Who doesn’t know this line?
Made popular during the 70’s, still strong today and showing no signs of going anywhere, running is one of the most popular forms of exercise for a few reasons:
1 – most people can do it
2 – not much equipment is needed
3 – can be done pretty much anywhere
4 – it gives you an instant feeling of accomplishment
5 – it gives you prompt results
It only works like this for a few people.
Let me speak to each one of the points above
1 – A couple of years ago I saw the finish of the Toronto marathon and even though I have to commend the finishers for their hard work, I couldn’t ignore the number of people that were not running, but fast limping!
Running is not just a matter of placing one foot ahead of the other. Gait, muscle imbalances and proper form should all be addressed before someone takes up this sport. Like with any sport, technique is essential, and like any other form of physical activity, as soon as you lose perfect form in the execution of the movement, you defeat its purpose.
2 – Footwear varies in price, and the choice is determined by the distance that you are running. You should be buying at least 4 pairs a year. Heart rate monitors go from simple ones that only read heart rate and show time, to wrist computers that can generate graphs and have gps, therefore you can pay as much or as little as you want. Remember that the type and quality of your gear should match the type of training that you are doing (distance, level of competitiveness, level of coaching). Therefore running a 5k wearing jeans and boots is doable but not really wise.
3 – In the treadmill era, it is hard to disagree with that and for the people that are more into outdoor running, there are various options depending where you live.
4 – Well, going from point A to point B or doing X minutes of running are concrete and measurable goals and that is great for our egos. But as important as that is, the release of endorphins and adrenalin have their downside. They can put us in a trance-like state, which on one hand is pure joy, and on the other hand can be addictive on its own. The runner may like that feeling so much, that the fact that the body is screaming for a bit of rest every once in a while may be ignored.
5 – That is a bit of a myth. You actually don’t really change body composition during exercise; your body uses exercise as a form of stimulus that will end up promoting the change. Even though you are burning those calories during your run, what you do between runs is what really matters: how well you recover, what type of nutrition you have, your fluid intake, etc. All these factors will impair or create positive body changes.
All in all, if you are going to run or not, it is your call not mine.
If you want to do it, don’t over do it, have unrealistic expectations or do it for the wrong reasons.
If you choose to run, talk to someone that knows the sport – preferably a professional coach. Get yourself evaluated biomechanically, define clear and attainable goals and respect your limitations.
Enjoy the challenge, the exercise and the results!