Running/jogging has been getting a lot of negative attention lately.
Personally I’m not a fan of long(ish) distance running for a lot of reasons:
- Time commitment
- Enjoyment factor
- Personal goals I want to receive from my training
But just because I don’t particularly like to run doesn’t mean you don’t. While running definitely is not the magical activity a lot of people believe it to be, there are massive benefits to getting active by doing something you enjoy. If you enjoy running, great.
The problems arise when people start to think of running as the be all and end all of training and that it is the answer to all your health, fitness and fat loss goals…… and even the answer to all your running goals. It’s not.
Here are a few of my personal observations.
1) I know a few people who run as a big part of their training- triathalon, marathons, etc.. A very small % of them look healthy. The rest look hagard and very unhealthy.
The minority who look healthy usually have a very good strength base, perform well in basic tasks (such as touching thir toes, squatting, standing on 1 leg, etc,) and have healthy lifestyle habits such as sleep, nutrition, etc. They don’t just run. They focus on developing the other important aspects of training and health and these make them much healthier runners.
The majority who look beat up are nearly always the opposite- weak as new born kitten (eg. horrible looking push up, can’t do 1 decent chin up, can’t deadlift much compared to what they should be capable of), have major challenges perfroming simple tasks (eg. can’t touch their toes, terrible looking posture, can’t stand on 1 leg, unable to perform a simple lunge, etc.). They simply don’t develop the other important aspects of sustainable health and sports performance.
2) A lot of people who take up running are using it to lose weight. The problem here is that there are far better tools available to them to accompish this goal in far less time and in a much safer way. If you are carrying a lot of excessive fat you are putting your joints under crazy pressure with every single stride you take especially if your running mechanics are out, your legs aren’t very strong, your core isn’t doing it’s job, your carrying an injury, etc.
I know several people who started their fat loss and fitness journey by taking up running and because they didn’t go about it the right way done serious damage to ankles, knees, etc.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of runners carry a lot of fat and loo very soft?
If your goal is fat-loss ad you decide to focus solely on running instead of a more effective approach (which a lot of people I know do) your taking on the job with the wrong tool. Just like the man who tried to cut the grass with the kettle.
3) The majority of people who run never actually learn how to run. If you are serious about anything in life and want to get the most benefit from your investment in it (time, money, etc.) you need to learn how to do it properly. Improper running mechanics can seriously mess you up and set you back with your goals, recovery, physio bills, etc. Invest in a coach and do it right. Your body will thank you for it 5, 10 or 20 miles into the Cork city marathon. You’ll also enjoy it more, achieve better results to show for it and will be more durable in the long term.
4) Many runners find it so hard to take a break from running in order to bring up their weak areas- mobility, core activation, strength, posture, etc. Listen guys, the best athletes in the world take DECENT BREAKS. I’m not talking about a week here and there. They have planned breaks built into their programs to let their body recover and come back stronger. Choose your priority races throughout the year, give them all your focus and effort and back off. Every time I see an athlete train excessively for whatever reason they end up seriouly burn’t out or beat up. If this sounds like you, you need to change your mindset before it stops you in your tracks.
If you like running for the sake of running or it’s a part of your sport then go for it. Get educated about what you need to do and then implement your new found knowledge.
If your goal is fat loss and general health/wellbeing and you are focusing solely on running (or other forms of cardio) you are wasting a lot of time and setting yourself up for failure and frustration. You need the right tool for the job.
Whatever you decide, get educated so that you can make an informed decision and go about it the right way.
Stay healthy guys.