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27 Benefits of Running – Michael Case

Running is one of the greatest gifts we have. It is truly universal, (almost) everyone can do it and it’s easily done in isolation.

The world is a little crazy right now. It’s hard to know what to do, but one thing I know for sure, is that exercise will always be the best option for for physical and mental health. Dozens and dozens of people have spoken to me about running lately…. with sport, gyms and any gathering on hold, running is one of our last resorts!

I am lucky enough to have been a part of hundreds and hundreds of running journeys (with clients) over the years; as much as I love programming athletes and recreational runners to improve and enjoy their running more, my greatest joy comes from inspiring others to take up running in whatever form suits their body, circumstances and goals.

Now more than ever, we need to inspire others to find a way to lace up, step outside (safely) and feel the joy of running. I will post one running photo a day with a different benefit of what running will do for you. It’s a project I feel strongly about and one that I hope people share to help others through this strange time. If it inspires, educates, resonates or helps anyone in anyway, it will be entirely worth it.

A huge thank you must go to Reece Sidney (who kept his distance well), for collaborating on this project for all the 📷!

I am also lucky to have worked with some amazing brands (and small businesses) who need all the support they can get in times like these, they will be tagged in all the posts too. Certainly not for my financial gain, purely because they do an amazing job and only exist to help other people at every opportunity.

Keep running 🏃 and I hope you enjoy my 27 benefits of running 🙌  – Michael Case

01 | ISOLATION

It seems silly to start anywhere else! There are so many benefits of running, but ISOLATION is the most important topic right now. We all need to keep isolated where possible and running is one of the best forms of exercise to maintain social distancing. Running with mates or in events is always best, but the beauty of a lone run is it helps reduce stress, gives you an opportunity to listen to your favourite music (or that podcast you’ve been meaning to digest), just be with your own thoughts or it might simply be your only time out of the house right now.

Keep your distance from others but also get some distance in your legs. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

PS:- the best advice I have been given by an expert regarding running with our restrictions in 🇦🇺 is treat your distance to another person in the street like they are a smoker exhaling. If you are close enough to inhale or smell their smoke (up to 8m) then you’re too close.

02 | FREE

Running always has and always will be FREE. So many people have lost jobs, businesses and investments in the blink of an eye, yet running still costs exactly zero dollars! Granted you might need some new shoes, but you do not need to look like a sponsored athlete to get running. The old guys who still wear button up shirts and shorts from a few decades ago in running events I attend are always my heroes. They don’t run to be seen, they don’t do it to buy the latest clothes or gadgets – they do it for the love of running and because it costs nothing than some time and sweat.

Of course you can always utilise a coach (I happen to know an amazing one 🙋‍♂️😉) who will help you get faster and run further while keeping you entertained and injury free….. but if you know how to alternate your left and right foot repeatedly whilst breathing, you are 90% of the way there!

If you have lost your income, maybe before jumping online and paying money to a “celebrity” superstar with no qualifications pedalling a cheap and completely unpersonalised (and injury prone) program, try running. Start slow, start easy and remember, it has and will always be FREE.

03 | GO AT YOUR OWN PACE

This seems like the most simple advice, but it’s often overlooked! One of the benefits of running is that you can always GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. You don’t need to keep up with anyone, you don’t need to set any records and you don’t need your heart to explode out of your chest for it to constitute as running. If running is beyond you for any reason, start with walking and build towards a power walk. Everyone starts somewhere and if walking is all you are capable of right now, this 📷 series is still for you. Just replace “running” with “walking” for every benefit listed over the coming days.

Just like you wouldn’t wander into a gym and immediately lift a 250kg barbell, you don’t start running like Eliud Kipchoge and run a marathon in under two hours. Don’t feel trapped thinking that “running” equals working as hard as possible from the moment you leave your doorstep to the moment you return. That’s called stupidity or masochism, it most certainly is not the only way to run! Going too hard at anything nearly always leads to injury and why almost every recreational runner ends up hurting themselves. .

In fact going at a “reduced” pace (otherwise known as “low aerobic” pace) is the best thing for your body and helps improve mitochondrial density, which is one of the major building blocks for being able to run longer and faster. More on that later!

If running always equals a painful, breathless, sweaty and heart exploding activity to you, remember, just GO AT YOUR OWN PACE and pull it back a bit. You’ll be amazed how much more you’ll enjoy it, but you’ll be more amazed by how much the process of learning to go slow will actually help you to eventually go faster. Trust me!

