TTHIS Thursday, the fifth annual Bloomberg Square Mile Relay is happening. This race is a little bit unique in that you get to race against rival businesses, in relay, right on your doorstep.
I love the combination of the competitive edge with the fitness bit with this event. And the fact that the winners get to donate their winnings to the charity of their choice doesn’t hurt either. But for those of you who’ve yet to discover running or racing, let me try and win you over – I’ve lost count over the last decade of the number of times I’ve heard people say, “I hate running. I can’t stand it”, when they’ve never given it a chance. I understand this to a certain extent – I’m no Paula myself – but I do believe in giving easy, cheap forms of exercise which tick multiple boxes a go. It’s easy to get waylaid with cosmetic goals but the problem with cosmetic goals is that the novelty wears off pretty quick. Even if you manage to stay the course and achieve them, you’re still left with that “now what?” predicament at the finish line. Not so when you race. There are always new challenges to be had (think fell running, marathons, ultra-marathons, team events...and so on).
And what about the physical benefits? Let’s list the biggies:
1. Running’s a weight bearing activity (when your bones are working against gravity to support your body weight) so, contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t actually grind away your joints. In fact, your bones respond to this pressure by adding osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) which will help to slow down the natural loss of bone density in adults that happens with age
2. If we’re talking waistlines, you’d have to go some to beat running’s calorie-burn. Not to mention the fact that if you interval-train or include random speedwork (running fast for two lampposts; walking for one) in your session, you’ll ramp up your metabolic rate no end.
3. Let’s not forget the most important muscle of all, your heart. Running will raise your heart rate, giving your heart an all-important workout and improving your circulation, taking you one step further away from nasties like heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.