I get this a lot. People think I am anti-running. That I think it is bad for you and no one should do it. This is not true.
After last week I seem to have raised some eyebrows and ruffled some feathers. So be it. These are things people need to hear.
Note that I am talking about long duration and low intensity running. Going to a hill and running short 10 second sprints repeatedly falls into high intensity training. I am not discussing the actual activity of moving your body in a running motion but the low intensity way it is often practiced. As such, what I am saying also applies to cycling, swimming, walking, yard work, housework, and any other low intensity activity.
What is it about running that gets me going? My problem is that people do it for the wrong reasons. I am sure many will argue away with me and feel free to. Just make sure you can back up your argument with science and 10 years of experience to and we will get along just fine.
Everything with me is based on one simple thing: what is your goal?
You need to set a goal and then make sure you are doing everything you can in the most efficient manner to accomplish that goal. You have to measure your progress constantly and adjust things if necessary.
This is why I often get into debates on the effectiveness and efficacy of running. Because it is not the most effective, or in some cases even effective, way of accomplishing many of the goals people have with their health and fitness.
Here is a list of things that running is not the best at:
-Improving your cardiovascular health: high intensity training has greater impact on all markers of cardiovascular health than low intensity activity, in particular, heart rate, blood pressure, and VO2 max
-Preventing osteoporosis: this applies to men and women. Numerous studies have found that resistance training is more than 5x as effective at improving bone density as running is. In some cases running has actually been shown to decrease bone mineral density, while resistance exercise increases it.
-Losing fat( note we do not say weight): study after study has shown that high intensity exercise is the best way to decrease body fat. Low intensity aerobic based activities are often cited as the worst, sometimes barely better than control groups who perform no exercise at all! Running is NOT a good way to lose body fat!
-Preventing injury: runners often incorporate injury rehab time into their programs. The list of injuries associated with repetitive running is very long. Ask anyone you now who runs a lot and they will tell you about their shin splints, sore knees, hips, ankles, tight IT bands and achilles tendons. I question anything that comes along with a philosophy that injury is a natural part of the activity and is OK.
My final thought on running is this: if you love running and the experience of running, or you wish to compete in an event that involves a lot of running, then go for it. But you must prepare properly!
You must train to run, do not run to train.
And you must train right! Seek out an educated and experienced athletic trainer or sports conditioning specialist to create your program and teach you how to do it.
Side note: retail outlets that sell clothing and accessories SHOULD NEVER be your strength and conditioning or exercise coaches. That is not what they do! They are retail outlets! You wouldn’t ask your local health food stores advice on how to treat your cancer. Go to the pros.
If your goals include general long term health, prevention of osteoporosis, improved cardiovascular system health, decreasing injuries, increasing your body’s flexibility and movement, or losing body fat, then running is just not the best solution.