When you hear the words endurance running, your brain might automatically turn into thinking long, hard and boring. RunBuddy has teamed up with RunFestRun to change the narrative and tell you some of the mental and physical benefits of putting a few extra km’s into your weekly routine. We promise you that we are telling the truth, all you need to do is try.
Increase your heart health
Endurance running not only works out the normal ‘skeletal’ muscles you would think, but it also works the muscles that line your heart, arteries and veins which in turn, improves your blood flow. This will be a contributing factor for improving your VO2 max due to the fact that oxygen can get delivered to your muscles (stored as myoglobin) more efficiently meaning you can run fast for longer! According to The England Journal of Medicine, runners have a 30% less chance of developing cardiovascular issues. Who would have thought that you could get all of these benefits from a few runs a week.
Yes, this is a real thing and don’t knock it until you try it. When you exercise, your body releases adrenaline to increase your heart rate to keep you running without fatigue. This in turn releases endorphins called serotonin = ‘The Happy Hormone’. This is why you might never feel like lacing up those trainers but as soon as you get back from a run, you feel fantastic and want to do it again.
If you have ever been for a run, you are a ‘runner’. This means if you keep it up, you will eventually build up your muscular endurance. On the whole, runners have a higher muscle to fat ratio due to the increased metabolism generated by running. When you are completing the slower, longer miles the muscles in your hips, legs and core will be improved. This will additionally improve your posture. This is not to say that you shouldn’t supplement your running with strength training as this will also help reduce your risk of injury.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
It is clear that over the past 5 years, more sleep has become trendy and there is a better understanding of why this is so important within the general population. Endurance running will aid this for several reasons. Due to the longer runs, you are outside for a larger amount of time, therefore increasing your exposure to light and the E word, Endorphins! These gems will allow you to reduce the amount of stress you feel and therefore, sleep better due to the improved mind. Then we can’t forget the simple fact that by heading out and pounding the pavement we’ll be tiring ourselves out to help us fall asleep faster and deeper. Everyone is different but maybe try and run in the mornings if you are finding it difficult to sleep to turn that autonomous nervous system off before bed. You will very quickly realise that after your sleep improves, your performance will due to the increased recovery.
We all know that as you get older, your immune system weakens and we can’t get away with eating dirt from the playground like we did when we were two. But endurance running does in fact help slow this down! When you run, your blood gets pumped around your body faster, meaning there is a boost of white blood cells and antibodies. These are the two things needed to fight off infection. This alongside the temperature rise in your body leading to the prevention of bacteria building up leaves exercise is the next best option to build your immunity. It is also beneficial to note that if you are tired, you don’t want to over-exercise leading to burnout.
Improves Self Esteem
Ok, so this may seem like a generic statement that is thrown around a lot but we are going to break it down for you. Self Esteem is normally linked to how you feel about yourself in a physical setting. We can guarantee that whatever your goal might be, whether it is weight loss, building muscle & strength or reducing stress, endurance running will improve these goals and in fact, speed them up. Due to the large energy expenditure linked to running, you will find yourself toning up without even thinking about it. If this isn’t your goal, ensure you are fueling your body and making up for that excess energy expenditure. You will feel more confident about yourself as you will be getting fitter and therefore improve weekly on your runs. Running is a nice sport in the way that if you are willing to put the work in, you are very quickly rewarded with feeling fitter, faster, stronger and this, in turn, will improve your self-esteem.
Endurance running means slower running. Here at the RunBuddy, we would never recommend that you set off at a million miles an hour and try and sustain it, this will not be beneficial for your mind or your body. Running slower is an excellent opportunity to bring a friend along and have a catch-up, whether they join you for 4km or the whole distance, it will make the run significantly easier and make it feel quicker if you keep your mind stimulated with conversation. If you have a RunBuddy plan, you will see that Coach Ben often uses the term ‘conversational pace’ on the long runs and this is what he means. You want to be running at a pace that you are comfortable holding a conversation with and what better way to do this than to bring a friend along. This will make the whole experience far more enjoyable.