04 | STRESS RELIEF

Do you get the feeling stress levels are a little elevated in most people right now?!! 

Running is the ultimate STRESS RELIEF. There are many benefits that we will discuss later that help reduce stress (endorphins, mood, sleep, energy levels, heart health, mindset etc), but one of the major stress relievers simply comes down to “switching off”. We spend hours on screens every day, staring at pixels with poor body positions and sedentary lifestyles. Add to this the stress of work, bosses, phones ringing, messages pinging, distractions, responsibilities, meetings (or ZOOM meetings these days!) and the pressure starts to build. Then we have family, financial and life commitments… you can see how the stress adds up.

When you run, there are no screens. When you run, there are no bosses. When you run, there are no screaming children (depending on where you run!). When you run, the stress of the day melts away. If you need some STRESS RELIEF, lace up at the end of the day instead of sitting in front of another screen and head out for a run.

05 | DISCIPLINE

The pain of DISCIPLINE is better than the pain of disappointment. Most chats around COVID and isolation have been of a similar trend – sitting on the couch for a few weeks, no routine, no exercise, no motivation. As normal as that is, people look for excuses in anything… I couldn’t do it because of COVID, I couldn’t do it because it’s the seventh Tuesday of the month and my cat’s star sign is in retrograde! Come up with whatever excuse you want, it often comes down to priorities and discipline.

Discipline isn’t easy. It takes practice and there are many factors that make it easier. Much like lifting that 250kg weight, you need to start with a 2.5kg weight and build up. My Top 3 tips for building DISCIPLINE are:

  1. Know your reason WHY. With a strong WHY you can achieve anything and in the moments where you lack motivation it keeps you disciplined. I have never found a better motivator than knowing WHY you want something!
  2. Start with a simple goal. So many clients over the years have come to me with big ideas and no concept on how to achieve them. we would always start them with a simple goal of “in Week 1, just train three times this week, no matter what life throws at you”. That focus was the single best way to start on the road to better discipline and changing priorities.
  3. Accountability. If family or friends know your goal (and your WHY) they will keep you accountable. If you struggle with accountability, hire a professional – they will inspire you, cut through the excuses and keep you on track.

When the world resumes some form of normality, will you be enjoying the “pain” of DISCIPLINE, or will you be feeling the pain of disappointment? Did you take the opportunity to exercise (and get running) or did you waste it?

06 | NATURE

I have never seen more runners, walkers (plus dogs! 🐶) and bike riders in my life. We have definitely reached peak isolation exercise mode! 🦠 There are couples, families and housemates out exercising along all of the trails and even though the weather today was fairly average while I was running, there is no doubt this is the busiest I have ever seen them. Bike store owners also tell me they are the busiest they’ve ever been! They are selling up to 5 times more bikes than usual, plenty of baby/child carriers and doing a roaring trade in tyres, tubes, accessories and servicing for people dusting off forgotten bikes from the shed!

When we are stuck inside, we crave NATURE. 🌿 Fresh air, birds chirping, greenery and the natural smells of the outdoors are fundamental to our lives. Running is a beautiful way to interact with nature, especially if you are lucky enough to live near any parks, trails or pathways dedicated to runners or riders.

After taking a battering recently, nature is taking this opportunity to heal. There are many reports saying air pollution is down, waterways are clearer, and wildlife activity is increasing. This can be a time to enjoy things we might normally let pass us by.

Take this opportunity to reconnect with NATURE by finding a beautiful place to run. 🌿🏃

07 | UNIVERSAL

Running is truly the most UNIVERSAL activity we have. Not everyone has access to (or can afford) a swimming pool, a bike or the equipment needed to play sport.

If I asked you to name the Number 1 🥇 event at the Olympics (both men and women) I have no doubt you would not only give the same answer as everyone else, you would also know who has won the men’s event for the last three Olympics in a row! 🇯🇲 Being the “fastest woman or man” on the planet is a universal concept everyone can understand, no matter what your running level looks like.

Why does universality matter? When you share your goals with people, they help keep you accountable. But if they understand your goals, they are more likely to help and push you. Everyone understands what it’s like to run and even if they have never run far or fast, the concept remains the same. If your goal is to run a 5km or a marathon, friends and family will understand (to a certain extent) the sacrifice, discipline and training required to cross “your” finish line. You will also have more people to share the experience with, who are aiming for the same goal or who have already achieved it, which leads to more support and greater motivation to get it done.

