Let me make this disclaimer: I'm not anti-running however; I am an advocate that running isn't the best form of exercise for everyone. Just the same as gymnastics, boxing, sword fighting, wrestling, tennis, and power lifting aren't the best forms of exercise for everyone.
Here is my point -- there is no single exercise modality that is the best for everyone.
For some reason everyone thinks that it is OK for anyone to go running in an effort to improve their health. This is simply not an appropriate recommendation. Running is not the BEST form of exercise. It is simply a form of exercise and one that requires preliminary strength and mobility prior to starting.
I hear all the voices out there, "we were designed to run, our bodies were built for it." Sure we were. I agree.
We were also built to store as much fat as possible, swim underwater, and withstand extreme temperatures. That doesn't mean any of these things are good for us in excess, or that we handle them well if we do not prepare our bodies for these demands first.
Running is a demanding, technical and highly skilled activity. If you do it improperly you will hurt yourself, just as you would with any other physically demanding endeavor. Yet, for some reason everyone thinks they can just go ahead and start running.
If you don't believe me ask someone who is a runner which injuries they are currently working with -- it's usually a long list.
So when it comes to exercise we ask our members: what is your goal? You need to start with this question when choosing an activity or you are running in circles (pun intended!).
When we ask this question at my studio, most respond with answers including: decreasing body fat, improving cardiovascular health, improving strength and showing muscle definition.
Back to the program with running -- it is not at the top of the list to accomplish any of those goals.
Running is not the best exercise selection to drop fat, improve cardiovascular health, and it won't maximize your muscle definition. I am not going to go through the lists of research citations but if you don't believe me I have them -- hundreds of them.
If you are new to exercise or it has been a long time since you have exercised then running is a terrible way to start. Let me put it to you this way, would you start an exercise program by doing plyometrics or highly demanding gymnastics? Why do I ask? Because when you long distance run you are doing thousands of high impact plyometric repetitions. I would be called crazy if I made you do a 500-1000 squat jumps during an introductory training session, but it would be no more crazy then going for an hour jog and doing 500-1000 foot strikes.
So what is running good for? It is good for people who want to run. If you love running go run BUT train to run. The running schedules handed out to people via retail stores are terrible. No wonder there are so many injuries amongst runners. Sorry, your body was not designed to log 50-100km a week for months on end. Go run, but make sure you are doing it properly and training properly for it.
If you only run because you think its good for you or you are trying to get a lean and defined physique, well then, stop right now, because it is not the best route to your fitness goals (and again, running pun intended!).
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