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Running can be a daunting sport to get into, but it offers numerous physical and mental benefits. Physiotherapist and running coach Manni Ovola emphasizes the mental wellbeing benefits of running, noting that it can help boost happy hormones, improve focus, and provide a sense of accomplishment. Running can also help with self-confidence, anxiety, depression, and overall mental health. Ovola describes achieving a mental and physical “unlock” while running, which can lead to the famed “runner’s high.”

Ovola emphasizes the importance of frequency over volume when it comes to running. Instead of focusing on running a set distance like a 5K, he recommends starting with shorter time periods and gradually increasing the duration. Varying the length and intensity of runs is key to building strength and endurance. Additionally, preparing for a run involves more than just physical movement; factors such as nutrition, sleep, and social connections can also impact the success of a run.

Dynamic stretching is recommended before running to warm up muscles without reducing force and strength production. Ovola suggests incorporating dynamic movements such as leg swings, inchworms, and lateral lunges into pre-run routines. Joining a running club can provide motivation and support while also facilitating energy transfer among members. Strength training is essential to build muscle and improve running capacity. Exercises such as calf raises, hip bridges, lunges, and unilateral movements help strengthen muscles important for running.

Listening to your body and pacing yourself are essential when starting a running routine. Ovola suggests focusing on “easy” runs and monitoring effort levels based on perceived exertion. Slower pace runs can help build cardiovascular efficiency while reducing stress on joints, muscles, and ligaments. Choosing the right footwear is crucial for preventing injuries, as different types of shoes can impact specific areas of the body. Adjusting cushioning and shoe profile based on past injuries or discomfort can help optimize running performance and prevent pain.

In conclusion, running offers both physical and mental benefits for individuals of all fitness levels. By following expert tips such as prioritizing frequency over volume, incorporating dynamic stretching, joining a running club for support, and incorporating strength training into routines, runners can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. Listening to your body and selecting appropriate footwear are also important factors to consider for a successful and enjoyable running experience. Ultimately, running is a versatile and accessible sport that can lead to improved overall health and wellbeing.

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