We might speak different languages, but running is UNIVERSALLY understood all over the world. Draw on the inspiration of those who have gone before you and those you might one day inspire by lacing up and heading out for a run.

08 | WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

For over a decade, the American College of Sports Medicine has published the Top 10 trends in “fitness” each year. It always creates some buzz when the list drops… guess what has been at the top of the list for the last 4 out of 5 years? That’s right, WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY! Only HIIT (high intensity interval training) knocked it down to second spot in 2018 when everyone across the world suddenly thought they were time poor and 30-45 minute workouts were the only viable option (regardless of technique, ability, injury issues or fitness levels – don’t get me started!).

Wearable tech has changed the face of the fitness industry unlike anything else before it. Suddenly we can see so much data on our watches and phones. Rewind a decade or two we would need a lab to record what is now available on demand on a tiny screen. Technology can guide us through our workouts, which can improve technique and increase output like never before. It can even keep us safe, measuring vital statistics like heart data.

The greatest thing about wearable tech is actually not the hardware, but the software. We will talk about this later in the series, but for now, apps like Strava and Nike Run Club are connecting people all over the world. There is a genuine global fitness community and it is all thanks to wearable technology. Running is the major activity behind all these platforms and has been the biggest beneficiary of what GPS trackers and smart watches are capable of recording.

If you are lacking in motivation, feeling disconnected to the world, needing a new challenge where you can track your progress or simply looking to join the running revolution, WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY has been up the top for the last 5 years for a very good reason!

09 | ENDORPHINS & RUNNER’S HIGH

When you exercise, your body releases a chemical called ENDORPHINS. Endorphins can interact with receptors in your brain to reduce the feeling of pain, but the most commonly discussed effect is the euphoric feeling often referred to as the RUNNER’S HIGH.

That’s right! I’ve never heard of a Playstation high, a watching Netflix high or a lawn bowls high!! The term “runner’s high” is used across the world and the effects are incredible – a mood and energy boost for at least two to three hours and some even greater benefits that last longer. Reduced stress, assisting with anxiety or depression, a boost of self esteem and greatly improved sleep.

COVID-19 has caused many people to struggle with many things running might well help with. Lace up, go for a run and get your legs and heart pumping so those ENDORPHINS start pumping to the brain. The natural RUNNER’S HIGH is real and it’s free, but the benefits are priceless!

10 | GOALS

If people who worked in the fitness industry had a dollar for every time we heard someone join a gym or fitness program and say “I want to get fit and lose weight” we would be millionaires many, many times over!! 💰 Unfortunately “getting fit” means different things to different people and as an overall GOAL it’s hard to plan for and even harder to achieve. Am I fit yet??!?! ⁉️

When a client comes to me with a goal of “I want to run the City to Bay” it’s much more tangible. We know exactly how far they need to run and exactly when they have to do it. All we need to match up is their expectations of what their body is capable of, if “finishing” or a set time is the goal and what sort of training (and time) they can dedicate to completing it.

This is why running goals are fantastic. They are so easy to understand and although progress is never linear, you can see the results so clearly. Running further, running faster and losing weight are the three main metrics most people look at, but fitness professionals usually look at the most important numbers like heart rate, body fat percentage and other health and risk factors that running helps to improve.

If ISO 🦠 boredom is getting you down, think about setting a running GOAL. Pick a distance, pick a time, pick a speed, pick a terrain or pick a course. Set that GOAL, create a plan, tell some key people about it to keep you accountable, lace up and get running!

11 | EVENTS

If you ask runners what they are missing the most right now, most would answer EVENTS! In Australia we have entered the recreational running season and yet there are no events on the calendar for the foreseeable future. Most runners are still training in the hope that events occur later in the year.

Events are incredible for so many reasons. As we discussed in the last benefit, it gives a tangible goal where you know exactly when and how far you need to run. They also give an opportunity for family and friends to come and cheer you on, throughout the race and over the finish line, sharing the special moment with you. If you have run in an event, you’ll know the electric feeling of lining up with hundreds or thousands of other competitors and that moment when you cross the start line with adrenaline pumping. Many participants have run their first few kilometres much faster than planned because of this group uplift and some have paid the price for it later in races! Events are also an opportunity to set a PB/PR (personal best/record) which drives many people to keep entering events year after year to keep “racing against themselves”.

