For a long time, running was for weirdos. It wasn’t always like it is today. Today, we’re used to people pushing past us on the sidewalk, dressed in neon and kitted out with iPods and FitBits. It’s normal that everybody looks like cyborg highlighters. And in America, the metric system is basically kept alive by 5k races alone. But back in the 60s, running was so unusual that it had to be explained to people.
On October 15, 1968, the Chicago Tribune devoted an entire page to a strange new trend: “Jogging: The Newest Road to Fitness.” A typical recreational runner, Andre Mandeville, ran 11-minute miles. He also smoked three to four packs of cigarettes a day. That same year, in New York, runners like Dick Cordier got ticketed for “illegal use of the highway by a pedestrian.” And in Connecticut, Ray Crothers was chased by five squad cars cruising the streets because he was running. Small town athletes suffered too, women especially. One woman wrote that there was nothing odder than a woman jogging in a small town.
She decided to swim instead. Athletes always ran, but for recreation, it was rare. Boxers, track stars, and soldiers, sure, but normal people rarely ran before the late 60s. It wasn’t just odd outdoors, either. The most infamous use of a treadmill wasn’t in a gym but in prison. In 1895, the Chicago Tribune described a treadmill for its readers. It was “the great bugaboo of the English convict.” The prisoner in that case? The writer Oscar Wilde, who was serving a two-year sentence for sodomy. His hard labor included the treadmill. Long story short, you did not jump on the treadmill while watching House Hunters after work. Treadmills had been used as a power source for thousands of years, but in the 1820s, the Brixton prison made them famous as a tool in jails. If there was nothing for the treadmill to grind, they had it power a fan to grind the wind — yes, even prison treadmills had a difficulty setting.
And while treadmills were used by medical professionals and athletes in the 1900s, the prison treadmill was a symbol of what running meant: at worst, torture. At best, training. But by 1969, treadmills were being developed for home use, and that reflected the sea change that ultimately made jogging mainstream. The New York Times reported the reason inventor William Staub believed his mainstream treadmill could work. A 1968 book, Aerobics, convinced him of the health of an aerobic workout, and it was one of many books that pointed to jogging as a way to get fit. Much of the credit for jogging specifically goes to legendary University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, who discovered cross-country jogging on a trip to New Zealand in 1962, after meeting with the pioneering runner and coach Arthur Lydiard.
Bowerman’s 1966 pamphlet was a hit, and it was followed by a massively popular book. Others followed — runners like Steve Prefontaine became celebrities, and writer/runners like Jim Fixx continued the 70s running boom with his books. Around the same time, a young company called Nike, cofounded by Bowerman, had financial incentives to push the new sport forward. Nike and other companies also meant those early jogging shoes and outfits got a lot better. And it’s continued that way to the present.
Race participation alone has quadrupled since 1990, and there’s almost no shame about incredibly colorful tights and talking about your quads to strangers. It’s become a sign of political vigor. But even in the 60s, people like Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall were confident that jogging’s “here to stay.” It turns out they had a good reason. As another runner put it in 1968, “At first you think everyone is staring at you—and they are. After a while, you enjoy jogging so much that you don’t give a damn.” I’m a runner myself, really slow, but technically a runner, and that might be why I find some of these anecdotes amusing.
One of my favorites is from 1968 when Senator Strom Thurmond was running around Greenville, South Carolina and he was followed by a squad car because he was suspicious…jogging.
As found on Youtube
Think of food as fuel, not as something to fear, or something to put into buckets of “good” and “bad.” Every one of us is different and we all are going to follow different kinds of eating patterns And the key is to find a balance that works for you.
So what should you eat before your run or your workout? Now, for shorter runs, things that, for distances that are going to take you 30 minutes or less, maybe even 45 minutes or less, you may not need to eat anything beforehand. You may feel completely fine. But for longer distances, you’re going to want some fuel beforehand. You want mostly carbohydrates, remember, not a four-letter word a little bit of protein for some satiety. You want to make sure it’s not super high in fat or fiber and then, of course, you want to drink some fluids. Think about how much time you have before you actually start running, and that’s kind of going to help you decide how large of a meal you’re going to have. You want to try out different foods, see what works well for you personally.
And then when you find something stick with it. When should you fuel during a run? If it lasts more than 60 minutes So, again, on shorter runs, stick with water. For longer runs, you want quick, fast energy. This is the only time where I’m going to tell you to eat a lot of sugar. You want things that are going to digest quickly, not sit in your stomach, so it’s mostly just carbs. So, you may choose to alternate water and Gatorade along the course, and that may be all that you need. But if you feel like during your training you want to play around with some blocks, some gels, you know you can go to any sports store. You know, if you prefer not to use something that’s pre-packaged, you can use something like raisins, you can have a banana, You know those little applesauce squeeze pouches, you can have something like that as well. Chocolate milk has three things that your body needs after a run.
