Running played a huge role in the evolution of mankind. Researchers aren’t consistent on what caused the change in our ancestors’ attitude toward long runs. What they are quite sure of, however, is that running gave us our anatomy as we know it today. Going back to the long running question, research done by University of Utah biologist David Carrier suggests that “endurance running evolved in human ancestors so they could pursue predators long before the development of bows, arrows, nets and spear-throwers reduced the need to run long distances.” This is our heritage and the reason why running feels so natural to us and is capable of making (some of) us happy.
Christopher McDougall, a world famous writer and author of international bestseller Born to Run suggests the same natural character of running in his book, and lecture for TED. He talks about the history of running, and expresses his opinion on the phenomenon called barefoot running. Another very interesting publication about the history of running is the book by Thor Gotaas called Running: A Global History. Gotaas writes about recreational running as we know it today and about its fascinating history. Did you, for example, know that naked running was the vogue in 18th-century England, with men and women racing separately and thousands of spectators lining the race course? Or that in ancient Egypt, Ramses II legitimized his hold on the throne by performing a long-distance run every few years, a ritual he performed until he was over 90?
It’s good not to push it for the first time. Most runners recommend starting off with ten minutes of jogging/running when you go for a run for the first time. Monitor how you feel the next day; it’s perfectly normal to have a bit of a muscle ache. However, if you’re experiencing intense pain, you’ve started too intensively.
Don’t run too fast in the beginning, and try to keep up your breath and tempo all the way through. Don’t forget to stretch before you run and after you finish running! Here is a video that might help you with this.
Slowly increase the distance of your runs. It’s good to run for about thirty minutes each day of the week once you get used to running.
What’s Happening to Me When I Run, and How Should I Run?
A lot of people are under the impression that running is solely concentrated on legs, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Apart from using your thighs calves, and hips, you use your back muscles and torso very intensively as well to balance and stabilize your running pattern. When running, do whatever is natural. Believe or not, everybody has it inside him! Here are some suggestions for how to improve your running:
- Keep your torso and shoulders relaxed.
- Keep you torso upright and hips slightly forward.
- Keep your hands relaxed; they should almost flop at the wrist. Don’t clench your fists.
- Breathe in and out through your nose and mouth. If you feel you’re running out of breath, slow down and breathe more deeply.
How do You Benefit from Running?
- decrease your risk of heart disease
- decrease your risk of Type 2 diabetes
- control blood pressure
- strengthen your bones
- strengthen your muscles
- increase your stamina
- decrease symptoms of depression since your body is releasing a “happy” hormone called endorphin
- reduce the risk of dementia
However healthy running is, it does cause a lot of injuries. These are caused primarily by excessive running, falls, running on unsuitable surfaces, or wearing the wrong footwear. Here are some basic rules to follow to avoid the risk of injury:
- Be very cautious when running. If you fall down, don’t push yourself, and rest properly before you go running again.
- To reduce ground impact on your knees and joints, choose softer surfaces like cinder track, boardwalk, or, most popular of all, grass.
- And finally, the most important rule of all: don’t run if it hurts!
Here is a very interesting talk by Michael Fredericson, professor of medicine at Stanford University, who discusses “what can be done when you want to keep running, but injuries are holding you back." His "program explores the latest innovations in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of running injuries.”
It’s important that you choose a pair of shoes that will best suit your foot type and the conditions and surfaces you’ll be running in. There are three foot types:
You pronate when you have flat feet. Pronation can lead to stress fractures and ankle sprains. There is a high chance that you pronate if the inner edge of your shoe is worn down. in this case, shoes with firm mid-soles are your choice.
You supinate if you have stiff, high arches that don’t flatten. Your feet absorb less shock on strike, which can lead to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and ankle sprains. If the outer edge of your shoe is worn down, you probably suffer supination. You should look for shoes with lots of cushion to help absorb the shock.
This means that your foot doesn’t deviate one way or the other very much. Your shoe will be worn down in the middle of the back of the heel.
Recommendation to all running shoe buyers: Purchase a full-length insole instead of the paper-thin insole that you get with most running shoes.
If you’d like to see some more information on running shoes, you should check this site.
Here are a some tips for shops that specialize in runners’ footwear:
- The Run Inn (map)
- Running Room Canada (map)
- Lady Sport (map)
- North Shore Athletics (map)
- Gravity Pope Shoes (map)
- The Right Shoe Company (map)
- John Fluevog Shoes (map)
You can find many more footwear options on this site.
Best Places for Running in Vancouver
The Beach Run
You can start at the University of British Columbia and run down Northwest Marine Drive hill in the direction of the beach called Spanish Banks. This running trail and beach extends all the way to Granville Island and the Sea Wall. It’s up to you when to turn around and return the same way to the university. It’s ideal for runners who like softer ground and nice view when running.
Try to find the Seawall Promenade, Lost Lagoon, and Beaver Lake, and there is also a twelve-mile-long straightaway good for marathon trainers called the John Molson Way along the BC Parkway.
From the Dundarave Pier to the railway bridge over the Capilano River is 3700 metres. The only miles marked are Mile 0 and the first mile. Otherwise, every 100 meters is marked, so it’s easy to check the length of your run.
North East Vancouver
This trail in North East Vancouver was suggested by the runner John Barrington Craggs. “North East Vancouver offers some pleasant mixed routes of various distances. Water and mountain views feature through-out. Eastside answer to Stanley park!Hastings Park. Link up the 1/3 mile loop around the Sanctuary with track at Empire Sports field for a short jog. This can easily be extended by running north through the parking lot past the east side of the hourse racetrack (there is a trail beside the barns) and through the underpass along Rupert street; a trail leads down to the left into New Brighton park. The outside loop here is approximately 2/3rd of a mile. Right after the underpass heading East follow Bridgeway and bear left onto the Trans Canada Trail and under the Second Narrows Bridge. A nice lop from here is around Capitol Hill and back along Hastings Street. Enjoy!“ You can find it on this site, along with other very interesting running trails.
Here are some more interesting websites that might help you find ideal trails in Vancouver and help you improve and enjoy your running experience: