Are you a runner? If you are, can you remember how you felt on your first run? If you aren't, what stops you from doing it? There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to health and fitness, which is why it's important to understand the ins and outs of different training methods and choose the one that is best for you.
At Team Howell we focus on strength training and aim to provide our clients with the best possible service when it comes to achieving their fitness goals.
Running is one of those fitness myths that we highlight to our clients often, because it's not the magic pill for all type of exercise goals than many celebs and the industry makes it out to be. Don't get me wrong, if running is the only thing that gets you out of the couch, crack on. However I urge you to learn the technique and training methods well to prevent injuries and understand the risks.
Over the years, too much emphasis has been placed on endurance sports and not enough on strength and flexibility. Because of this, many people who want to get into fitness think that they have to go running, struggle and then quit before they can really get going.
We collected 5 reasons why you shouldn't be running that can help you stop feeling guilty if you, like us, prefer to choose other type of workouts.
1. Running Won’t Make You Stronger
In terms of adaptation, running is great because it doesn’t require strength, it just requires speed. This means that you can be thin as a rake with very little muscle mass and still escape. On the other hand if you are a runner and willing to improve your performance, running alone won't make a significant difference.
You will need to work on strength and power to become better at running. That type of gym work will also improve your overall fitness and condition your heart to perform better under more stress. Not the other way around.
2. Running Won’t Retain Muscle Mass
As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass as our hormones change. We also tend to become less active, especially in terms of weight-bearing exercises. By focusing on an activity like running, which falsely assumes that cardio is the best kind of exercise for a healthy heart, we do our bodies a disservice by allowing the drop in muscle mass at a time when it is much harder to put it back on.
Unfortunately, running will not help you build muscle, in fact, you could end up losing muscle to fuel your muscles during your run. This is because your body is adapting to extended cardiac stress and once it runs out of glucose from the food you had in the hours prior to your session, it will get it from where it's easiest, your muscles. This applies to any endurance type of session if it lasts too long.
3. More Cardio is Not Always Better for Your Heart
When you run, you raise your heart rate which is good for a while. But there is a misguided belief that running more and raising your heart rate more is better. This isn’t necessarily true.
Your body has three energy system. Which one it's using to fuel your activities at any point depends on a few factors: length and intensity of the session and what's easily available all dictated by your heart rate. Endurance activities challenge only two of those at best, depending on how fast and for how long you run.
You can challenge all three of them with strength training so long you learn how to structure your session to hit all three. Our clients benefit from 1-2-1 coaching sessions when joining Team Howell where we cover all these bases.
Why is that important? Because you can only achieve an overall improved fitness if you challenge and improve all three systems. Think of bodybuilders who struggle on a very short run or any endurance athlete who can hardly carry a fully packed shopping bag for two long.
4. Running Increases Injury Risks
Research suggests that while ultramarathon runners may be healthier than the rest of the population, they also tend to have more problems with their knees and other joints, suffer from stress fractures and are more likely to develop asthma and allergies.
There’s no surprise that there is a whole branch of medicine dedicated to sports injuries. Many hobby runners struggle with their joints and ligaments because they are using and abusing their bodies while they run.
Often this is a case of not wearing the right trainers, running on an uneven surface, not having the joint strength to support running or simply not using correct technique. A better idea would be to do some weight training to strengthen those muscles to provide the support you need if running s definitely something you'd like to pursue.
5. Running is less efficient in improving Bone Density
As we get older, most people’s bones get more brittle and are more likely to break in the event of an accident. But this doesn’t have to be the case. The recommendation for the elderly is to engage in weight-bearing activities and they often bring up running as an example. While our body needs to deal with your body mass while running and it will have some benefits on your bones, but strength training is proven to be more efficient and has plenty of other health benefits.
If you create a balanced workout regime, there’s no reason that you can’t do some cardio with some weight training. But remember, running won’t do everything. Feel free to get in touch if you need guidance on how to create your exercise routine.