I recovered from asthma four years ago. It only shows up in extreme winters when you get cold easily.
Back when I had breathing ailments, running was strictly forbidden. Not even running, any physically strenuous activity was prohibited. Even if I had to do it for an emergency, I took my inhaler with me.
Sometimes you need to test your limits
Two years ago, I started working out regularly. If it were up to my father, he wouldn’t let me even start interval training because he thinks my breathing issue would hold me down. Or maybe he is worried about me getting hurt.
Typical parental insecurities. I can’t help it. I did workout anyway, and I am happy with the results. It was a major lifestyle change.
Running was something I was still aiming to pick up. But for the last two years, I always had alternate options for cardio exercises—dance fitness, boxing, HIIT, etc.
Creating favorable circumstances
Eight months ago, I moved from a compact PG to a gated society with a common gym. There I got my first chance to add running to my routine. Still, it was limited to treadmill and exercise bike only.
After I hurt myself on the treadmill while pacing at 14 km/h, I stuck with an exercise bike for two months. Now I think how boring it was. Sitting and paddling, that’s it.
Although I did burn enough calories and dripping sweat at the end of every session on the exercise bike, the feeling of running is no way closer to it.
How quickly I fell in love with running
I came to home town for the whole of March, and if I can’t go out for running ( because I am scared of the street dogs, yikes! ), I have two options for cardio:
- in place exercise like jumping jacks, mountain climber, high knees, star jumps, etc.
- Morning walk at 5 AM with dad.
Cut the crap. Walking is not the intense cardio I need. I had to find a way to run and beware of the stray dogs at the same time. Two days ago, I took the chance, and the mileage was disastrous. Pardon my depressed tone, but I thought I would head 5 km with enough breaks.
I bombed on the first day! I could run only 760 m, 1.44 km on day two. Both were after one hour of strength training.
I don’t know the ideal distance, but I run on a half kilometre straight road. I plan to increase my track by 0.5km every day until the day comes when I am lying on the road with an urge to call 911. Or closer to it, practically.
Felt the runner’s high for the first time
Now I understand why the term “runners high” is called so. I only did only 700 m on day one, and I felt like I need to beat this score.
How could I finish this distance so quickly! I couldn't believe I did this. I started after four years, even 500 m without breaks would be enough for me.
Next workout day ( today ), I made it 1.44 km. I haven’t come with a daily target yet, but 5 km is my ideal.
Runner’s high depends on the environment you’re running in. I was running on a concrete road with shoe soles that are not thick enough to do intense running.
I will eventually purchase running shoes after I finish one month like this, but these two days have sparked so much love for running that I haven’t had for any exercise, except dance fitness ( DF ).
DF is a low-intense version of Zumba. In Zumba, the average calories burnt are 1000–1200 kcal per hour. In DF, it is 600–800 kcal.
Both exercises ( DF and running ) are cardio. This is why I fell in love so quickly. Cardio exercises increase the heart rate, which means the heart has to work harder to distribute blood to all body parts.
The soothing and happiness feeling is when you finish the exercise and feel how reduced your anxiety levels are. It is just like yoga with more panting and sweating. Enough with the kidding! It is nothing like yoga. Yoga is calm music. Running is metal, rock, EDM, pop, etc.
I workout on alternate days at home due to the scarcity of equipment and free space availability. So the day after tomorrow, when I go for a run, I am finishing 2 km. Thanks to my trainer for pushing me hard enough that I finally went through with it.
Sanjeev is a mentor at Udacity who writes about mental health, productivity, fitness lifestyle, and mindfulness in his off-work time. When he is not clearing students’ doubts or grading projects, he is burning fuel either in a workout or playing badminton.