Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Why I Started Running

Over the course of my fitness journey I have been sporadic doing cardio. I have been active my entire life. Playing sports and exercising since I can remember. During college and into my early twenties I started lifting weights and continued to play pickup basketball. As I got more serious into my lifting and played basketball less I would use machines such as the elliptical and the stairmaster.  Recently I realized it has been many years since I did cardio consistently. I would do circuits with my weight training and attempt new sequences that would get my heart up, but still wasn’t doing traditional cardio. 

I’m blessed with good genetics. My metabolism is very fast and I’m naturally very lean. My concern was to maintain size and strength that took a long time to put on through trial and error. From a health standpoint I realized it was time to increase my cardiovascular training. The best way to do it was to incorporate something I have never been a fan of and that is running!

For the first time in many years I wasn’t concerned about how much I weighed or size. This time it was to improve my endurance. The only sport I still play consistently is softball and that is three months out of the year and only one day/week. I was going to do other forms of cardio besides running. I knew this would a mental challenge as much as physical because it was something I did not care to do.

I train six days/week. I started with running two days, stairmaster two days, elliptical and row machine two days after lifting. The first day I got on the treadmill  I looked down and it was only a quarter of a mile and it felt like my heart was coming out of my chest. I had to keep pushing. I started with a mile. After a few weeks of two days I decided to keep doing the stairmaster on my two legs days and add one day of running. After a week of that I could feel myself turning the corner. I was increasing the speed and mentally I knew when the fatigue would first hit me that I would get a second wind.

It has been almost two months of running and doing cardiovascular exercises consistently. I can see that I’m leaner with more definition and my body fat as decreased. I haven’t stepped on a scale since I started because I don’t care what my weight is right now. During my lifting session my recovery is faster and I’ve maintained my strength. My appetite has been the same, I eat 4-5 medium to large meals/day and 1-2 snacks. 

To preserve muscles I have increased my protein and carbohydrate intake and increased the volume of my strength training. Post workout I consume BCAAs, proteins, and carbohydrates, that hasn’t changed with the increase in cardio.

I’ve increased my running to four days/week for a one mile to 1 1/2 each time. Occasionally I have run for two miles. That has been a good balance because even though I know the weight I will lose is mostly fat I want to maintain muscle and strength. So far I have been pleased with the results. I’m getting more acclimated to running and will continue. I'm still not crazy about it, but the challenge of doing something different is what is driving me so I'll keep running.

Jamaal Piper
Health and Wellness Consultant/Personal Trainer

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