By: Robert Maalouf BS, CSCS, FMSC, CPT, CF-L1
There are big controversies on this issue, but nevertheless, one of the first things people do when embarking on a journey to get fit is to start running. I definitely think running has its place in a fitness program, but I do think that most people rush into running before truly understanding how to program it into a workout.
My main problem with running is that if you haven’t done in a long time, then it’s probably too intense an activity for your body- especially your joints. That doesn’t mean you can’t physically do it, but if you haven’t ran in a few years and then you start going out for 5 mile runs, you will most likely be wreaking havoc on your joints. Running is typically rated as a medium level intensity type of activity but if you haven’t been exerting yourself physically for some time, then I would actually rate running as a high level intensity.
If you have recently started your fitness journey or are thinking about starting, consider other cardio activities such as biking, rowing, or even walking at an incline. You can definitely include running into your program, but depending on your current physical condition, it is probably best to start in small increments and slowly work your way up to longer distances. Make sure and listen to your body if you start feeling joint pain in the ankles, knees or lower back. It is important that you reduce your running frequency if you begin to feel joint pain. You need to remember that running causes a lot of impact on your body compared to rowing or biking, and this impact (despite it being light for advanced runners), can build up and lead to long term injuries.
I personally dislike running, but I still incorporate it into my program just to keep in good enough shape to be able to run several miles if needed – you never know when you need to run across an airport to catch a flight! 🙂 In the past I did go through a phase where I had no running or cardio in my workout, and I remember one of my coaches made us run a mile. Although I had a six pack, and lifted heavy 5 days a week I hadn’t gone running in a few years. At that point I realized how painful running can be if you’re not in shape to run.
After going through that experience, and later seeing some of my clients go through similar experiences, I came to learn to in some cases you need to get fit to run and not the other way around. Of course this will all depend on the individual, but keep in mind that if you find running difficult, there are plenty of other cardio activities that will help you improve and make running a little easier.
I hope this clears up some misconceptions about running, and shows you that there are many different ways to approach exercise. Find what works for you and share it with us!!! All this talk about running has given me an urge to run, I think I’ll head to the beach for a run, see you there!!! Feel free to comment and ask questions!!!