We don’t know about you but moving our bodies more and running is on our agenda for 2023. We may not love running, but we hear it’s one of those things that if you stick at it, then you can actually start to enjoy it. We decided to ask the running experts at ASICS Middle East for their tips and this is what Jola Chudy the ASICS Community Manager had to say.
We have heard it’s possible for anyone to learn to love running - is this true?
Haha, I believe so! I was completely sedentary in the years after I had my child. A demanding career, a new baby, and frequent travel and entertaining for work, doesn’t sound like the ingredients for a love of running, but here I am a few years later, an ultra-runner who is passionate about how life-changing running can be on so many levels. There really isn’t a stereotype for who is a runner. Join any running group and you will see people from every walk of life, every shape and size, and every ability. Everyone started with that first tough kilometre. Every big journey starts with a step, and I always say if I can do it, a 40-something with a business, a job, a child, three cats and way too many projects, then really anyone can.
What 3 tips do you have for someone keen to give running a go?
Firstly, think about joining a friendly running community! One of the most important mental health benefits of sport is connecting with other people, and sport is a great social leveller. It’s not always easy to make friends as a busy working adult, but runners never run out of friends! In the Middle East, there are so many communities to join - @asicsme follows all our regional FrontRunner members, most of whom either lead or participate in running groups. Our favourite thing is making new runners feel welcome - don’t be shy to reach out.
Secondly, get a coach. If you learn to run well, then you run with far less risk of injury or discomfort. Although children run naturally, we lose a lot of our optimal form as we get older. From over-striding, to landing on our heels, to over-rotating our upper bodies, there are many things that can be improved by working with a coach. I never thought of myself as someone who fits the profile of having a coach - but just as we join a class led by a yoga or Zumba instructor without thinking twice, there’s a lot to be said for running in a group led by an expert.
Finally, get your running form checked out - ASICS stores and retailers offer a free service, where they video you on a treadmill and advise on the shoe that will work best for your style. At ASICS we don’t believe that expensive always equals best - we believe it’s more important to consider experience, running form and mileage when choosing the right shoe. Comfort is the most important factor in your shoe. It overrides everything else. We have just launched the GEL-Nimbus 25, which was voted by runners in an independent study as the most comfortable shoe they tried! I have to agree, having just tried running in mine for the first time. The balance of bounce and responsiveness, with an upper that fits around your foot like a glove, means I feel really supported in my run. Anyone who has ever run with a blister or sore toe will agree - comfort is queen!
Is walking as good as running?
If you’re looking for a way to destress your mind then any kind of movement can support that. It’s scientifically proven that moving your body - even for just 15 minutes and 9 seconds, as an ASICS study showed last year - will uplift your mind. That’s the most important thing. In terms of physical benefits, exercise is appropriate depending on individual goals and fitness. As a woman in my mid-40s, including heavy lifting in my weekly routine, is important for maintaining my bone density as I age. I love to run long, long distances, but sometimes a walk is exactly what I need to give myself a little reset in terms of feeling calm and relaxed.
Shoes are apparently one of the most important factors when running - tell us why this is?
The technology in running shoes has come a long, long way in recent years. Even just a few years ago, there were prototype running shoes only available to elite professional athletes - now they’re in shops for you and me to purchase. A good running shoe will support your running form and even correct poor form to a degree - important in supporting the prevention of injury. If you’re running on trails, you absolutely have to have shoes with ample grip to prevent you from slipping on technical surfaces. If you’re eyeing up a marathon on road, you need a shoe that will absorb the repetitive impact of tens of thousands of forceful steps to the ground. And if you’re going for an easy weekend jog with friends, why would you lace up in a shoe that didn’t feel absolutely great on your feet?
How long should you keep one pair of running shoes? Is there a general rule of thumb?
The new GEL-Nimbus 25 from ASICS, for example, has a recommended mileage of 500 kilometres. But that figure also needs some nuance, because it depends a little on your running style, and running environment too. Generally, if your shoe looks tired and a bit worn, that’s one indicator that you should have invested in a brand-new pair by now!
Can you wash/clean running shoes? If so, how is best?
This question reminds me of my mum cleaning my white school sneakers with a toothbrush and minty toothpaste! Although I had the whitest shoes in school, I don’t think it’s a recommended method. Although running shoes are designed to be durable on the road, they’re made with special materials - just as you wouldn’t throw a cashmere sweater in the wash, treat your running shoes accordingly. I usually take out anything that is removable such as insoles and laces, and wash them separately in warm water, with a mild detergent. For the shoe itself, I sponge the upper gently, and then rinse quickly and leave it to air dry. You can pop a bit of baking soda in to absorb residual odours or moisture.
A lot of your focus has been on mental health recently and the link between mind and body. Why is this?
The connection between a sound mind and a sound body is nothing new at ASICS; the brand’s Japanese founder understood this in 1949 when he created a brand to encourage a depressed post-war society to get moving for better mental well-being. It’s really been at the heart of our brand since then, and I think in today’s busy world it is more applicable than ever. Our recent documentary Mind Games explored the link between physical movement and improved mental performance. Personally, I know how transformative running and movement have been. After I challenged myself to run long distances, my self-confidence and mental health were transformed. I’m passionate about sharing my story with others, which is why ASICS asked me to join their ambassador program, which I now lead in the Middle East. Being confident in my running feeds into every aspect of my life. I developed a strong conviction in my abilities which means I take on projects and goals that I would have never considered before, from an Ironman 70.3 to winning multinational clients for my communications business. It’s amazing to think that lacing up my shoes a few years ago for a 2km bimble became a spark that transformed my life.
What’s your favourite song to run to?
Hehe, I only listen to music in my car. When I’m running, I listen to my feet and let my subconscious wander. It’s the ideal problem-solving time for me, my ‘movement meditation’.
One last piece of wisdom about running you want to share?
Some days your run feels amazing and on other days it simply does not. Mostly though, if you keep running through the not-so-amazing bits, you’ll realise it all has the capacity to be better than you thought. Too many of us stop when it doesn’t feel great. That’s also applicable to life - you have to keep moving forwards, even when it sucks - success is just around the corner from that sucky bit, so keep pushing.