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How to Start Running – Without Feeling Like a Failure

How to Start Running – Without Feeling Like a Failure

runner on beach

    Do you sometimes wish you were fitter? And maybe slimmer? I do. In fact, I’m determined to lose 7 kg in four weeks and get really fit. But how to get fit in a hurry – without spending hours at the gym?

    One of the fastest ways to get fit is to start running.

    It can be daunting if you’ve never run before. Especially if you have friends, colleagues or family members who talk casually about how they run 7 miles each morning before breakfast. (Don’t you sometimes want to throttle them?)

    I just spent three weeks with my family and two of them, my brother and my niece, thought nothing of running for an hour-and-a-half after spending an exhausting day stumbling through thick rain forest. It made me feel like a fitness failure…

    In the end, I started to run too. Because running is great for getting fit fast. There are some important advantages of running as a fitness strategy:

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    1. It boosts cardiovascular fitness.
    2. It tones your whole body because so many muscle groups are involved when you run.
    3. Weight-bearing exercise, such as running, is especially good in promoting bone density and protecting against osteoporosis, which affects men as well as women.
    4. Running is a natural movement. The body is designed to be able to run.
    5. As one of the most vigorous exercises out there, running is an efficient way to burn calories and drop pounds.

    Here are some tips that will help you develop running:

    1. Buy good shoes

    It’s worth going to a specialty shop to buy a pair of running shoes. Make sure that the salesperson looks at the shape and arch of your foot to figure out the best shoes for you. The reason good shoes are important is because it will soften the impact and protect your joints.

    2. Take it slow

    When you start running, it doesn’t matter how slow you go. Remember that your body needs to get used to new movement.

    3. Ease into running with interval training.

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    The best way to get fit fast is through interval training. This means short burst of high intensity exercise alternating with recovery periods. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise.

    Try alternating 5 minutes of walking and one minute of running for twenty minutes. As you get fitter, you can lengthen the periods of running. Once you get used to running, you can alternate slow jogging with fast sprints.

    4. Warm up first

    It’s important to warm up your body before running. Otherwise running will feel very hard and your body will moan and groan. Walking is a great way to warm up the body. Stride out and pump your arms. Start with a medium paced walk and then speed up until you start to sweat. Once your body is warm, you are ready to run.

    5. Use correct running technique

    Beginners like me find it difficult to relax while running. Keep your head up and your lower arms in hip height, and run without bouncing. It all helps to work your body more efficiently. Check out this video about correct running technique.

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    6. Run with others

    A great way to keep up your motivation is to run with others. See if a colleague or a friend is willing to come running with you. Set an interval schedule for your run and stick to it.

    7. Keep an exercise diary

    Keep a record of your new exercise routine. Write down each day what kind of exercise you have done. A great way to track your growing fitness is by measuring your resting pulse before you get up in the morning. As you get fitter, your resting pulse will get lower.

    8. Add strength exercises to the mix

    Building strength in your legs will help you to run. A simple way to build your leg muscles is by doing squats. Stand with feet a little more than shoulder width apart. As you squat, keep your feet on the ground and swing your arms to the front in order to keep your balance. Start with 3 sets of 10 squats but don’t get carried away. If you do too many at one time, you might have difficulty walking the next day! As you get fitter, you can add more sets to your squat routine.

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    9. Add a cool-down period after exercise

    It’s important for the body to cool down after running. The best way is to walk at a medium pace until your heart-rate returns to normal.

    10. Stretch after running

    It’s a good practice to stretch after running because it keeps your body flexible. Watch this short video on which stretches to do after running.

    If you follow the ten points above, you will become a runner – without feeling like a failure. Remember that you can start running at any age. Bob Hayes took up running when he was 60. After a little while, he decided to enter a 5km fun-run and his son gave him his first pair of trainers. He said afterwards, “I wasn’t feeling as fit as I would have liked to. Perhaps age is catching up on me?” Yeah, right!

    Fast forward 20 years…
    At age 80, Bob completed his tenth 50-mile ultra-marathon in Montana and has made running history. He said afterwards:

    “I’m in the best shape of my life.”

    If you follow these 10 tips, you will get into the swing of running. Soon you will feel your body tone up and slim down in response to the exercise. Best of all, you’ll begin to feel confident, healthy, and attractive.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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