Signing up for an event is the single best thing you can do if you want to chase a goal. It draws a line in the sand and signals to the world that you are going to achieve it. Once you’ve paid the entry fee you have no choice but to train for it! Sometimes it’s the difference between completing a training session or not and it can often stop you from over indulging with certain food and drinks! So jump online and find a race for later in the year, pay that entry fee and start your training with that extra shot of motivation signing up for an EVENT brings.

12 | MEDALS

After talking about events yesterday, it seems appropriate to talk about MEDALS today! 🏅

One of the best parts of finishing a race is there will always be someone waiting to hang a medal around your neck. Medals are a tangible reward for your hard work and although it might not be as good as Olympic Gold, it’s a permanent reminder of the training, the sacrifice, the dedication and sometimes the pain required to earn that bit of metal.Medals also act as a reminder of what you can achieve. Often that can be the catalyst to take on a new challenge, knowing that you have been through the tough training before. Even better, they can act as inspiration for others, who might see your medal(s) and decide they would like one of their own! The hashtag of #medalmonday is a common way of sharing a photo of what you have achieved that weekend and a great hashtag to follow to see what people are capable of in the global running community. It’s rarely elite athletes sharing these photos. More often, it’s everyday people who are proud of what they are achieved who are still still enjoying the high of receiving that MEDAL.

13 | APPS

Given the world is in isolation, APPS are one of our best resources right now. They allow us to create online communities and support each other without the need for physical interaction.

@strava is one of the leading apps when it comes to running (and cycling) communities, but @nikerunning, @runkeeper, @uamapmyrun and @myfitnesspal are other examples of excellent apps that track and help motivate you to run. Strava is built around community interaction, with “followers” able to give “kudos” or comment on any of your activities. There is also a competitive element with “segments” all over the world where anyone can compete to get the best time over that distance for the day, year or all-time. It is a powerful platform and users have even coined the term of “if it isn’t on Strava, it didn’t happen”! This relates to the accountability factor, proving to others that you have completed the activity, but also keeps you honest because your time, distance and other metrics are displayed.

Couch to 5k is an appropriately named app because it has helped so many people do exactly that! By following a prescribed formula, someone can go from sitting on the couch to eventually running 5km thanks to gradual increases in distance and pace, with changes in recovery time. Although apps never replace a qualified professional, they can offer a decent starting point for anyone who is entering the world of running for the first time.

If you are looking for some support and community right now, Strava is a great place to start, or download another APP that suits your goals and head out for a run.

14 | PODCASTS

This might seem like a strange benefit but running is the perfect activity to take advantage of advances in technology. PODCASTS 🎧 are a brilliant way to learn, be entertained, or escape, and better yet, they’re free! You can pack hundreds of hours onto your phone and hard-drives are so advanced these days you can even store them on your smart watch. Isolation 🦠 has amplified the growth of the podcast industry, but it means there has never been a better time to search for the topics or the people you are most interested in. Comedians will keep you entertained, there are countless shows to educate you on whatever you want to learn, true crime has become a massive genre (and fits podcasting perfectly) and the sports and fitness industry have been podcasting for years! There have been many times I have finished a run laughing the whole way or having learned new things that make me a better and more informed athlete.

If you feel like running is hard work or not worthy of your time, multitask and pick a PODCAST. You’ll get fit and learn something at the same time!

15 | WEIGHT LOSS

Many might have expected this to be higher on the list of benefits, as it is the most common reason why people start running. If WEIGHT LOSS is your only reason to run, it rarely lasts long and has a lower chance of success. All the other benefits are often the reason to enjoy and keep running. Weight loss is a byproduct that occurs after some consistent effort and progress. To be clear, “weight loss” isn’t the term that should be used, but it is the most commonly understood. You are actually looking to achieve “fat loss”, because you don’t want to lose muscle mass. 99% of people don’t actually care what they weigh, they just want to fit into a smaller pair of pants and that comes from losing fat and gaining muscle. Always keep that in mind if you are looking to transform your body. Also important to note, depending on how much you need to lose, it is wise to work with an exercise professional to keep you safe.

