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Running is Like Substance Abuse

Running is Like Substance Abuse

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Published by Jeff Armstrong

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Published by: Jeff Armstrong on Aug 10, 2012
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08/10/2012

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Running: As Healthy as Drugs and Alcohol
 
Nothing can compare to the greatness of being able to propel oneself forward quickly with one’s own
legs. What would our favorite sports be without that ability?As a coach and competitor, I know that being a strong sprinter is key to being a competentathlete. But while sprinting
which takes place in short bursts
is encouraged, I steer people awayfrom running, which for the purposes of this article will be defined as longer distance in nature. Myofficial view on running is that you should avoid it; unless you are being chased across a widesavannah by a lion, in which case you will probably be sprinting anyway.
 
I know this viewpoint may make my runner friends uncomfortable, but hear me out while I explain
why running’s dangerous accessibility is akin to the accessibility of legalized drugs and alcohol—
andsimilarly, how it may be harming your longevity.
Iconic and demonic
 Running became popular in the late 60s when Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, published his iconicbookJogging, at about the same time Nike introduced their new running shoe, the Cortez--which was
 
actually a pretty good minimalist shoe. By the late 70s running footwear took on a chunky sole withloads of padding and the ads were inescapably appealing: The lure of perfect athleticism, a sveltesilhouette, and the ability to do it right at or from home all became too powerful to resist. Just buythese shoes and you too can become a super athlete. Easy.Similar to the Marlboro Man with his cigarettes and the Rat Pack with their drinks on the rocks, athick-soled, highly-padded running shoe became the symbol of what Americans of the day wanted tobe. So they began jogging in droves
it was as fashionable as a night at Studio 54. The trendpersists today with marathon entry numbers higher than ever before.
Running into trouble
 But alas, the road we run on is sometimes rocky. Similar to the harmful consequences of too muchpartying, negative effects from running may occur over time. The symptoms are negligible at first,
but then they become so large and distracting that you can’t ignore them anymore.
That sore hip,that aching knee, that painful arch.My fitness philosophy, and that of countless other functional fitness trainers and coaches worldwide, isbased on exercise that
improves your lifelong mobility 
. We see far too many otherwise fit peoplefalling prey to the chronic injuries caused by running. So hopping on the running bandwagon iscounter to achieving long-term mobility. This leads me to the 4 reasons I advise against running.
 
1. The danger of repetitive motion
 
While people often think of repetitive strain injuries in an office environment (carpal tunnel fromconstant typing, kinked neck from being on the phone all day), they are one of the largest sources of athletic injury. Running, cycling, and the exercise machines I abhor that fill every big-box gym in thecountry, all involve isolated movement of the skeleton using a very limited number of muscles (to theexclusion of all others), repeated hundred, thousands and eventually millions of times over and overagain.Consider this: the average runner will take 800-1,000 strides per mile, which equates to 5,000 heel
 
strikes over the course of a 5-mile run. Add to this an impact force equal to 3-
4 times the runner’s
body weight. For a 150-pound runner, each heel strike generates about 600 pounds of pressure.
That’s about 1,500 tons of pressure during a 5
-mile run. The repetitive motion and the
impact don’t only affect the foot.
The shin, knee, thigh and hip, pelvis and trunk are alsoinfluenced. Ouch.
 
2. Relying too much on the shoe and not on proper running technique
 
Every day, people who make the decision to “get in shape” buy some running shoes and stretchy
pants and run out their door
eventually to the doctor. Everyone thinks they can run.
It’s natur
al,right? Wrong. Most kids can run with perfect mechanics, but as adults the proper motion oftenbecomes lost and taking up running out of the blue could lead to more problems than benefits. And
because of the repetitive nature of running, if you’re re
peating the motion with poor form, yourchances of injury go up dramatically.
It’s easy to see the difference between good and bad mechanics.
See for yourself in thesevideos:The good.The bad. 
 
Ironically, the very shoe that propelled the running industry forward has also been the demise of many runners. The highly padded sole encourages poor technique. Runners strike the ground too
hard (because they can’t feel how hard they are striking due to the padding).
Additionally, the
padding dulls the foot’s senses, preventing it from getting information from the g
round such as how tobalance itself and allowing it to use all the muscles in the foot for stabilization. Enter minimalistfootwear and barefoot running.Shoes notwithstanding, you cannot escape from poor form. It will eventually catch up with you: kneeproblems from striking the ground too hard, plantar fasciitis from the way in which the ground isstruck, and shin splints from relying on the wrong muscles to propel the runner forward are just a fewexamples. Resting up and eating pain relievers will only ease your pain in the short-term. Hit theroad again and the pain will return
and no doctor can help that.
 
3. Running can force the body to steal from the muscles for energy 
 
In the extreme, very long-distance runners with their lean bodies and die-hard endurance are to manythe epitome of good fitness. This misconception bothers me deeply. The reality is that many long-distance runners become overly concerned with weight gain slowing them down to the point wherethey are not consuming the nutrition they need to stay healthy, such as the protein they need toprotect their lean muscle mass.Thus, without providing adequate protein (and carbohydrates) to the body before and after running,the body will break down, or catabolize, its own lean muscle mass for energy. Sounds
counterproductive to good health, doesn’t it? This can happen with not
-so-long-distance runners aswell.
Read on…
 
4. Running takes longer to lose fat than weight training
 
If you are running for weight loss, you will find yourself on a never-ending treadmill of despair if youonly run. Consider the study where dieters were put into 3 groups
no exercise, cardio exercise only,or cardio exercise and weight training, which includes bodyweight training. They all lost around 21poun
ds, but the lifters shed 6 more pounds of fat than those who didn’t.
 
The lifters’ loss was almost
pure fat whereas the others lost fat and muscle. The muscle was catabolized as described above.
Other research on dieters who don’t lift shows that about
25% of their weight loss is catabolizedmuscle.
Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t make you look better in the mirror and
it makes you more likely to gain back what you lost. Additionally, bodies with more lean muscle masshave a higher metabolic rate and even burn calories while at rest. They are also more immune to thenegative effects of stress.

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