Megan Davey in Jamaica, mon!
“You don’t run to get in shape, you get in shape to run”
I’ve been meaning to write on this topic for some time now, and I’ll try my best to keep my thoughts cogent and concise. Running is probably the most popular recreational fitness activity around. You can do it anywhere, both indoors and outdoors, pretty much any season of the year. Whether you are competitive or just do it for ‘fun’, or as a way to stay in shape, the majority of people that walk through my doors at the gym mention running as something they currently do, or aspire to do in the future.
Here are the facts:
1) Running is a high impact activity. The impact forces of every footfall you take is around 4-6x your bodyweight being transmitted up your skeletal system. For the average person, that’s 1000 footfalls per mile, multiplied by 4-6x your bodyweight in total stress on your joints.
2) Most people suck at running. Don’t be offended, but it’s true. While almost everyone is capable of running, very few people you see are actually proficient and skilled at running. Compound this with the modern running shoe which causes you to hit your heel first instead of the ball of your foot, and you have a recipe for ankle, knee, hip, and back problems down the line.
2a) Running has a remarkably high incidence rate of injury. It is not a question of if, but a question of when. Read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall for more on this subject. Running demands both lower body and core strength, as well as good joint mobility and flexibility to be performed properly. If you are overweight or out of shape, recognize that running is probably not a smart option to regain your fitness, at least not at the onset.
3) What should you do? Jump rope, ride a bike, go walking or hiking outdoors, swim, lift weights, row, try some bodyweight training, push or pull a sled, play a sport. There are a multitude of options that are much safer, yes SAFER, than running that can prepare you to eventually run effectively.
4) Re-read my blog post on Running shoes. Try Running barefoot on grass, turf, or sand at low speeds and short distances. This will help you retrain a proper running stride. Another technique involves breathing drills. Run only as fast as you can while breathing through your nose and out your mouth. This is what we call self limiting exercise, and is a great way to smartly increase running volume.
5) This is not a personal attack on running, rather a manifesto about learning when to appropriately incorporate running, how to do it better and smarter, and how to stay healthy in the process.
Rich Froning Training Days (WOW)
Your body’s internal clock is at war with society
EZ Strength 2.0
AMRAP 10 minutes:
6 Dumbbell Push Press
9 Toes to Bar
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Take a second and consider for a second how many different pairs of shoes you own for various types of activities. Now, also consider how often you wear each of them. You spend anywhere from 2-5+ hours every week training, it’s time to take your footwear a bit more seriously. If you think that any type of athletic shoe qualifies as a good “gym shoe” then you are mistaken. Not even getting into the realm of athletic shoes, I want to specifically discuss weightlifting shoes. Unlike a hack golfer buying expensive golf clubs and still sucking, weightlifting shoes are the rare piece of sports equipment that will have a huge impact on your performance. Wanna add 10-20+ lbs to all of your barbell lifts in a day? Go and invest in a pair of weightlifting shoes for use in the gym, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. The solid, raised wooden or plastic heel provides a very stable, non-compressible base on which to lift from. Also, unlike your old running shoes, you will never wear out or need to replace these shoes.
Check out RogueFitness.com or AgainFaster.com for some quality options, or talk to me at the gym next time you come in for class.
Your Cardio Makes No Sense
Grilled Chicken with Walnut Pesto Sauce and Warm Arugula Salad
Stop Using Cavemen as an Excuse for Your Fad Diet
EZ Strength 2.0
On the Minute for 12 minutes:
2 Power Snatches
I want to let you in on a dirty little secret of the footwear industry- modern high-tech, air bubble, super cushioned, shock absorbing running shoes and cross trainers cause injuries, not prevent them. Wearing big padded sneakers causes the muscles and connective tissue of the foot to atrophy and lose their responsiveness. The most responsive, high-tech shoes ever created are your feet. We are meant to run on the balls of our feet, which allow the foot to act as a natural shock absorber. The large heels of today’s running shoes make running on the ball of the foot all but impossible, causing us to heel strike when we run, placing a great deal of torque and stress on our lower body joints. This is the equivalent of driving your car with the emergency brake on, except when your brakes wear out you’re looking at osteoarthritis in your knees, patella- femoral issues, potential knee and/or hip replacement, low back pain, and the list goes on.
Now, don’t take this as a recommendation to become a modern day hobbit. Rather, consider this a request to embrace the minimalist shoe, such as the ones suggested below. You will attain many of the benefits of going barefoot, while protecting your feet from the hazards of the concrete jungle*.
Here are the best options-
Here’s what I want you to try – wear these as your everyday sneakers, as well as at the gym. Occasionally try working out barefoot when indoors. Those sore muscles on the back of your leg? That’s your gastrocnemius and soleus. They are going to be sore, and you’re going to sit on the floor, prop your leg on top of a lacrosse ball, and roll around until they feel better. You can thank me later when you discover the newfound proprioception in your feet, strength in your arches, tendons, and ligaments, and a reduction in joint pain when running.
If you want to learn more about the rationale behind these recommendations, check out Born to Run, and Barefoot in Boston.
*Disclaimer – If you have a history of lower leg stress fractures, plantar-fasciitis, or extremely high arches, it is probably best to avoid going barefoot entirely, but a gradual switch to a minimalist shoe should still be beneficial