It might seem like a strange time of the year to start running, but we outline why it is a great sport to take up.
OK, so we're entering into winter and you can just about make it to work without freezing to death. It isn't exactly the most typical backdrop to taking up a sport that primarily involves outside activity. But with the winter heating bill and the Christmas presents squeezing the budget, running could be the perfect sport for you (besides, you'll warm up eventually).
Here are a few reasons why you should start running:
This is perhaps the most well-known of all the benefits running can provide. Morphine mimics the effect of endorphins in that it provides a sense of calm, comfort and well-being. Running produces natural endorphins - something you will know all about after you've completed a few kilometres' run. The sensation known as 'runner's high' can be brilliantly addictive. You'll feel tired, refreshed, revitalised - and, though it might sound strange, energised. Go for a run before work and you'll have your colleagues wondering why you're so chirpy first thing in the morning.
It's a great way to give yourself some headspace
In this day and age it can be really hard to get time to think or contemplate how life is progressing. Once you reach a certain level of fitness you will find yourself able to drift off into daydream mode and let your worries float away. Go out for a run with the stresses of work weighing you down and a squabble with your housemate ringing in your ears and you'll more often than not return home with fresh perspective, the time to think and your exhaustion neutralising your tension.
You will sleep a helluva lot better
Yes, after a day's work you are normally tired enough to fall asleep on the bus, never mind later on. But the blissful slumber that descends with your body refreshed and tired after a run or a session is on another level.
All you need to run is a pair of decent running shoes, some training kit and maybe the membership fee if you want to join a club (which is usually nothing compared to other sports clubs). Nuff said.
It's easy to fit into a busy schedule
There is no opening or closing time for the great outdoors. OK, there is for parks and sports facilities. But you can run for twenty minutes before work, half an hour at lunchtime, an hour after work, all three or a combination. Running is a sport made for the busy lifestyle.
Runners are seriously good craic
If someone's really into running, they have spent a good bit of time running by themselves and thinking about life. They have been the person getting up in the morning on a family holiday in Portugal to go for a jog down the beach or past the bewildered locals in the nearest village. They are, more often than not, humble to a fault. A sport as hard as running often breeds humility. All of this makes runners highly interesting individuals to chat to.
The social scene arond a club or group is absolutely brilliant
Join a running group or an athletics club if you are thinking of taking it seriously. There are absolutely loads of them around the country and you don't have to be Ciara Mageean to take part. They cater for all ages and abilities and are often led by some experienced sage of running who can give you expert advice on any aspect of the sport. Often people within these clubs or groups are targeting the same race or distance so can bounce ideas off each other and have healthy competition in terms of times or share lifts to events. Throw the odd pint or two in there and you've got a really healthy, positive social outlet for yourself.
There are loads of events of every imaginable type
Fancy mountain running? Trail running? Maybe you want to mix it up with some orienteering or cross country? Or maybe it's just the humble road run you're after. Whatever you like, Ireland has it. Across the country the explosion of running means that right throughout the year there are loads of events for you to aim for.
Being a runner is really handy on a practical level
Your bike is bust and you don't have a car or, if you do, you don't want to spend more money on petrol. Or you're going to be late for college if you wait for the next bus in half an hour and you left your bike at your mate's house after the party last night. Run! Only if you live within a reasonable distance, of course. Balls.ie has been saved numerous times by his Asics after going down to find his bike tyre flat or his Leap Card empty.
You can eat whatever the hell you want (well, nearly)
Run a few times a week and then try to put on weight. It's actually quite hard, unless the guys in San Marino know you by name at this stage. Needess to say this will be of great benefit over the festive period.
It's just...really good for you!
On a really basic level, running - like all exercise - gets the heart pumping blood around the body, lowers cholesterol, strengthens muscles and has a host of other benefits common to all forms of exercise. But it will also help you improve your health in other aspects. If you feel good after running you're far less likely to want to eat a burger or go for a smoke and this feeling carries on into the following day.
Of course this should all come with the caveat that you should start slowly. As we have said before, listening to the body is very important - especially in a sport like running where your joints have to deal with high impact against the ground and your muscles are stretched. Don't go too hard, too early - Balls.ie ended up with shin splints as a result of doing this and wouldn't advise it.
Apart from that, get running!