Oh the Great Benefits to Running

There are numerous benefits to running. My non-runner friends simply don’t understand my addiction to it. They see it as mindless repetitive exercise. But those who do run know that the rewards far outweigh the demands. This article details the physical, mental, and even social benefits of running. Most runners run for weight management, whether it be to lose weight or maintain current weight.

Running burns more calories than any other form of cardiovascular exercise, except for cross country skiing. Consider the fact that losing one pound of body weight requires that you burn 3500 calories. Running burns an average of 100 calories per mile. If you run five miles per day, seven days per week, you can lose one pound in one week. This is quite an astounding rate of weight loss. Additionally, running requires the heavy consumption of oxygen, which facilitates fat burning and increases the percentage of lean muscle.Of all the benefits to running, better cardiovascular health is probably the most rewarding.

Running forces the heart to pump more to deliver oxygenated blood to the muscles. This workload effectively strengthens the heart, and consistent long term conditioning can lead to decreased risk of heart attack and heart failure. Running causes the arteries to expand and contract up to three times as much as when sedentary, which maintains their elasticity and subsequently leads to lower blood pressure. With hypertension being one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke, running does much to lower risk.

The lungs experience an increase in capacity and strength as well, which leads to increased oxygenation of the blood for the heart to deliver. This higher efficiency decreases the amount of workload stress needed for adequate delivery, which leads to better long term health of the cardiovascular system. Running goes a long way in promoting better general health. For example, running helps prevent a number of diseases, from the common cold to cancer, by boosting the immune system.

While running, the body metabolizes carbohydrates and stored glycogen, which may help prevent diabetes or improve the health of people with diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels. The increased workload of running stimulates the bones to become denser, making them less susceptible to osteoporosis as the runner ages. Running keeps the body youthful by increasing overall agility, strength, and coordination.Aside from the numerous physical benefits to running, there are also numerous psychological benefits. Many runners that I talk to report an improvement in mood, or even an intense euphoria after a run. Running relieves stress, and increases energy and concentration levels for more enjoyable daily living. There are many explanations for this effect.

At the biological level, running causes the brain to release beta endorphins. Their essential purpose is to relieve pain, but they also have the tendency to make a person feel extremely lofty and happy (much like morphine would). Another explanation is that running allows the runner to focus on the task at hand, and breaks the residual effect of daily stressors such as work and family responsibilities. Likewise, have you ever noticed at times that the most brilliant ideas come to you while running? Running seems to improve mental processes so that the runner can better problem-solve issues that are bothering him or her. Lastly, running improves self-image not only from a physical standpoint, but with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and confidence that comes with overcoming the challenge of running.

Although by nature running is a highly individual sport, it helps promote a better community. A communal running event brings together people from all skill levels and walks of life under a friendly welcoming atmosphere. There’s a strong sense of camaraderie, the kind that people feel when they are all working towards a common goal. People are very encouraging, and you can usually spot a couple groups of runners pushing each other along. Most times, there’s an after run celebration with music, food, and drinks, so you can have some time to get to know some of the runners a little more. I’ve met many friends this way. You can also make friends by joining a running club, visiting your local running store, and even signing up with an online running forum. Running benefits society at large. The organizations that put together running events usually donate a portion of revenues to charities benefiting all sorts of causes. It sure feels great knowing that you can make a difference in someone else’s life.

How to Fit Running Shoes

How to fit running shoes is the most basic and essential pieces of knowledge that a runner should have. You can get the most top of the line shoe out there in the market with all the bells and whistles, but if you don’t have the proper fit, it can destroy your feet and the rest of your body. This article will cover the basics of choosing the right length, width, and shape of running shoes to best fit your feet.First and foremost, however, you ,need to figure out what type of shoe is best for your type of foot. We all have different needs for cushion and stability.

After you figure out what type of shoe is best for your foot, you need to figure out what length is most appropriate for your foot. For running, you need to get a shoe that gives you at least a full thumbnail’s width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Experienced runners do this because they know the foot stretches forward as it hits the ground, and it does it more and more as the runs get longer and longer. Not having enough length to accommodate for this can lead to a number of foot injuries such as black toe nails, hammer toes, or even dislocated toe joints. Running shoes are generally made shorter than dress shoes by about a 1/2 size.

Sometimes they can be shorter by a full size or even a full size and a half. Don’t be surprised if you wear a 9 dress shoe and have to buy a 9.5 or 10 running shoe. Some people, in most cases women, get offended at the thought of me “implying” that they have big feet. Understand that in the world of running, the shoe size number shown on the outside of the box really doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the right fit on your foot. More importantly, this is not a fashion statement. It’s a high impact sport from which if you don’t equip yourself properly you run the risk of getting injured.Wow! We’ve covered a lot of information regarding length alone.

Now let’s talk about getting the right width, which is equally important in how to fit running shoes. Running shoes will be available in widths 4A, 2A, B, D, 2E, 4E, and 6E. For men, a regular width is D. For women, it’s B. Every jump in a width forward (i.e. from D to 2E) will result in a shoe that is a 1/2 inch wider than prior. Every jump in a width backwards (i.e. D to B) will result in a shoe that is a 1/2 inch narrower than prior. Simply put, you should get a shoe that will match the width of the widest part of your foot, if not slightly wider. This part is usually the base of the toes. If you go into a store you can easily ask the reps to get you different widths and compare from there. If you plan to shop online, then you’ll have to measure the base of your toes to get a good approximation on what width to get. You’ll want to do this while standing. If you’re a male, 3.5 inches is average, so buy width D if you measure around there. If you’re a female, 3 inches is average, so buy width B if you measure around there.

Adjust the width for every 1/2 inch variance in your measurement. For example, I’m a male and measure 4.5 inches across the base of my toes. I will get width 4E. Likewise, I’m a female and measure 2.5 inches across the base of my toes. I will get width 2A. Keep in mind that even in the same length and width specs, different brands will either be narrower or wider than others. New Balance, Saucony, and Reebok tend to be wider than most brands. ADIDAS, Mizuno, and Spira tend to be narrower than most brands. Every other brand will fit pretty average.The shape of a shoe can affect the way a shoe fits on your foot as well. If you flip the shoe over and take a look at how the bottom is shaped, you will notice that running shoes will either be curved or straight between the inside part of the big toe and inside part of the heel.

The amount of curvature varies from brand to brand and model to model, but in general, the curved shoes are best for slight over pronators (foot rolls in, usually a medium or average arch) and supinators (foot rolls out, usually a high arch). Straight shoes are generally best for severe over pronators (foot rolls in excessively, usually a flat foot or low arch). By no means will the shape of a shoe tell you if it will give you the correct amount of stability for your particular foot type. It’s just a way to tell whether or not the shoe will provide a comfortable fit for your foot shape. For example, if you have a particularly high arch and supinate, a straight shoe will rub against your pinky toe. Likewise, if you have a flat foot and severely over pronate a shoe that is not straight enough will rub against the inside of your ankle and midfoot.

 

The ASICS Running Shoe Line

The ASICS running shoe brand is the biggest and most popular in the world of running. During my time working in the running industry, I’ve gotten more requests for ASICS than any other brand. At races and expos, the crowd’s feet are adorned with the ever so famous stripes that make up the ASICS shoe design.Although ASICS has made its foray into many other sports since its start in 1949, its
specialty is running, and they make their running shoes very well.

What I like most about ASICS running shoes is that they’re extremely lightweight. Compared to other brands in each respective shoe category, ASICS is usually the lightest. This allows the runner to run at higher speeds and with more agility than normal.I also like how they fit narrow in the heel and midfoot, and slightly wider in the forefoot.

This makes for a nice natural feel in the fit that doesn’t slip or slide.They feature a cushioning that’s not too firm and not too soft, which provides a good balance between comfort and performance. ASICS makes lots of different models. But to make it easier for you to make a decision on what to get, I’ve listed only my favorites for each shoe category.Whenever possible, I add the following notations where appropriate to help you get your ideal fit.Standard – for people weighing under 150 pounds.Advanced – for people weighing over 150 pounds.Performance – for speed workouts and racing. The more you weigh the shorter the distance you should be running in these types of shoes.Trail – for off road running (i.e. through dirt, loose gravel, mud, water, etc.).

 Stability

Gel Kayano series – Advanced
GT series – Standard
DS Trainer series – Performance
Gel Trail Sensor series – Advanced / Trail
GT Trail series – Standard / Trail

 Neutral

Gel Nimbus series – Advanced
Gel Cumulus series – Standard
Gel Speedstar series – Performance
Gel Trail Attack series – Standard / Trail

 Motion Control

Gel Evolution series – Advanced
Gel Foundation series – Standard