Yes, that's an old picture that I've used in the blog before. In all honesty, it's bad enough to have these pictures where I'm sweaty and gross. I'm not gonna go outside and snap new ones anytime soon. But let's talk about running! (You can read my first post on running here.)
When to run - Out of all my paragraphs, this is definitely the most subjective one. This is not hard rules, I've made this up based on my own experiences and internet forums. I've found that running in the morning works the best for me but not if I've been up too long. Ideally, I wake up around 9am and eat a banana (which I've conveniently placed on my bedside table. I'm not against eating in bed. How messy.) Over the next half hour I put on my running clothes, wash my face and sip on a glass of water. Then I run. I don't ever eat more in the morning because if I run shortly after eating a bigger meal I feel nauseous. If I'm running in the evening I make sure to wait until at least two hours after I finish my dinner. You know when else to run? In light rain. It seems like such a chore when you're standing at your door and looking out at the miserable weather. Trust me - running in rain is almost comfortable. It's almost like something you'd like to do again. Sunny weather is the worst for running.
How to run - This seems like something that is far too often forgotten about, but it's actually quite important. I know that during a run you may be exhausted and life may feel miserable and you really just want to stare at the ground. This is bad practice. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on something in front of you. Don't slouch. I've read this at so many websites and although I appreciate minimizing damage etc, running also becomes a lot easier if you keep your body upright. When I run my goal is to run the full interval (which is currently at eight minutes per interval) rather than running as fast as I can in a short amount of time. It's okay if you feel like your legs aren't lifting far off the ground - they're apparently not supposed to if you're running for longer periods of time (... which is what I consider eight minutes to be. Hrm.)
Stretching - I've heard of people who stretch before running but I've also heard that it's really bad when the muscles are stiff and "cold". So I don't and instead I walk quickly for five minutes before I start my run. However, stretching afterwards is really important due to lots of stuff that I know nothing about but it seems to be summed up in 1) preventing damage and 2) maintaining flexibility. Don't quote me on this. Googling "stretching for runners" will give you a million different tips on what to stretch and I'm sure they're all great. For me, this video is the one that has worked the best and so I highly recommend it. Let me know if you have a good stretching routine to share! Don't run and not stretch, people. This is serious business.
At risk of sounding overly cynical; I have never been someone to enjoy exercise. Let's face it, I'd much rather lie on the couch and eat greasy food. However even I realise that maybe it's healthy to work up a sweat now and then. And I can recommend running. It's easy and running for 30 minutes three times a week doesn't take much time out of your schedule. At times it's almost enjoyable. Even better, the general smugness after running is definitely enjoyable. I think that's what they call endorphins. Take it from someone who knows the goodness of lazying about - exercise is not so bad after all. Maybe.