10 Laps To A Healthier You!

Running or jogging is a great way to burn calories (approximately 100 calories for every mile ran), really works the cardio system, tones and shapes the legs and if your run uphill, attack those glutes too. Learn how to make a healthier YOU!

Some people like to run while others like to walk. And often, those who run may soon find a better excuse to walk. Running or jogging is a great way to burn calories (approximately 100 calories for every mile ran). It works the cardio system, tones and shapes the legs and if you run uphill, attack those glutes too. Not everyone is built to run pretty (like a gazelle) or pain free (knee pain, shin splints, muscle pulls, blisters, etc). Improper body mechanics, whether by lack of knowledge or due to bone and joint structure can lead to injury, pain and discomfort.

But if you approach running or jogging like any new sport it can be a wonderful addition to your arsenal of aerobic exercises. What do I mean by the approach? Simple - prepare, start out slow and steady, always ease into something new, don't be afraid to take a break and walk, stretch, and get plenty of rest before hitting the road or track again. As the summer months approach, make sure you drink plenty of water and never run during the hottest points of the day, typically in the mid afternoon.

Quick and important side note: this article is written about running or jogging on a track. In most instances, you can run with the peace of mind knowing that nothing is going to get in your way or run into you. You can really get into it, or lose yourself in the music playing through your headset. This workout can also be done around your block. That is where the caution comes in! When running or jogging on the streets, you must always be aware of your surroundings. Always have some form of identification on you in case something should happen. Cars will always win the war of space occupation! And unfortunately drivers always seem to be in a hurry.

Hey, spring is finally here! And for us East Coasters, thank God! Albeit, the temperature outside is 65-plus degrees, the frequent gusts of cold wind are a quick reminder of winter's not-too-recent departure. Instead of going to the gym for an aerobic workout I decided to drive to my local park and run some laps on the track. There was an abundance of people there today. Several groups of children played soccer, your typical jogger in brand new sneakers carried a walkman, a couple of people balanced themselves on roller blades, and a few bikers raced up and down trailways. As I mentioned previously, it was my intention to run a couple of laps as soon as I got there but I found myself mesmerized by the brilliant sunlight and gaggle of activity. When I finally made my way down the bleacher stairs I decided to run with a little bit of creativity. Here is my new program.

Program - 10 Laps - (Described here for the novice runner/jogger)

What You Need:

  • A stop watch or watch with timer on it.
  • A track to run on.

Knowledge Point:

  • On a typical "standard" track, 1 lap = ¼ of a mile. Hence 4 times around the track = 1 mile.

Before Running Or Jogging:

  • Make sure you stretch. Bodybuilding.com has lots of great articles on stretching routines, so make sure you check them out so you have a comprehensive arsenal of stretching exercises to use. Most important stretches would be for your lower back, shoulders, groin, hams, quads and calves.
  • Try to run in a decent pair of sneakers designed for running.
  • Wear a sports bra and other types of clothing that will not iritate areas of your body.
  • Make sure your health is in good order. Check with your physician before you start any new exercise program.

Laps 1 & 2 (warm-up) Clockwise Direction:
Walk, don't run... 1st lap is intended to get your joints lubricated and muscles warmed up. On the 2nd lap try walking a little bit faster.

Laps 3 & 4 Counter Clockwise Direction:
Break into a slow jog. Complete both laps at a comfortable pace.

Wait a second, who said anything about ab work? Might as well while we are here! Perform 1-20 crunches (depending upon your ability)

Laps 5 & 6 (straight-a-ways & curves) Clockwise Direction:
On the straightaways you will run as fast as you can without sacrificing form. Slow down around the curves (resume your slow jog or walk if you feel like you need the rest).

North, East, South and West:
Stand in the middle of the track (small deep purple circle in center of purple oval) run to the North edge of the track and run back to the center (small deep purple circle) and perform 1- 20 crunches. With little to no rest run to East side of the track, run back to the center and perform 1-20 jumping jacks.

With little to no rest run to the South side of the track, run back and perform 1-20 crunches. With little to no rest run to the West side of the track, run back and perform 1-20 jumping jacks.

    Note: You can add any type of exercise to be performed in the center circle. For example: push-ups, bends and thrusts, running in place for 30 seconds, etc.

Laps 7 & 8 Counter Clockwise Direction:
These are walking or light jogging laps. You can switch things up, like walking straightaways and running curves, or walking lap 7 and jogging lap 8. It's entirely up to you and may vary on your energy levels for that day.

Laps 9 & 10 (timed laps) Counter Clockwise Direction:
Herein lies the test and success part of the program. Both these laps should be ran at a pace that is comfortable but with some speed. The goal is to get around the track as quickly as possible. At the conclusion of lap #9 check your watch/timer and make a mental note of the time. Keep running and do not turn off or reset the watch or timer. Lap #10 should be ran as quickly as possible as well. At the conclusion of lap #10 stop the timer/watch. Write down this time and the time for lap #9. Now you have lap times you can try to better the when you run this program again. Part of a successful fitness program is keeping a journal or marking down accomplishments.

Let's say it took you 2 ½ minutes to complete lap #9 and a total time of 6 minutes to complete both lap #9 and #10 (average of 12 minutes per/mile). If you can better these times the next time out then you can see and prove accomplishment.

Always remember that fitness should be fun. When the weather is in your favor, take advantage of it. These types of running/jogging programs can also be performed with a partner - great for motivation. Stay the course!