Catherina McKiernan: Get out and breathe in the joys of spring
One of my sister's rang me last week all excited. She explained that she had started running six weeks ago and already had completed a 5k.
My sister Rose has four children and, like many women around the country, has devoted her life to motherhood. Now, as her family is getting older and more independent, she has time to pursue her own interests.
She is experiencing that feelgood factor that running gives. I think we get addicted to running because we can perform an activity without self-criticism that benefits our mind and body. With spring in the air, now is a time for you to consider running.
The great thing about it is you don't need special skills, expensive gear or athletic ability. All running requires is a pair of comfortable shoes and a little determination. The first step is always the hardest and that is why I'm inviting you to take it. I guarantee you won't regret it. Indeed there are so many benefits to running that it can become your friend.
* It gives you the chance to become a healthier you;
*It helps you to de-stress;
* It allows you some 'me' time to be alone with your thoughts;
* It will make you feel better because running releases endorphins;
* Running also helps fight bone and muscle loss, lowers your blood pressure and helps you lose weight.
Overall, when you are running regularly you will feel more aware of your health and start considering the quantity and quality of food you consume. The bottom line to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume, no matter how much exercise you do.
I have a little advice if you are starting out this year – less is more. Begin with a really easy 'walk-run' programme. It is so easy to get turned off by doing too much, too soon. The body rebels when this happens and you can easily decide running is not for you.
If you feel out of breath or sick you are running too fast, cut yourself some slack. Slow down and take more walk breaks. You will learn that running should be a relaxed, enjoyable activity and that you should 'train, not strain'.
Find your own level. One day that might be half a mile without stopping, the next day it might be twice or maybe just half that.
Think of all the positives you get by being out there – fresh air, a little communing with nature and an improvement in how you feel.
There are programmes you can follow and it's best to go gently into this new adventure.
Be sure to space out the training days to give yourself a chance to rest and recover. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now, focus on gradually increasing the time or distance.
To finish I will give you an example of what might work for you starting out. Select the amount of time you plan to jog/run for, let's say 30 minutes. Start with a five-minute, brisk walk to warm up. Then, when you feel ready, start to jog. If you get out of breath slow down and keep jogging, or walk again until you catch your breath. This could take one to two minutes. Once you feel comfortable, go ahead and jog again until you feel you need to walk.
Repeat this series of walking/jogging intervals for 30 minutes, or whatever duration you select. If you stick with this you will find, over time, that you can increase the jogging intervals and decrease the walking intervals.
Lastly, just enjoy your new pursuit and before you know it, you will be a happier and healthier person.