People who train with me or who may have read my first blog will know that I’m not a lady who minces my words when it comes to physical fitness; you could say I’m very much in the straight-talking camp.
This week, risking the wrath of London’s runners I’m going to talk about running and the serious damage that some are inflicting on themselves. The aim of this post is not to stop runners from running per se, but trying to educate ‘jogging junkies’ from needlessly hurting themselves.
Too much of a good thing can be bad for you
We all know that broccoli is a fabulous ‘super food’ and is incredibly good for us when consumed as part of a balanced diet. However, if we ate nothing but broccoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day we would soon become unwell.
Running is very much like broccoli; because it’s great in moderation as part of a wider exercise program, yet potentially damaging when conducted in isolation.
Run, fat boy, run!
C’mon you’ve seen the group I’m talking about, maybe you are guilty of being one?
Those people that haven’t done any serious exercise in years and then think they can just pull on any old pair of trainers and pound pavement for an hour a few times a week in the hope they will lose weight.
That is until they get injured…
But even with a dodgy hip, knee or ankle it doesn’t seem to deter them as they carry on regardless with the help of elasticated sports bandages and painkillers. Sound familiar?
The lesson here is just because you run doesn’t necessarily mean you will become fit. Often people are deluding themselves by “pushing through the pain barrier” and causing real physical harm in the process.
“You can’t run to get fit; you need to be fit to run.”
As the respected Canadian physical therapist Diane Lee once stated; “You can’t run to get fit; you need to be fit to run”.
So what did Lee actually mean? The reality is that most people are not made to run. More specifically, they are particularly not made to run long distances.
In addition running is even harder on women as female runners are more susceptible to more injuries than men. Why?
Sport science has shown that movement training provides stability in hormone levels. As the human body loses body fat and gains muscle, natural testosterone levels increase/stabilise and in-turn the muscles grow stronger and so do the joints. Women physiologically are made up of more fat than men which means it takes longer for them to burn fat. As a consequence they can’t produce the same levels of testosterone as men leaving them prone to more pulls and strains.
Too much running made us aware of such conditions as plantar fasciitis and also gave us RICE, (no not the stuff you eat), but the acronym coined by renowned American strength & conditioning coach, Mike Boyle, and help make Sports Medicine a household word:
A good tip for both sexes; exercise should tire you out but shouldn’t hurt or strain your joints. The discomfort should be limited to the muscles and should go away almost immediately afterwards.
Variety is the spice of life
My belief is that a truly healthy body needs lots of hard work, running is not enough.
As someone whose education was gained on a sports performance scholarship I have experienced and seen first-hand the devastating impact that over running has had on many promising athletes careers.
My recommendation is high intensity cardio exercise such as running is best done in moderate short bursts and should be varied to limit the impact on joints, yet strenuous enough to get the heart pumping.
Focus on total body movement, not just running. The human body is a complex structure and needs variety. Mix your running routine up with other activities such as free weights, core training, swimming, cycling and rowing to compliment your fitness goals.
Then if in the future you do feel the need to take on a marathon challenge you will be fit and physically prepared.