Running is successful for weight loss for two main reasons – calories and mindset. Running burns more calories than most exercises as it is very vigorous. The more calories you burn, the more likely you are to end up in a calorie deficit and lose weight. Mindset, however, is the most interesting change. Often people start to approach their health and nutrition differently when they start running consistently. One of the first changes is attempting to eat more nutritious food for energy and performance and the second is steering away from less nutritious food because of the knowledge of how hard (or for how long) they need to run to burn those calories off!

If WEIGHT LOSS is your aim, make sure you stick to all the other benefits first and foremost. Immerse yourself in those and learn to enjoy running because that is the only way you will continue doing it, which is the only way to ensure you are consistent enough to lose body fat. Countless people have achieved life changing results through running and so can you.

16 | TRAVEL

Although international travel 🌏 may be off limits for a while, we might be able to travel interstate at some stage again in the near future. Running is a fantastic way to TRAVEL to new places and take part in an event at the same time. Heading to a new or beloved city for an event adds extra motivation to the goal of finishing or hitting a new PB because of the added excitement that travel brings.

Many people I know who have traveled interstate or overseas for events (mostly marathons or long course triathlons) and often describe it as one of the best experiences of their life. Can you imagine running the New York, London or Boston marathon? These events bring hundreds of thousands of supporters out to the streets and even though they have never met you, they’ll be yelling your name in support (don’t worry, your name is on your race bib, they’re not stalking you!). What about traveling somewhere in Australia for your first half marathon? The best part is that if you time it right and complete the event at the start of the trip, you have the rest of the holiday to relax, enjoy and celebrate the medal you’ve earned.

Lots of races around the world have fundraising elements that can help you enter them without a qualifying time and others have tour groups that will look after every aspect of your running holiday. These options are also a great way to meet other like minded runners who have traveled in search of an amazing experience.

If you are dreaming of the moment when we are allowed to head off on holidays again, spend some time googling some running events you can TRAVEL for. You might go somewhere unexpected and it will lead to some of the best memories of your life!

17 | ENERGY LEVELS

Yes, doing something that many people see as tiring (and hard work) will actually improve your ENERGY LEVELS! 📈

There are many differing scientific reasons for why this occurs. A study from University of Georgia showed that 20 minutes of exercise, three times a week, gave a 20% boost in energy levels and helped reduce fatigue by up to 50%. Other studies report that exercise will lead to more sound and restful sleep. This is because we spend more time in deep sleep, which is our most restorative phase. Many mental health organisations (like Beyond Blue, Black Dog etc) recommend exercise to improve mental health. A Norwegian study of nearly 34,000 adults over 11 years showed that even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression with mental health benefits seen regardless of age or gender. Better mental health can lead to a more productive day, which is often seen as having improved energy levels.

My simplified, “non-science” version of this is that exercise generally makes you fitter and helps with a positive mindset, which means your usual routine feels easier as it becomes less tiring.

The best news of all? When it comes to running and exercise, nearly every study shows that it only needs to be moderate or low intensity. So there is no need to head out the door and run as fast as you can! A gentle jog or a slow shuffle is all you need to starting increasing your ENERGY LEVELS.

18 | ANYWHERE, ANYTIME

Running doesn’t have “opening hours”, you can run ANYWHERE, ANYTIME! Only have a quick 20 minutes to spare? No need to set anything up, no need to wait for something to load, just get your shoes on and run! You don’t need to get in the car and drive to a location, just open your front door.

Yes, sometimes it might be a little wet, but wet socks never hurt anyone and sometimes it might be a little hot, but you can always run earlier or later in the day.

Traveling for work? Another great opportunity to run and discover places you have not seen before. Only a short lunch break? Go for a run. On holiday? Sightsee by running along the tracks, trails and beaches. No need to bring any fancy equipment or anything that needs plugging into a socket. Just a pair of shoes and some dri-fit clothing and you’re away.

Enjoy running ANYTIME, ANYWHERE (especially when we’re allowed to go anywhere again!).

19 | PARKRUN

Saturday is the most appropriate day for this post! Millions of runners across the world are missing PARKRUN, the free, weekly, timed 5km event held all across Australia and another 20 countries as well. It began in 2004 in London and has grown to more than 3,000,000 parkrunners who tun out to their local event (run by amazing volunteers) each Saturday, rain, hail or shine. The courses are mostly on running tracks/trails and many of them include beautiful scenery.