Three main things. First, it has carbohydrates to help refuel your muscles. Second, it has protein to help rebuild and repair your muscles. And then third, it has the fluids along with the sodium to help with hydration.
Running is one of those exercises that simultaneously sounds ridiculously easy, and challenging all at the same time, especially when you’re first starting out. I’ve been running off and on for a couple of years now and only in the past couple of months have I felt like I’ve finally unlocked the key to a successful run.
Here are 5 things that I wish that I knew when I was first starting out running. First, let’s talk about your running gear. Of course, running is gear is subjective, and it, therefore, may take a bit of experimenting to figure out what works for you.
The two pieces of gear that I wish I had got right from the very beginning are A) a good pair of running shoes and B) my flip belt.
Shoes, like feet, come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are built for a high arch, while others are built for trails, some shoes are even built to mimic the barefoot.
There’s a variation of running shoes for just about every scenario. Taking all of this into account, shoes that work for me may not work for you and vice versa. But that being said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when you chose a shoe.
Are you able to wiggle your toes? You should be able to. Is your foot snug? It should be, but not too tight. Do you overpronate or under pronate when you run? If you’re not sure about how your feet actually move when you run, I highly suggest going to a specialty running store near you to get fitted for a shoe. It might cost a little bit more, but there they can stick you on a treadmill and actually record how you run and then they can stick you in a shoe that’s personalized for you and your feet.
Now let’s talk about the flip belt. Before I had a belt I would struggle to find a place for all the things that I carry when I run.
I don’t really carry a lot, but my keys, my ID, and phone are items that I like to keep with me even when I run. Armbands were often too small for my phone, overpriced, and usually didn’t have space for my keys. Workout clothes very often don’t come with pockets (WTF sports clothing industry).
After doing a bit of research, I came across a flipbelt, which I ordered almost instantly. It’s a belt that you wear when you exercise that has snug pouches all the way through it. The pouches are big enough for my phone, snug enough to keep my ID and other cards in place, and it even has a clasp to hang my keys on as I run. It doesn’t slide up my body as I run, even with my current 10-inch difference between my waist and hips, and I’ve never lost an item to date.
The second thing I wish I knew when I first started running is actually about food. It took me forever to figure out what and when to eat before I went on a run. Should I eat a big meal or should I only eat a snack? Should I eat anything at all? When should I eat? etc. The truth is, like gear, it is subjective. For me personally, I find that there are two things that work well for me.
The first is a short, fast run first thing in the morning. If I’m running without eating anything, I generally can’t go for a very long time, and it pretty much has to be right when I wake up, otherwise, I get extremely lightheaded and nauseous.
But after a fast run in the morning, I’ve actually found that I have quite a bit of energy, and it makes me feel extremely productive and ready to take on the day. The second thing I found that works really well for me is having a light, carb-rich snack somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes before a run. Usually, for me, this means a banana or an apple or something of that variety. I found that a light snack gives me a good amount of energy to power through cardio, but it doesn’t make me feel sick or heavy like a large meal would.
The third thing I wish I knew when I first started running was what apps to use.
As a beginner, all of the apps that are available for you to use can be really overwhelming, and it’s difficult to figure out which exactly you’ll actually end up using. For me personally, there are three apps that I use frequently that I wish I had from the very beginning. Keep in mind, I’m running android, and these apps might be different on iOS and/or be better or worse on one platform versus another.
The first is called Runtastic. Truth is, Runtastic is one of the millions of tracking apps that tell you your pace, gives you a map of where you’ve gone, give you audio cue to let you know how many miles or kilometers you’ve done, how many calories you’ve burned, and so on and so forth. I really enjoy the simple, easy-to-understand interface, and I’ve never had any bugs or issues pop up with this particular app when I’ve had those things happen frequently on other tracking apps.
The second is Couch to 5k. If you’re wanting to start running when you have absolutely no running background, this app is for you. This app essentially takes you through intervals of jogging and walking to slowly build up your endurance over the course of a couple of weeks. It’s very easy to use, very simple to understand, and it’s a godsend if you’re just starting out.
The third is Zombies, run! Zombies, run! is a unique app that is basically an interactive podcast that you listen to as you run. The premise behind it is that there’s a zombie apocalypse that is occurring, and you’re one of the runners for a small township that is trying to stay protected from the horde, and you have to collect virtual items for the township as you run. Basically, you’re running from zombies. It’s a fun app that turns running into a real-life game that you’re trying to win instead of a chore that you have to do. The last two things I wish I knew when I was first starting out running kind of go hand in hand, and they are pace and motivation.
