long distance ride was 10km beyond the Bangalore International Airport to a restaurant called ‘The Great Indian Paratha Company’. I cycled there in hopes of having a good hearty breakfast.
But what motivated me the most was the numerous thumbs ups I got along the way, from the fellow cyclists and bikers on the highway. Green Trails Coordinator, Lakshmi, who cycled along side me mirrored my thoughts. Us two girls with our cycles on the highway felt more empowered now than ever.
A few rides later the traffic bothered me no more and sore muscles were history. And then I knew I was ready for my first long distance run. And I think I might join my colleagues in a conversation about how happy I was to fasten my shoe laces.
You too must start with some form of cardio that you are comfortable with. Swimming is another great alternative. Both are gateway drugs into long distance running, which will ensure your trek is a breeze. Here I must add that although I do love cycling, swimming is a more holistic workout if done continuously. If you are taking the leap and starting to run, then frequent small amounts of workouts are better than binging. Even a 3 km brisk walk goes a long way, if the alternative is sitting on the couch.