The 5km run is entirely at your own pace – you can try to win it, go for a jog or enjoy the walk. You will see hundreds of people take part with families, prams, dogs and wheelchairs, with first-timers all the way up to those who have completed hundreds of parkruns. In fact, as you hit milestones (50, 100 etc), you can buy t-shirts to celebrate how many you have completed.

As it is a timed event, ⏱ it’s a great opportunity to compete in the greatest race of all – the race against yourself! Each week you receive an email after the event with your time, which can help you track all your efforts and work towards a personal best (PB). There are “pacers” at each event, experienced runners who run at a constant pace and finish at a set time (like 25 or 30 minutes) so you can run with them to ensure that PB.

There are nearly 400 parkruns in Australia, 🇦🇺 so there is bound to be one near you. Many runners attempt to “complete the set” and finish all the events in their area. What a great way to see your state!

Given @parkrunau is volunteer led, it really demonstrates how special the running community is. But what really makes PARKRUN special is that it’s for free, for everyone, forever!

20 | SIMPLE

There are many forms of exercise out there, but the most SIMPLE form has to be running (or walking). You don’t need any instructions, you just need to alternate your left and right foot and breathe.

We often overlook the simple things in life thinking that the more complicated option must be the best solution. Buzz words, marketing jargon and false promises have led millions of people astray and the fitness industry is littered with complicated concepts (and machinery!) on how to train the body.

There will always be a new “gadget”, there will always be a new training method. Even worse, there will always be a “best-selling” book that tells you the “secret” of how to get fit in less than 4 minutes per week. You know what they say about something that sounds too good to be true?!

So keep it SIMPLE during isolation and get running. Simple is nearly always best.

21 | SHOES

What to know the best pair of shoes to run in? Here’s the most honest answer you’ll ever get!

The global athletic footwear market is worth tens of billions of dollars and running SHOES are the biggest part of a very big industry. The big brands are all household names with huge marketing budgets and representation by the highest profile athletes.

So how does this help your running? Technology is always improving the quality of materials used, making them lighter, stronger and “faster” by providing more energy return. The biggest brands are always in a “race” to win, whether it be Olympic gold medals or world records. Much like Formula 1 technology trickles down to cars we drive everyday, running shoes follow the same pattern. You might have heard about the Nikes that were going to be “banned” and “changed the shoe industry”. Long story short, those shoes are the result of a constant drive to find the best possible running shoe which is a great result for us, the runners!

But here’s the problem. With all the marketing spin, fancy colours, designs and athlete promotion, which is the best pair of shoes for you?!

The answer is no one should “tell” you. You need to go to a store that sells a wide variety of brands and styles (neutral, supported etc) and not just try them all on, but actually run in them. For nearly 8 years I have sent hundreds of clients to @therunningcompanyadelaide because I know they will get the best shoes for them. You run on a treadmill and then view slow motion footage of how your foot (and body) reacts to each shoe. Then you can run around the block and really test them out. It’s not about picking your favourite colour or brand, it’s simply about selecting the best possible fit and this always leads to injury reduction and better performance.

Old, poorly fitting running shoes are like driving your car on flat and bald tyres. If it’s time for some new SHOES, maybe look for a quality store like the The Running Company. You won’t be disappointed!

22 | RUN FOR A CAUSE

Running is amazing, but helping others is even better. Running, especially combined with events, gives a brilliant opportunity to RUN FOR A CAUSE. Raising money for a charity or a cause benefits everyone, not just those who are on the receiving end. There is the sense of fulfilment when you do good for others but it will also help with your running. In order to raise money, you will need to ask others to donate, which does two important things. The first is it shares your goal with everyone, which is the ultimate accountability. You can’t ask for donations if you don’t plan on finishing! Second, it motivates you to train because you are now running for so many people – the people your donations will support and the people who made the donations! Running for others is extremely powerful and I have seen many people achieve extraordinary things when they are raising money for a cause close to their heart.

If you are looking for extra inspiration for your next event, look at ways you can RUN FOR A CAUSE. Finish lines are even sweeter when you are running for a reason.

23 | TECHNOLOGY

If you’re a tech-head, then you will love some of the ways TECHNOLOGY is improving our running experience.

GPS watches now measure cadence, vertical oscillation, balance, heart rate, ground contact time and plenty of other metrics to help you improve. Smart watches hold all your music and podcasts, allow you to tap and pay (seriously handy when you’re out for a long run and need to buy a drink or a post run coffee). You can even make phone calls, which is great when you need a lift home!