When you’re starting out running for the first time, it’s really easy to jump the gun and start running at an above-average pace, especially when you might not be familiar with what your own personal average pace is. But after a couple of blocks, if you’re running too fast, you’ll feel that burn in your lungs, your heart racing in an uncomfortable way, and it will feel impossible to catch your breath. Then you’ll slow down, stop, try to breathe, and feel so frustrated with yourself and defeated because you thought you were stronger than that. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be to slow down. Take notice of how fast you’re moving when you’re walking a brisk walk, how easy it is to hold a conversation.
Very slowly, increase your pace to the lightest of jogs and get comfortable with your body moving at that pace. Breathe. Instead of trying to go at a lightning fast pace, try focusing on how far you can go instead. And the hardest part about running isn’t even your leg giving out, or the sweat pouring down your face, or your earbud popping out in the middle of it all; It’s your body telling you to stop, and that it’s too hard.
My trick around this is to tell myself “I’ll just take a break at the end of this song.” and then when the song ends, i will tell myself “Oh, I can make it to that light pole up ahead.” and then when I get there, “Oh, let’s just get around the corner of this block first, and then we’ll take a break.” The truth is, my body always tells me I can’t do it, and every time I try my hardest to tell it that it’s wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and that’s okay too. At the end of the day, when I finish a run, no matter how far I went or how it goes, I feel proud of myself because at least I proved that I could get up and move.
At the end of the day, running, for me, is the embodiment of me telling my body who’s in charge, and that I won’t stop until I say so.
In my 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have never, note NEVER, met anyone who could not lose weight no matter how hard they tried. Unfailingly, clients who could not lose weight were making crucial mistakes that were preventing them from success. Unfortunately, many people are in such denial about their exercise, eating and lifestyle habits, that they convince themselves they are doing everything they can to lose weight, while deep inside (deep inside) they know this is not the truth.
Here are my top 5 reasons for lack of weight loss:
You have no patience. Someone somewhere- maybe a fitness magazine, or an ad for a weight loss supplement, or maybe Biggest Loser, convinced you that losing 3-5 pounds a week is doable and expected. NO. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Expect no more than 2 pounds per week of real fat loss, and also expect staggered weeks of no weight loss, then loss. I have seen so many people GIVE UP on weight loss just before the body is ready to give the fat up. Your body does not shed fat easily- have patience. Eating well and exercising daily are their own rewards, but weight loss will happen if you do the work and maintain consistency.
Your job and life are sedentary. The biggest impact on metabolism and calorie expenditure is from our day to day activities- not exercise. It is amazing how many people will exercise one hour a day, but then sit, literally sit, for the remaining 13 hours. If you are trying to lose weight- then become a calorie expending machine throughout the day. Jog to the car, jog up stairs, walk an extra loop around the parking lot, fidget, get up and down from your chair. Do not conserve energy- expend it! Then, add vigorous exercise to top if off.
You walk as your primary source of exercise. Unless you are a true beginner and very deconditioned, walking is not a great calorie expending form of exercise. And, to boot, most people walk at a very slow pace, and pay no attention to how hard they are working. The harder you work- the more calories you burn, and the more likely you are to raise your metabolism. Weight loss necessitates HARD exercise- where your heart rate is up, you are sweating, and you feel like you are really exerting yourself. If you walk for exercise and do not feel like this- then you need to change things up. Research has shown that high intensity cardio intervals are a much better way to expend calories, are much more time efficient, and are safe for most everyone, even the deconditioned. You WILL need help designing an interval program, so ask a fitness professional how to begin.
You do not lift heavy enough weights while weight training. Big problem here. Women are especially prone to this error. Weight training is one of the two keys to weight loss success (key #1 below!). You should be lifting maximally- to failure in some cases, and not just your arms, or the parts you “don’t like”. You must create systemic stress working the major muscles of the body to create changes in body fat and lean tissue to create weight loss. For example, squats, rows, bench presses, lunges, dead lifts are all multi muscle group exercises that crank the metabolism and change bodies. The inner and outer thigh machine will never do that!
And, the #1 reason you aren’t losing-can’t/won’t lose-weight:
You do not pay close enough attention to nutrition. It is amazing to me what people think is “good nutrition”? Not eating all day, skipping breakfast, eating bagels and low-fat muffins? Or, you go on a ridiculously strict regimen (because you have no patience -see #5) and then crash and burn and overeat for days. Or, you are great all week, then overindulge on the weekends (research has shown most people overeat by 35% on weekends), thinking you “deserve” it. Healthy nutrition ALWAYS results in achievement of a normal weight. But healthy nutrition is not about under eating then over eating, not about good and bad foods, not about any gimmicks or supplements- it is about moderation and proper fuelling. Smaller portions, frequent meals, reduction in refined/ high glycaemic carbohydrates, increase in lean proteins and vegetables and healthy fats, low alcohol intake- these are the keys to good nutrition. And, for goodness sake, keep a nutrition log! Anyone who is not willing to do a food log is someone who will not lose weight. Period.