When you run, you put your body and mind through a whole set of processes and challenges. The physical fitness and mental focus required is truly astonishing, and the issues your body might experience are many, including muscle inflammation, strain, injuries and more. Although most of these issues can easily be prevented by running “the right way”, training regularly and doing your stretching, it is still something to consider.
In spite of all the challenges, running has a lot of positive body effects and benefits: for instance, physical activity releases endorphins, which help your mental state greatly, giving you a feeling of accomplishment, reward and balance.
Because of these particular mental dynamics, running also has a positive effect on a wide range of psychophysical issues, including stress. Jogging can indeed ease out physical and mental tension in a very positive way, and have lasting pyschological benefits if done regularly.
Running can also save your muscles and bones from the dangers of a sedentary life. If you work in front of a laptop all day, your bone structure and muscles will grow weaker. By contrast, if you run regularly, you will be able to keep them in working order and improve your health.
Regular running has also been shown to prevent aging, as it promotes the human growth hormone, which contributes to a healthier feel. When you are running, your body and mind have to work hard on keeping things together and coordinate a wide variety of processes; ranging from pacing your breathing, to the motion of your limbs, and even your heart rate.
Frequent running can indeed help improve the coordination of an individual, especially over a long period of time. This is the reason why the best long distance runners are particularly well-known for their coordination and motion skills.
What happens to your body over a certain period of time throughout the course of a run will change, as you keep running. During the first few seconds, your muscle will start using energy molecules known as ATP, to give you that energy burst you might experience when starting a run. In the first few minutes, your cells will continue to release more ATP, and break down the gycogen (glucose) found in your muscles and blood. This is also one of the reasons why running is a good exercise to prevent rising blood sugar levels.
In normal situations, the strain that muscles need to take in order for you to move is minimal: just slow twitches are powerful enough to get you through your daily tasks. On the other hand, when you actually run, your muscles will use all the fibers they can, and there is a lot of blood being used up in order to spread oxygen correctly throughout your body.
Your heart rate will also increase and direct blood towards your muscle, to improve the influx of oxygen, hence leading to heavier breathing.
The body starts burning calories and within the first 10-15 minutes, a well-trained runner will still be going strong, while a less experienced athlete might start struggling with fatigue, and lactic acid, which will cause muscle pain and a sense of inflammation.
After a run, as you slow down, your breathing rate and heart beat will slowly return to their normal pace, giving you a feeling of energy and a rush of dopamine that will positively affect your mood, as mentioned earlier. These are of course, very general guidelines, but it is a rather accurate breakdown of what your body (and mind) will go through during a run and right after it.
Of course, the more your run, the better you will be able to perform, gradually increasing your endurance and experiencing less and less fatigue, muscle inflammation and other issues that are common with beginners who are just getting started with regular running sessions.
The secret to great long distance running is not trying to be as fast as you can, but build your energy level and physical resistance overtime with consistent and progressive training, which will eventually make a real difference.
Even if you are an experienced runner, you will not be immune to some muscle wear and tear, and you might experience soreness for up to a week after a long run. In some situations, running a marathon requires so much strain on your body and it could be so debilitating that it might compromise your immune system for some time after the run, even up to a month.
The worse the conditions, the worse the impact on your immune system. For instance, if you set out to run a marathon in a truly hot place and did not manage to hydrate yourself correctly, your immune system will suffer, even for several months after the run. With an immune system off its guard, this means you will be exposed to threats such as colds and infections. There is actually a common and well-known phenomenon, often referred to as the “runner’s runny nose”. Have you ever experienced a runny nose while running?
This isn’t only due to sweating or temperature, but also because as you are straining to run, your body is more exposed to the allergens you will come across in the environment where you are running. Many runners who travel to foreign countries to attend marathons or other running events actually experiencing quite a stress in this particular matter. When you travel to new countries, you are naturally more exposed to new allergens or even bacterias that your body is not really familiar with, since you “belong” to a different environment.
There are also many other external factors that will go on to affect the performance of your body while running. For instance, the temperature and the weather conditions will certainly have an effect on your body’s strain and performance, with heat and cold temperature affecting your body in different ways.
Hydration is also very, very important. If you run without hydrating yourself correctly, your blood will be thicker. This means that you will stress your kidneys, which will have to make extra effort to keep up the pace. Stressed kidneys might cause problems while regulating your body temperature, which in turn, might lead you to overwork your muscles and get worn out more easily.
By contrast, if you manage to drink too much while running, you could develop hyponatremia, which is an actual imbalance of electrolytes. For reasons that are still debated by scientists, runners affected by hyponatremic are anable to remember numbers. When faced by questions such as “what is your address?”, they will be able to remember the street where they live in, but not the actual number of their building or apartment floor.
By knowing the benefits and the challenges you’re able to decide how much your body is going to take and when it’s time for a break. Always listen to the signals your body gives you while running but also during recovery.