I have recently discovered running. Well, I say recently; I have dabbled in it before, and I have been using a treadmill for a long time, but it is only in the past few weeks that I have embraced running outdoors. And I have found it to be strangely addictive; strangely because like most forms of exercise it can be fairly punishing, but the more I do it, the more I want to do it. In common with many others, the desire to reduce the time and increase the distance is becoming compulsive.
Unlike most other sports, running doesn’t require any other equipment. Suitable clothing is beneficial, but no bats, balls or specialist locations are needed. Just yourself almost anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are a city dweller or live in the country – although both locations have their own particular hazards: traffic and aggressive cattle respectively, for example.
Most forms of clothing can be worn, but to avoid being weighed down and being distracted by bits flapping around, lightweight, simple clothing is recommended. Running hard can be sweaty, so fabrics that don’t get bogged down are a good idea.
It is worthwhile thinking about what you put on your feet, both for speed and for the prevention of injuries. Running shoes are a growth market, partly because they have become fashionable, so there is plenty of choice. Such a plethora of products can make choosing the right pair confusing, but initially comfort is important. Thereafter the niceties of pronation, cushioning, breathability (the shoe – not you), weight (again, the shoe not you), and so on can be considered.
As in most aspects of modern life, technology has managed to make its contribution. You don’t need to use it of course, but I find it very helpful to analyse my performance, to help to refine and improve it. There are many fitness trackers and smartphone apps that can do just that. They can show pace, speed, distance and breaking down your performance into segments.
One of the truisms of running a specific course is that at the beginning when you are feeling fresh you tend to run faster. The drawback is that you can tire yourself out too soon, leaving nothing in reserve for the later stages. I have just been on a 5 kilometre run where, inadvertently, I thought I did just that. But when I looked at my pace on my app, I found that my speed was pretty consistent and that my fastest section was in fact in the fourth kilometre. Technology therefore has saved me having to refine that aspect of my running in that instance.
There are of course pre defined running distances - 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon and so on, but everyone has the freedom to run for as long or as little as they like. It really is the most egalitarian of activities.