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The Beginners Guide to Being a Runner

This weekend I had the pleasure of running my first race by the NYRR. Now, this was only four miles, but a big accomplishment for me. A year ago I was unable to run a mile without having to stop, and to run four, at a fairly decent pace without stopping once was exhilarating! I started running last year because I felt I had exhausted many years on the stairmaster and my body was looking forward to something different. With gym memberships costing between $30-$60 a month, I was also looking for a more economical way to get my workout in. I decided to start running because I wanted to breathe in the fresh air and challenge myself each workout by going farther than I had the day before. Also, all I needed for running was a good pair of running shoes!

I had started off with a goal of just moving for half an hour straight. I was mainly doing a lot of speed walking and jogging during the half hour, anything as long as I was able to keep my heart rate up. At least I knew I was getting out there and moving my body. I remember that within two months, my clothes were already feeling loser on me.

I find running to be the total workout, which works all the muscles in your body. Depending on your weight, people can burn more than 250 calories in one hour of jogging or running. “In “Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running,” published last December in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a group of Syracuse University researchers measured the actual calorie burn of 12 men and 12 women while running and walking 1,600 meters (roughly a mile) on a treadmill. Result: The men burned an average of 124 calories while running, and just 88 while walking; the women burned 105 and 74 (runnersworld.com) “

To find out how many calories you can burn while running use the formula below:

Your Total Calorie Burn/Mile Your Net Calorie Burn/Mile
Running .75 x your weight (in lbs.) .63 x your weight

While running, you can also alternate speed intervals, which helps your body burn way more calories by shocking your metabolism.

When buying your first pair of running sneakers, there a few things you should take into consideration. First off, buy running shoes that work with your foot type. If you have flat feet, find a running sneaker that will keep you stable during the motions of running. If you have a high arched foot, look for a running sneaker that if flexible, will move with your foot, and also provides adequate cushioning. If you have neutral feet, pick a shoe that works best for you, one that will provide good support, but will not dig into your arch. Buying the right type of running sneaker will increase your chances for a more beneficial run.

When running, what you wear on your body is just as important as what you are wearing on your feet. It is not suggested that you wear very loose clothing, as you would not want to get caught on anything while you’re outside. Also, it is not recommended that you wear very heavy clothing, such as fleece pants or a heavy sweatshirt. When running my race, it was a cold 32 degrees outside in Central Park, however I was able to keep very warm with my wind resistant, full sleeved shirt and thick, but not heavy workout pants. These are actually very inexpensive items and quite worth the investment if you live in a windy city.

One very important part of running can often be neglected. This is stretching. The last thing you want to do is run 2 miles and then get a charlie horse in the middle of the night all because you didn’t take 3 minutes out to stretch. Not only is it important to stretch before you start your run, but it is almost more important after you are done with your run (or any other exercise).

A few stretches to do before and after running:

  • Sit down on the floor with your legs outstretched, shoulder width apart. Touch your right hand to the tip of your left toes, hold for a count of ten. Next, touch your left hand to the tip of your right toes, hold for a count of ten.
  • Stand up straight, bend over and reach as far as you can towards your toes. Once you feel strain, hold at this point for a count of ten.
  • Stand up straight, bend your right leg back and hold with your hand for a count of ten. Repeat with the left leg.
  • Lastly, let’s look at one more very important, overlooked aspect of running. This is the breathing process. Now, if you are looking to get a good cardio burn, I suggest you run at a pace where it is hard to hold a conversation. Breathing patterns tend to differ with each style of running. Try to breathe in a consistent matter, and avoid panting. If you are training for a marathon, you want to inhale and exhale through your mouth. “Inhaling through your mouth means intake of more oxygen than the nose” (ehow.com). If you are sprinting, or running short distances (100 meters or less), you want to practice holding your breath for these short spurts. This way you are not overworking your diaphragm and cause soreness in your neck. Learning how to breathe properly when running can make your run more efficient and enjoyable.

    So, why not do something good for yourself and clear your mind with a run. After all, what other work out would be challenging, inexpensive, and can be done virtually anywhere!


    Kanwal Ullah is getting ready for a run.

    12 thoughts on “The Beginners Guide to Being a Runner

    1. you forgot, keep hydrated! that one is a no brainer though. :) …I enjoyed this article. With the economic crunch, I am trying to save money, and ending the gym membership is looking like a good goal!

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    5. I Liked reading this post. Quite some usefull fitness info in it for me :). And after reading this i think you will really like the book Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle. To me this is like the health and fitness bible. Last year i lost almost 25 pounds and gained an inch on my arms in 12 weeks. What you describe here does resemble the book a bit, but there is so much more! I added the link in my name so you dont have to search for it ;). Again, nice post and i hope you keep it up!

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