Heart rate monitors were once only available as a chest strap, but now we have optical sensors on our watches or even headphones that can do the job! Speaking of headphones, there have been huge advances here. Bluetooth headphones allow us to go wireless, bone conduction headphones use vibrations to transport sound so we don’t even need to put them in our ears, and “transparency mode” on in-ear headphones allows external noises to “pass-through” to keep us safe around high traffic areas.

Smart insoles are coming in 2020! They measure multiple pressure points from your foot and feed the data to an app to help coach you, but the main aim is to help prevent injury.

Software is also on the rise with machine learning analysing hundreds of data points across millions of users to develop “smart” coaching and performance metrics. Software is also helping to understand VO2 max and our thresholds, which was once purely performed in a laboratory with 8 scientists wearing white coats.

Foot pods are also giving us lots of data on our bodies, but also showing our power outputs and Zwift are even using them to create online communities in the virtual running world via treadmills! Speaking of treadmills, they are even seeing a revolution with “smart” features, while some have adopted the exact opposite approach and are curved so they don’t require power and replicate a more natural running feel to reduce impact and injury.

TECHNOLOGY is helping to make our running safer, more enjoyable and best of all, help us perform better.

24 | MUSIC

With a beautiful mural of a lady playing a harp, this benefit needed to be about MUSIC! 🎶

Running and listening to music go hand in hand. When music first became “portable”, we had to run with a walkman or a discman that skipped with every stride! The mp3 revolution changed how we run with music, with all our songs contained within our phones, watches or headphones. Now 4G networks mean we don’t even need them saved and we can stream any song wirelessly.

Music allows us to set the mood and this is important for running. Sometimes we need a stress release and that might mean soft, slow tunes. While for other runs we might require upbeat or louder songs to blast away the day. If we want to perform at our best and search for a PB, this might mean a special playlist with all our favourite songs. Studies show that louder and faster tempo music results in attempting to run a faster pace, so consider this when building your ultimate race playlist.

Thankfully technology has helped make listening to music with headphones 🎧 whilst running safer, passing through noises so you’re aware of your surroundings. If you are running with MUSIC, enjoy the added boost of some good songs, but stay safe and aware.

25 | PETS 🐶

Guess who else likes going for a run? Your PETS! Ok, so it’s most likely to be your dog, but our neighbour used to walk their cat around the block, so you never know!

Dogs can be a brilliant running partner because they are always so happy when you reach for the lead. Most dogs also have the ability to remind us when it’s time to head around the block and it’s hard to say no – which helps us get out when we’re not motivated.

Just like you need to gradually build up your pace and distance to avoid injury, the same goes for your dog. Start slow and small and gradually build to avoid injuring them, as they might just follow you for too long out of love or obedience and end up hurting themselves. Also be aware of hot surfaces or abrasive paths on their little paws! Lastly, dogs pant their heat away, so avoid letting a dog run with a ball or stick in their mouth as this can be dangerous for them.

Think about sharing your next run with your “best friend” and taking your beloved PET out with you.

26 | SLEEP

Like to SLEEP better? Try running!

A three week study where participants ran every weekday morning for 30 minutes, resulted in both a better quality of sleep and the ability to fall asleep faster. Participants also reported better concentration during the day, better mood and less periods of feeling sleepy. The best news of all is in many running related studies, running is performed at a low to moderate intensity, also known as the “aerobic” phase. That means you only need to run at an easy, relaxed pace to reap the benefits.

The beautiful symmetry of this is that better sleep improves your running! Sleep is when our body repairs and regenerates. So, if you manage consistent, high quality sleep, your body will be better prepared to run well.

Running and SLEEP. It’s a match made in heaven!

27 | FRIENDSHIP

Running with a partner makes a tough run easier. Doing enough tough sessions together often turns a running partnership into FRIENDSHIP.

The best part of running with a friend (or a training partner) is that you are more accountable. Early starts, poor weather or just not in the mood? It doesn’t matter when you have someone waiting to run with you, you can’t let them down!

Over the years I have been lucky enough to witness many runners become friends, sharing highs, lows and lots of events together.

Most of our social activities revolve around food and drink, whereas a great running FRIENDSHIP is a healthy way to catch up with mates.

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