You don't have to Run

How many of us have seen our Strava friend's list increase two-fold since the start of lockdown? Of course this is amazing, more people are choosing to get outside and use the great outdoors for exercise instead of only relying on the gym. 

However, how many of you have felt forced by peer pressure/pressure online to get out and take part in long runs? Whether that be a 5k, 10k or even longer, there is an ongoing hype surrounding endurance running that although has many positive effects, has also lead to some feelings of guilt and shame for people who just don't like running. 

Okay, so i'm a little worried that a LOT of people are not going to like this so I just want to start by saying that all forms of running are excellent. I have absolutely nothing against endurance running of any form, in-fact, I envy people that feel 'euphoria' when they've been running for a certain amount of time. But, I hate long distance running. I class anything from 5k up as long distance running. I get bored, I have never had that feeling of 'euphoria' and quite frankly there are many other forms of cardiovascular exercise I'd rather be doing then monotonously running down a canal. 

I'm happy to say that i'm not the only one either. I know plenty of people that don't like running, and like me, give it a go every once in a while in the hope that things might have changed, but they haven't. Now, obviously this is just my personal opinion. However, sometimes have you noticed the social pressure online that endurance running is something that everyone SHOULD be doing? Whether you want to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health or just generally improve your fitness. So many of us has thrown ourselves in the deep end, running more than ever until it exhausts us, we become over fatigued and often injured. 

Well, let me tell you for all of the people out there that don't enjoy endurance running, it's not the end of the world. Despite the pressure to take up longer distance running there are plenty of other options to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of course, running 5/10k is a great way to improve your health in many ways, but it's not the only way...

Other types of running 

I don't hate all types of running, I just don't like running far. In-fact I really enjoy sprinting and track sessions, which leads me onto my first point. You don't just have to run far, there are other options too: 

Interval Training: This consists of a short period of time running at a fast pace/sprinting, followed by a period at a much slower pace. This is a great way to fit in an intense session in a short amount of time and trust me, if you go hard enough, you'll feel just as tired as doing a long run. 

Sprints: Many of us often bypass sprinting as we believe it's something only done by athletic champions, but why? Anyone can do it. You don't have to be an amazing sprinter to give it a go and you will only improve with practise. There are several athletics teams across the UK that allow people from all ages to take part in their training. Sprint sessions can be extremely gruelling, especially in the winter. 

Hill Sprints: I will have to admit, this is one of my least favourite forms of running. It burns. But, it's another great way to build muscle in your lower body and improve your cardiovascular health without having to run very far. 

Other types of cardio 

There will be some of you out there that hate all forms of running, which I completely understand. Or, you have sustained an injury that means that running isn't accessible for you. So, here are some other forms of cardio that you can consider in your training as a means to get fitter, improve your heart health and reduce the chances of many diseases...

Walking/Hiking: Honestly walking is so underrated and the majority of us can do it. Get out there and get your 10,000 steps a day. Not only is walking a simple form of cardiovascular exercise, it is also a nice way to bring calm to the mind. As you're not going through an intense workout, you have the time to pause and be lost in your own thoughts. 

Cycling: A favourite of mine, cycling is an excellent way to get your legs working and your heart rate up. Of course you can go for a lovely casual bike ride, but why not take it a step further, plan a longer route or try pedalling a little faster next time. 

Team sports: As adults, we often think of team sports being something you do as a child, but there are so many adult sports teams out therefor you to try. Whether you love football, or you want to get involved in roller derby, I can guarantee there are other people out there that enjoy it as much as you do. And, if there isn't a team in your local area yet, why not make one? 

Hopefully I haven't offended too many people with this post. I just wanted to broaden your horizon when it comes to thinking about running. Please ignore any social pressure to run far, just run to where feels comfortable for you, or don't run at all if you don't want to. There are plenty of other options available that mean you don't need to add marathon running to your list.