Here are a few of my thoughts on running and what the general population are doing,plus the mistakes people are making with their running.
First of all…
Here are two pics of me and there are six years apart.
* 10kg down in bodyweight
* Better Mobility
* Still haven’t mastered a smile in a race 😆
But seriously,all of these improvements have come from majority of gym work and not on the road.
You see we think that we need to up the miles and although mentally it can help, physically for a lot of us, it can take its toll. I have been there, calf cramp, shin splints, sore back. We are not all built to run, and especially not on the hard concrete.
A few things that have helped me:
* Strength training – Studies have shown that strength training increases performance and also aids in the prevention of muscle atrophy(wastage) which can come into play, especially for distance runners. A 2010 paper by Philip Tan from Department of Sports Medicine, Changi General Hospital, Singapore has shown that:
various forms of resistance training especially in the form of explosive movement training such as plyometrics, are able to improve running economy and distance running performance
It does say the biggest benefit or increase in performance comes from unfit or untrained individuals which are the majority of people out running the roads.
* Mobility – I see it all the time, runners run but spend very little time doing any meaningful stretches or mobility work. Can you touch your toes, get into a half decent couch stretch? If not then you have work to do. Lifting your leg up and grabbing your toe and getting a thirty second each side will do sweet nothing in the grand scheme of things. Need some ideas? Check out my article here. Most runners need basic mobility but just need to work on it much more often.
* Warm up – putting your shoes on and going out for a run is all well and good, but at least warm up, you wouldn’t go to the gym without doing a warm up. It elevates your heart rate and gets your body ready for action. The first few mins everyone complains about their breathing. That is because you start with your resting heart rate and it quickly elevates, requiring slot of your body until it adjusts.
* It’s not all about the miles, it’s about your capacity. I run very little these days but have maintained and in some races shortened my time. I work on my aerobic capacity which helps me learn how to pace without blowing up and is really effective for building up speed endurance and control of breathing (these are often heavily overlooked).Instead of running 10/15/20k I do intervals(200/400/600/800m) at specific paces and rest periods.
Most people’s limit factor is there ability to regulate their heart rates, breathing etc… So for most who just want to do a 5/10k then there can be a huge benefit here and don’t mistake it with just sprint work. More on the aerobic capacity teachings of Chris Henshaw here.
* Injuries – Like any sport or activity, injuries do happen. Unlike most sports/activities, they are needless and have occurred because unlike most sports or activities we have not put in the time or practice. Running is a skill and although we can just get up and go, most of us do not put in the time or effort to watch how we are running, how we are warming up, how we are fuelling our bodies pre and post run, and also how we are stretching and mobilising afterwards.
I have spoken about injuries and what to do about them here. The problem is we often only worry about injuries or niggles when they are acute which means we generally have to stop what we are doing.
If it is an ankle or knee issue then a bike or rowing machine should allow you to maintain your aerobic capacity and elevate your heart rate without causing any excess impact which may worsen the injury depending on what it is.
Running with an injury is not a badge of honour and WILL worsen over time. Get to a physiotherapist and look for alternative exercise while you are resting. Listen to your body!
*Running For Fat Loss – While plenty of people have lost weight from running, there are far more effective ways of losing weight. Running in a race is a great way to show off your increased levels of fitness but what I have found is that going out for a couple of runs a week, especially starting off is not going to elicit the response your body needs to lose weight. What is a far more effective approach is to vary things up.
Instead of running 5 times a week. Strength training twice a week, this will include mobility work a possibly an aerobic workout (bike, rowing machine, swimming) , run 1-2 times a week and pick a day in which you use as active recovery (yoga, pilates, mobility etc..)
REMEMBER – I am talking here about beginners and in some cases intermediates. I am in no way saying running is bad for you, I am just stating issues that I have found and may arise if you are starting out, especially untrained, overweight individuals who do not strength train or have a decent aerobic, strength or have little or no mobility.
So I’ll end it there before I go into too much more. Remember it doesn’t just come down to getting out and running. Strength train, work on your mobility and work on your aerobic capacity and you will be smashing pbs in no time.