What leads you to be healthier mentally and physically, lessens your stress load, and improves the strength in your muscles AND bones? No, this isn’t a magic supplement. It’s running!
Jogging is an amazing form of exercise for many reasons. First, you can do it practically anywhere – no special equipment or machinery needed. It allows you to explore cities new and old, get lost in the beauty of nature, and lets you feel free in your surroundings. Studies show that running helps fight fatigue, gives you a boost of energy, strengthens everything from your core to your calves, and makes you mentally tougher.
Running is also one of those activities that lends itself to goal-setting. Experts say that people who set and meet long-term fitness goals (for instance, signing up for a 5K or half marathon) end up being more satisfied with their workout routine – and their lives more generally – than those who work out sporadically, without goals, or not at all. It turns out that the feeling you get when you cross an accomplishment off your to-do list has some real benefits!
When it comes to setting goals, of course, you need to plan out a way to get there. When running is concerned, it’s critical to have a training plan.
While you may prefer to accomplish your goals in a more free-spirited manner, hear us out on this one. There are so many benefits to following a training plan… and they aren’t solely confined to running. These training benefits apply to any fitness obstacle – climbing a particular mountain, swimming a certain distance, or lifting a specific amount of weight.
To start off, training gives your workout a whole new meaning. While the general goal of “being in shape” can get stale, working towards a concrete distance, speed, or date gives you the little bit of pressure you need to truly improve. Circle that final date on your calendar and schedule in your runs or workouts accordingly. Check off each one as you accomplish them – you’ll love the feeling.
Training also forces you to try new things. One day might call for speed work (while you typically lean towards relaxing, longer jogs) while another might call for cross-training in the form of swimming or spinning. Your plan might force you to give your body a break from the running grind with a bit of yoga or foam rolling to stretch out your muscles. No matter where your plan takes you, know that you’ll never be bored!
As you move through your training, you’ll find a common theme – a training plan always emphasizes improvement. While it can be easy to get in a rut doing the same workout each day, training ensures you’ll always be pushing your body towards its breaking point and into the zone of self-betterment.
In this way, training helps you realize how strong you truly are. It turns out that you don’t have a limit – you can always keep improving! While you may have thought a 4-mile jog was your maximum at one point, your training teaches you that you can conquer – and exceed – a much higher mileage.
With all these benefits, now seems like the perfect time to pick a goal and train towards it. Remember, with any training plan you choose, you don’t need to conform to it completely. Use it as a guideline, always improve, and above all else, enjoy! You’ll feel like your best self – we promise.
Do you enjoy training for races or other milestones? How do you accomplish your best feats? Let us know in the comments below.