Take time, get a healthy snack, cut your reading tunes on, and enjoy the
knowledge I wish to share with you. As you read I want you to think about how
this information can apply to you and how it can help you achieve your goals.
Health Benefits Of Running
Aides in disease prevention
Boost Immune System
Improves Aerobic Efficiency (Central, Peripheral)
Weight Loss “Positively enhances metabolic makeup”
Relieves Stress / Fights Depression
Bone Integrity (Weight Bearing Benefits)
Enhances Outlook on Life
Is running bad for joints?
A misconception is that running is bad for your joints. Research reveals that individuals who run actually have healthier knees (1).
People who run also have higher levels of bone density (2).
One of the problems with running injuries is this, too often we start an exercise program with improper programming. I frequently hear a client say, "my doctor told me not to squat, not to run, and that any impact would be bad for my knees." This is Interesting. The reason people get injured when exercising is due to improper programming. If you have poor exercise programming complimented with bad exercise technique and poor recovery you WILL get injured.
Our job as trainers and medical professionals is to first do no harm thus, reducing the chance of injury. The problem with this line of thinking is saying X is bad for a client because well, just because. I really wish not to step on toes here but this needs to be said, so I will apologize before saying this, "Sorry." How many doctors know how to perform a proper squat or to program a progressive running program? Don't get me wrong there are some amazing doctors.
Exercise programming and evaluation of proper exercise technique is not something that happens day to day in the MD world. Doctors make recommendations with FIRST do no harm and we have to commend them for that. We need to turn to our fitness professionals to work with our medical professionals when it comes to exercise programing with healthy clients.
Running and Programming
Running is a very natural thing and after we learn to walk it happens like second nature.
We wear improper shoes, sleep in bad positions, develop muscles imbalances, eat foods that cause inflammation, work long hours, sleep poorly, and develop muscle tightness and weaknesses.We go to run and get injured. I hear this a lot, "I was running, and now I can't run because I _insert running injury_". DON'T let all of the above deter you, keep fighting the good fight! If life were perfect it would be boring and pointless. What I typically see happens is a trainee has poor programming and bites off more than they can chew in exercise programming.This mouthful leads to injury. Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should do it.
What is proper running program?
I define proper programming as this; a running program that challenges the body to improve through little increments, allowing proper recovery, enhancing exercise program efficacy, achieving healthy changes, and thus, reaching a higher level of fitness.
Our bodies bone and muscle tissue of the lower extremities takes longer to develop than our aerobic cardiac tissue. What this means is that muscle tissue and bones adapt at a slower rate than our heart and lungs. Our lungs are challenged and can continue to work but If we push our bones and muscles we invite injures.
A great exercise program should allow for recovery before the next BIG effort.
Maybe running does hurt if you really push it. When I coach beginners, return to running programs, and general population I like to emphasize low intensity.
Running should not be painful.Running shouldn't feel muscled or forced. When you finish your run you should feel refreshed. If you finish and are about to pass out, you are outside of your fitness.
One of the tools I like to utilize is a heart rate monitor. Keeping your heart at a certain range ensures from a physiological standpoint that you are in the right fitness zone.
Body awareness is also a crucial element in proper run fitness. 90 percent of your running should be easy and effortless. I define fitness zone as your current level of fitness and not the desired level of fitness.
A problem with running outside of your fitness zone is it dramatically increases the chance of injury and regression. The old no pain no gain is a load of mess. Pain is your body warning system. If you put your hand in the fire you will burn yourself. Just because you hold your hand in fire and it hurts doesn't mean you are flame resistant. I am not sure where the whole no pain no gain B.S. came from.
Beginner Sample Running Program
The principle is simple, allow for recovery and improvements will follow.
I like to utilize time in minutes when beginning an exercise program. It may take a new runner longer to cover miles than a more experienced runner. That means it makes no since for me to recommend miles when athlete A may run 1 mile in 6 minutes and athlete B may run 1 mile in 15 minutes. The body doesn't understand miles it understands stress and time under stress. Naturally as you progress you will increase the stress. Don't compare miles to miles. Not all miles are the same.
Monday-Walk 5 Minutes then Run 2 Minutes (Repeat 2x)
Wednesday-Walk 5 Minutes then Run 2 Minutes (Repeat 2x)
Friday-Walk 15-20 Minutes / Strength Training
Sunday-Walk 5 Minutes then Run 2 Minutes (Repeat 3x)
(My Foam Rolling and Stretching Blogs Couple Nicely With Stretching Days).
Following a week like this you would assess how your body feels. Daily energy levels, joint pain, muscle soreness and how challenging was the routine are all variables to address.
What about muscle confusion?
Muscle confusion is a popular trend in the fitness community.
At 4 years old you learn the alphabet and you learn one language at a time. Not all the languages of the world at once. I judge the success of an exercise program by gauging improvement. How can I know whats working if I have no control variables? Every time you go into a fitness endeavor you should be tracking progression. If you can never master a technique how can you be proficient? In the early stages of exercise almost anything you do will invoke improvements. Something is better than nothing. As you progress your goals you will need a program and a plan. It's the reality of it.
REMEMBER you need to MEASURE PROGRESSION.
What can you do to get started
Hire a trainer/coach who has running credentials.
Research and work towards a safe exercise routine.
Go to a running specific shoe store. Running analysis are great for proper shoe fit.
Find what it is you enjoy about exercise and do more of it.
Learn to listen to your body. Don't kill yourself because you have to run x amount of miles today.
There are many positive benefits to running. One of the things I enjoy is the added energy throughout the day. There is a reason they call it endurance. If you have any physical limitations most of the running programming ground work can be applied to all aerobic exercise. (Walking, Biking, Rowing, Elliptical Trainer etc..) Remember to have fun and enjoy the process.
Always open to questions and coaching,
David Piggott (CPT,CES,PES)