A client asked me about running the other day…
“Is running good for me?”
“isn’t running one of the best ways to lose weight?”
In this post I thought it would be good to give you my take on running. I’ll answer the question throughly and look at the pros and cons so that you can make up your own mind…
My Experience Of Running…
To be honest I really enjoy running, I know some people absolutely hate it! but i’ve done lots of running over the years and it’s definitely something I enjoy. That said I don’t run very often, in fact over the last 5 years i’ve probably done no more than 20 runs (that means I run on average 4x per year!).
I used to run all of the time back when I was in high school, at the age of 13 (year 9) I was running 3-5 miles per day every day, and i loved it! Back then I was playing ice hockey, so endurance training was a big part of my fitness program.
Pros of Running…
Running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, there’s no doubt about it!
You can do sprints, which are good for building muscles in the legs and for improving anaerobic fitness (short intense exercise capacity).
You can also do long distance running, which is great for muscular endurance and for improving your bodies ability to be ‘oxygen efficient’.
Both types of running (high intensity and lower intensity) burn lots of calories and can potentially help you to lose weight, providing you are in a calorie deficit and don’t stuff your face with Pizza all of the time! So from a weight loss perspective it can be a tool that’s used successfully.
Running also improves circulation and can improve how your heart functions on a day to day basis.
If you build up to a good level of aerobic fitness you’ll have more energy and be able to carry out daily tasks much more easily, for example: walking up stairs, running for a bus, hiking up hills, chasing your kids around the park, carrying boxes at work, house chores like hoovering, gardening, painting, etc – basically any manual labour!
Cons of Running…
Running places lots of stress on your joints, in particular the ankles, feet, knees, and hips. It can also aggravate the lower back and cause physical discomfort. With each stride you are placing your full body weight on each leg and it’s very easy to get injured.
As much as I love running, if I go out for a run I feel it the next day – and not in a good way! Typically my knees and feet hurt and it can take me a full week to recover!
The other disadvantage of running is that it’s not going to do much to change your body shape. Yes, it burns calories, which can lead to weight loss but it doesn’t really improve the shape of your body. There are more effective ways to change your body shape and lose weight and ones that are less likely to cause joint damage.
For example you can still get the same cardiovascular benefits as running from doing: swimming, rowing, power walking, playing sport, and cycling. Low impact exercise like cycling and swimming are excellent because they place far less stress on your joints but still improve fitness.
Things To Consider…
What’s your primary goal?
Is it to get fit? lose weight? improve your body shape? or maybe it’s a mixture of all three? Maybe you want to run a marathon?
If you have a running goal then you’re obviously going to have to practice running! If however your primary goal is to lose weight and get fit then you’d be better off doing low impact cardio and hitting the weights.
Do You Love Running?
The only time i’d ever recommend running to clients is if they love it! I would never deny somebody of doing any form of physical exercise, especially when they enjoy it. I have some LEP members who go running 3-5x per week, because it’s a passion of theirs, I don’t object, instead I support them in our training sessions by showing them mobility drills, keeping them supple and working on upper body muscles to give their legs a rest!
If you love running then do it! If however you don’t then i’d recommend ditching the running and opting for low impact cardio and weights (as mentioned above).
Taking Care Of Your Body…
If you run at least protect yourself as best as possible. Make-sure to wear suitable running attire, like comfy, cushioned footwear.
Also make-sure that you do a 5-10 minute warm up. I’d recommend using a ‘foam roller’ and ‘lacrosse ball’ to loosen off the feet, thighs, hamstrings and glutes. I’d also recommend doing some mobility drills for the lower back, hips, ankles and knees.
At least by wearing sensible running gear and by doing a proper warm up you are giving yourself the best chance of a good running session, whilst mitigating potential injury.
I’d also recommend having a hot bath after a run, add in some bath salts and let your body relax for 20-30 minutes. If you prefer a shower, then just before you get out, put the temperature on FREEZING COLD and try and stay in there for 30-60s. The icy cold shower will help to lower inflammation and aid recovery.
To summarise, i’m not anti running, It just depends in which context. For most people I wouldn’t recommend running, i’d opt for safer exercise. That said if a person loves running then I support them and admire the fact that they are exercising in the first place.
For me the most important part about exercise for myself and for LEP Fitness members is the enjoyment factor. If you enjoy something you’ll stick at it. Whether you like running, rowing, weight training, tennis, football, rugby, walking or whatever it may be, as long as you are exercising that’s the main thing.
Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this post and learned a thing or two please give it a “thumbs up”