Whether you have taken up running to lose weight, to improve fitness, to relieve stress, to compete, or just to kill time, you'll find that the benefits are many.
No doubt you're looking for "the best way" to run, and we can point you in the right direction. Keep in mind, though, that there are few universal truths to running. Everything depends on the individual, and techniques that some runners swear by might not be right for you. Experiment, find what makes you comfortable. It's not terribly complicated: the only hard and fast rule to running is that you simply keep putting one foot ahead of the other.
Benefits of Running
Why did you decide to start? Most likely your answer includes feeling better--physically, mentally, emotionally. Running is among the best aerobic exercises for physical conditioning of your heart and lungs. Studies have shown the health benefits to be enormous, reducing the likelihood of everything from the common cold to cancer. Your stamina will increase. You'll lose weight; most beginners lose nearly a pound a week.
Just as important, running--like many forms of exercise -- is a great cure for stress, emotional strain, even mild depression. You'll likely find yourself with fewer headaches and more energy, patience, humor and creativity. Studies have found that healthy adults who exercise regularly are generally happier than those who don't.
And running, quite simply, is convenient. You don't need any elaborate gear. No special playing field or apparatus. No need to juggle the schedules of others. Just a pair of shoes and the inclination to get out the door.
Rewards of the Spirit
You've probably started running for the physical benefits, but you will quickly discover other, more metaphysical rewards. Yep, no kidding: Metaphysical. Health reasons may be why most start running, but it's the less tangible benefits that finally motivate us to persist, to become "runners."
While running can be a social activity, it is more frequently an opportunity to spend a little time with yourself and your thoughts, a chance to develop an increased self-awareness. As you become more aware of the nuances and condition of your own body, you also discover things about your inner self.
Many say they are at their most creative and lucid, even meditative, during their runs, as the worries of the day slip away. Confidence increases as you push your own limits, meeting goals and often surprising yourself by exceeding your own expectations. Running is a sport of discipline, sometimes of sacrifice, and always of self-reliance. You may surprise yourself with your capacity for all three. The personal rewards can be quite powerful.