Today the nation celebrates National Running Day. Wait, you've never heard of it?
Well, the holiday is still rather young with today marking only the third event of its kind ever. Nevertheless, it is quickly gaining popularity within the running community, according to New York Road Runners President and CEO Mary Wittenberg, whose group organizes the day.
“Last year there were over 100 National Running Day group runs and events from coast to coast and this year we’re excited to see even more because every runner and each step counts,” stated Wittenberg in a press release.
National Runners Day, which is sponsored by the New York Road Runners, serves as a day in which each of the nearly 43 million runners in the United States come together to celebrate the sport that they love.
“Unlike other sports, running requires little to no equipment and can take place almost anywhere. It is an ideal activity for people who want to stay fit or get in shape, relieve stress, and most of all, have fun,” Wittenberg added.
Running has been shown to be a proven asset in the fight against obesity. The most recent data provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) from 2009 shows that a whopping 23.3% of New Jersey residents are obese. In order to be considered obese, a person's body mass index or BMI must be greater than or equal to 30.
To put that number into perspective, on average nearly one out of every four people in your office is considered obese. Unfortunately, the trend is not just limited to New Jersey, as the number of obese Americans has skyrocketed over the past two decades according to the CDC.
Obesity has been linked to certain types of cancer, heart problems and stroke among other things. In addition, obesity is a major financial drain on our nation's already struggling health care system. Estimates indicate that obesity costs taxpayers nearly $150 billion every year.
Studies by the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry show that running not only helps trim your waistline and keeps your heart healthy, but can also help you cope with stress and anxiety.
Interested in getting started, but don't know where to begin? Fear not, the New York Road Runners organization offers ten tips to help get you started off on the right foot:
1. Focus on your feet – Running costs less than many other sports, but you do need a decent pair of sneakers. Use this handy Runner’s World store finder to locate your nearest specialty running store, where experts can help you start off on the right (and left) foot.
2. Start small – Think realistically every time you head out the door – no one expects you to run like a pro from the get-go. Start out by alternating between short bursts of running and walking, and build from there.
3. Find a running buddy – In the first few weeks, it’s important to make running a habit – so turn to your friends for help! You can even run with your dog!
4. Diversify your portfolio – Running isn’t the only way to become a better runner. Ride your bike, do yoga, or play basketball to improve your runs.
5. Listen to your body – Keep an eye on old injuries and common problem areas like shins and knees to avoid new flare-ups. Consider getting a check-up before you start running.
6. Join the club – Many runners love the camaraderie and extra motivation that comes with running with others. You can find numerous running teams at the Road Runners Club of America and Meetup.com. Check out this New York Times article for even more resources.
7. Make a plan – Choose a personal goal, such as running a mile without stopping or finishing a local road race. Check out the flexible Couch-to-5K running program or New York Road Runners’10K training plan.
8. Take notes – Keep track of your progress in a notebook or journal. Write down where you were, how long you ran, and note how your body felt during and after your run. You’ll be surprised how often you refer back to it.
9. Celebrate milestones – Mum’s not the word when you meet your running goals. Don’t be shy about letting friends and family know when you’ve completed two miles for the first time or finished a loop in the park.
For more information on the New York Road Runners, visit their webiste: www.nyrr.org.