Chiropractic Health & Wellness Blog

Feel the Runner's High

April 15, 2010
Feel the Runner's High

For too many people, the only time they'll even consider running is if they're being chased! The truth is running can be easy and fun to do. It's inexpensive, readily available, can be done at just about any age, makes you feel years younger and has massive health benefits. (And if you ever do find yourself being chased for any reason, it would be nice to be able to outrun your chaser!)

By implementing a few simple strategies, you can take running to heights never imagined.

What's the difference between jogging and running?

This distinction might seem obvious, but it's actually an important one: Running means you are moving at a faster pace than jogging. Technically, if it takes you less than nine minutes to complete one mile, you are running. If it takes you more than nine minutes, you are jogging. Jogging is harder than walking because it requires more muscle to go faster, breathe deeper, and maintain proper balance. Running requires more effort than jogging and is more intense. It requires stamina to go faster and endurance to go for longer periods of time.

It is always best to start jogging regularly for approximately one month before progressing to running; this will build up your body's ability to handle the additional stresses and pounding of the joints.

Start Slow, End Slow

Stretching is an important part of most workout routines, running included. Unfortunately, stretching is the first thing that gets left out if you are in a hurry or you're trying to squeeze in your exercise for the day. You should be stretching before and after you run. Even five minutes of stretching before to warm up your muscles and five minutes of stretching after for a cool-down can prevent serious injury. I normally recommend 15-20 minutes of stretching to my patients before and after their workouts.

There are many different stretches. Regardless of which ones you choose to do, make sure you stretch into comfort and not pain. If a stretch is hurting, back off or don't do it. Pain is an indicator that something is wrong, and pushing past this point can invite injury to your door.

Since we all run at different paces, try the following protocol the next time you finish stretching. After stretching, begin walking at a slow, comfortable pace. After a few minutes, increase your pace gradually to a faster walk, then to a light jog and then into your full, usual running speed. Obviously, the time it takes you to get to a full run will vary, but it is a nice way of getting your body into the groove. Once you are almost finished with your run, gradually slowing your pace to a walk is a nice

Running is one of the best forms of aerobic conditioning for your heart and lungs. It can significantly increase your metabolic rate and the amount of calories you burn, leading to loss of excess body fat. Running is also beneficial for slowing down the aging process.

Those who run regularly are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss due to the body's positive response to additional physical demands.

Running can also have many psychological benefits. Most runners typically report being happier and feeling less stressed from the grind of daily life. Why? Because regular exercise has the ability to alter mood, attributable to a surge in hormones called endorphins. These hormones create a sense of euphoria often referred to as a "runner's high" and can result in an improvement in mood.

Here are some great tips, courtesy of running coach Chipper Robinson from Running on the Edge in Ramsey, N.J., on how to maximize your running experience:


Incorporate cross training into your running routines. Add weight-lifting, bicycling, yoga, elliptical training, or swimming. Why? They make you fitter and less prone to injury.

Exercise your abdominal muscles almost every day. A strong midsection (core) is a key component to running. In fact, it can often be the single most important factor for success in long-distance running.

Change your intensity levels by running faster or farther. Alternate which one you choose to implement in various workouts. It prevents your body from adapting to routines.

Pay attention to your shoes. Most shoes wear out after 300 to 500 miles. You often can't see the wear, but, your knees, hips, and back will feel it.

Run on different surfaces. See how many different surfaces you can run on in a month: asphalt, gravel, trail, grass, track, treadmill, and beach. Each stresses your leg muscles in a slightly different way, helping to prevent overuse injuries. (If possible, avoid concrete, the hardest and most harmful surface for runners.)

Keep a training journal. A journal can be a great way to maintain motivation and consistency. Keep it filled with running times, routines, motivational quotes, and how your body reacts to various routines. You should have a documented road map for reaching your running goals.

Take some time off. You don't have to run every day, every week, or even every month (as long as you're performing other cardiovascular activities). For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular recovery periods. Performance suffers with too much exercise. Start slow and work your way toward higher mileages and/or more frequency.

Introduce high-intensity interval training into your running routine. Alternate, pace, speed, tempo and rest periods during a single running session. For example, keep a steady pace for a mile and then sprint run for 30 seconds. Do this for several cycles and notice how your heart rate and muscle fatigue threshold increase.

Every great journey starts with a single step; now just put one foot in front of the other to see how far this new journey takes you. Welcome to the wonderful world of running. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the benefits of running.

Remember Lyn Lake Chiropractic is the Official Chiropractor of the Twin Cities Marathon. Runner's treating Runners. Specialize in running injuries. Call for a Free Consult! 612-879-8000

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