Hey there, runners! Since you’re reading this most likely you have at least some experience with regular running and you must have thought about it one way or another – is it worth it?
Here’s my take on it. I have been doing sports all my life, professional tennis training included and I’ve run … a lot. After quitting playing tennis actively I felt the need to do cardio exercise, hence I turned to running. Very fast I got into a routine of running 10k every day. Needless to say, I was both exhilarated, addicted to it, but often felt let down by the effect I was seeing. Why is that?
Running is great. It’s great for the cardiovascular system, for unwinding after a hard day at work. It’s great if you want to listen to music and get in a zone, where you put yourself in a different state of mind. Sometimes it’s like entering a different reality.
Okay, cool. So far, so good. But that doesn’t mean it will get you a dream body or a super healthy one. Actually, if you feel too fanatic about running you might end up doing more harm than good to your body. Studies, which have followed active runners over decades, have concluded that the benefits of running level off after 2-3 runs a week. You very well know that most active runners do twice that, at least, if not 2 times a day.
Running does not put enough resistance on your muscles. When running most of the time you are actually gliding over the ground and the push you exercise on the surface is minimized by the kinetic energy, which you have accumulated going forward. Plus the contraction and extension of the muscle fibers is very limited. We are speaking about regular, run-in-the-park type of jogging. When you are running on a different terrain like a mountain the physics of running may be totally different, due to the versatility and incline of the terrain.
If you want to shape and tone the muscles of your legs it would be better to combine a reasonable amount of running with resistance exercises, which allow your muscles a wider range of motion. Muscles grow when we challenge them (put some resistance on them). Use some bands or weights. Do some squats, some lunges, even with your own weight. Do a small workout and save yourself a lot of waste of time and some bad long-term injuries from overuse.
What I often see in running is trying to achieve a result with more of that, which doesn’t work. Some women have asked me why running doesn’t get them rid of cellulite. Well, because it doesn’t build up the muscle below the problematic zone. It’s a lot better to invest 10 minutes of dedicated leg training instead of yet another hour of running.
I do run a lot. But I do it playing soccer 2-3 times a week for 90 minute sessions. On those I run almost 7-10km every time. But it’s different than regular running. High-intensity running really does put a serious strain on your muscles. It also includes fast starts and lots of maneuvers, flexibility and sharp turns. Playing soccer also allows you to switch between brutal sprints and easy walking all the time. So, if you have the option to choose between playing some kind of sport and just running, choose the former.
What’s your take on the topic? I would be happy to learn your point of view, answer questions, etc.