Recently I started running because next year I will be taking on a charity adventure. More to come in the new year of the adventure but what i can say is that it involves running. Now to be clear love and hate are strong words, I would change them to enjoy and frustrated.
I used to say I hate or am frustrated by running for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a common theme that occurs during a consultation for personal training. When in a consultation we will discuss many things but for the purpose of this post we will highlight two topics. Previous Training and Past and Present Injuries. The common theme would go as follows:
‘I have arthritic knees/ I have meniscus cartilage tears/ I have no cartilage/ I have no ACL… knee injury, knee injury, ankle issues’ something along those lines.
‘I used to run a lot, I have ran a marathon or two, I ran a few 10k’s etc.’
‘Did you do any strength training alongside your running?’
‘Did you wear big cushioned shoes?’
‘Did anyone ever teach you how to run?’
‘No - well this guy at the shop…’
‘So not really then.’
Notice here no one ever teaches you how to run or even walk, you just observe, learn and do and from the day you start to walk and run no one has ever taught you differently, who is to say what you observed before the age of 2 is going to be picture perfect. (Although if you want to learn how to squat infants are amazing at it!).
Really it is not running that I am frustrated by and to some extent not even the individual who has been hurt by it, yes they have responsibility to identify that the pain in their knee isn’t good and something is wrong but I don’t expect them to know what. But they are responsible for seeking help.
I suppose I cannot be too frustrated by the individual and professionals back in the day because the information we have attained from then until now is far more advanced, they may have been misinformed that big cushioned shoes and a heel pad and shoe lift were exactly what you need. These things may mask the pain but they don’t solve the root issue, by the way the root issue is probably how you run.
Additionally to that strength and conditioning is an essential part of any sport in the world these days, bodybuilding, rugby, football, long distance running will all be aided by S&C. The idea of anyone but a powerlifter or bodybuilder stepping into a gym 20 years ago wasn’t even a thought.
Today we are much better equipped for effective running, we have become aware that our foot is a better design than any shoe will be for running, we know that strength and conditioning will help to protect our joints from injury and increase the efficiency of our technique and we are becoming aware that actually just getting out and running may be a good start but you need to be coached on how to run safely and effectively.
This is the main reason I am frustrated by running is because it can be a fantastic way to aid body fat reduction, increase cardiovascular endurance, reduce the risk of heart disease to name just a few benefits but this can all be at the jeopardy of your body if your technique is poor, the thousands if not millions of steps taken just slightly in the wrong way year after year could have a detrimental effect on you. Yes you may reduce your unhealthy body weight and improve the health of your heart, just make sure you take the time to learn how to run again and strength train so that you knees arent battered at the age of 45.
Enough of my negativity. Now onto why I enjoy or take delight and pleasure in running. As I stated at the start I have only really just started running, in fact I am about to go out for training run #8 after finishing this post. To make this much easier to write and consume I will split it into the two main reasons I enjoy running.
I have more energy -
Before I started this training I thought to myself ‘This is going to kill me’ but due to having a good training plan and a solid baseline of fitness I haven’t been completely hanging out my rear end and have actually found myself feeling more energised and full of beans.
I haven’t done much if any cardiovascular fitness training for the past 12 months with a focus on strength, this affected my sports performance and increase in injury when playing sport too because as i became more fatigued i was more prone to injury, although I must say the amount of strength training practiced did reduce the severity of any injury suffered. Now that the cardiovascular fitness has increased dramatically Sports performance has vastly improved and 90 minutes of football has become a lot more bearable. I know that is all obvious but I had been kidding myself (even though i knew the truth) that my baseline of fitness will get me through or I will get fitter as i play.
I struggle to fully describe it but I feel more productive I feel happier and I feel more energised through the day. One important thing to note here is that Calorie and Macronutrient consumption is being tracked and adhered to. If I was to not eat enough on running days then I can assure you my energetic nature would vastly reduce. So make sure you are tracking and consuming enough calories, if you are trying to reduce weight make sure your calorie deficit isn’t so large that it would be detrimental to your energy levels and health.
Headspace and Nature -
Luckily i get to spend time to myself, I say luckily because I believe we should all be comfortable on our own, we should all be able to stop and take time to converse with our own thoughts. Running provides that opportunity. Personally at them moment I don’t listen to music when I run because I enjoy analysing the thought processing going through my head, whether it is my Cato pushing me forward up a tough hill, drifting off with business ideas on an easy flat section or just taking in the humbling moment on top of a hill looking over the countryside. This is all time spent in conversation with yourself, not like a crazy man running up a hill talking to himself but pretty much doing that in your own head.
There is something I find very levelling about running outdoors. Its a chance for us to step outside of the 100mph life we live and be in nature just running with one task of getting to the end and enjoying the moment. I wouldn’t call it escapism more chance to make sense of things and reset. Often we get so caught up in this small bubble we create for ourselves that we forget how small we really are in the grand scheme of things. To step back and provide that opportunity to enjoy living in the moment provides me with happiness and a feeling of contentment.
These two positive reasons will give enough reasoning for anyone to take up running, yes the first time you go out can be pretty horrible but i assure you it gets better. My advice to anyone thinking of taking up running I would say to start off small, just go out for a couple of kilometers, walk and run if you feel you have to, and from that point on reduce the amount you walk bit by bit, then increase the distance a kilometer a week and before you know it your cover 10km with ease and feeling great about it.
The last three important thing is to learn or be taught how to run correctly to reduce any risk of current or future injury. Make sure you are taking part in resistance training to help protect your joints and improve your movement pattern.
I am on the barefoot or minimalist shoe train. Your foot is designed for effective and safe running so use it. You may have injuries at present that you feel will prevent you running in such shoes but they are often exactly what you need. However a change in shoe isn’t going to cut it, when you do change you will have to change how you run, it is almost like a hard reset but totally worth it when you are running pain free effectively and safely.