Wednesday, July 9, 2014

There Is Nothing Wrong With Jogging

A whole lot of people genuinely enjoy running.
There is nothing wrong with jogging, walking, biking, swimming, doing yoga or any of the other things that people enjoy.  The human body is capable of a lot of things and most sports involve a good amount of endurance based training.  However, jogging and running have lately gotten a bit of a bad rap.  There are some people who say a few miles here and there are okay as long as you are lifting heavy and those who say that one should only ever do short sprints and others who say that running is completely unnecessary and will give you osteoporosis, arthritis, adrenal fatigue, and kill you before your time.

So what is the actual truth?

Running, for many people, is a fun activity that is good for stress relief, cardiovascular exercise, lower body strength, and a good way to get outdoors.  Fresh air is good for you, sunshine is good for you, and guess what?  I’ve never met a runner who didn’t have at least a bodyweight squat no matter how “frail” they might look.  All that running builds strength in the legs and running is WAY better than sitting on the couch.  And in terms of conditioning, put a runner through any conditioning circuit and they will grind themselves into paste.  There is no off switch.  If you feel your gym based conditioning is lacking, try taking up some long steady distance running for a few months, that’s the missing link.  This cardiovascular base sticks around for a while and eventually erodes so it is good to drink from the running well occasionally. 
    
I do both, its fun.  If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it. 
People who rely on running only for fitness over long periods of time may experience joint pain, postural deviations, and injuries.  Of course, they also might not.  Some people are just more resilient than others.  But for the ones that do, this is because most people cannot live on running alone.  Full body strength training is necessary to keep the full body healthy and strong; however, the degree of strength training that a recreational jogger needs to feel good is not necessarily powerlifting or Olympic lifting.  Bodyweight work and light resistance works just fine.  So the point being made here is that running is not bad, but avoiding strength training is not good.  So, do both, problem solved.

The reason most joggers jog is because they don’t feel like running as though they just hit a hornet’s nest with a rock.  Got it?   They don’t want to run faster.  And that is okay.  Yes, if they wanted to run faster for longer distances, they should include some intervals and sprint training, but the key question here is:  Do they want to run faster?  Maybe they just enjoy the process.  Everyone needs something in their life that they enjoy, let them enjoy it.  No need to judge.  If anyone told me I needed to play golf faster or paint faster, I’d wonder why they felt the need to have an opinion on that.
 
I'd rather throw stuff than run.  But its okay.
Personally, I don’t care for running or jogging.  Every once in a while, I get it into my head that I want to run a few miles and I do, but it doesn’t happen that often.  I’d prefer to walk, lift weights, and throw.  I get a good mixture of endurance, strength, and power training that way and it makes me feel good.  However, I do know quite a few people who just enjoy jogging and mix in some other strength and power work in whatever mode works best for them and that makes them feel good.

A few years ago, I trained for a Tough Mudder and had to work up to running twelve miles after forty years of never running more than three or hiking more than seven.  The run training itself was so stressful I had to stop lifting for eight weeks so that I could recover from my running sessions and keep progressing.  My gym based conditioning didn’t really translate to my running and even though I could lead and teach a 45 minute kettlebell class at the time while my students were breathing too hard to talk, trying to jog for 30 minutes just about killed me those first few weeks.  My strength served me well during that time as I never really got postural fatigue, but my legs and hips were really put to the test.  However, I have to say I enjoyed the challenge of focusing on that end goal and just putting in the work.


Everyone could use a little more Nature.  
So, yeah, jogging is no guarantee of a fitness model body, but guess what?  Neither is strength training.  In my last article, “Five exercises for your best bikini body ever”, I address this fact.  Crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  A more ideal physique (whatever form that may take) is the blend of nutrition and exercise that works best for you.  And this can take a lot of forms.  However, more ideal health, which is a much better goal, is served by a good mixture of nutrition and both endurance and strength training in a way that is not overly stressful to your body and allows you to enjoy your life.   Find ways to be strong, healthy, and enjoy your life and don’t worry so much about whether or not someone finds your way of exercising to be morally inferior.  Unless of course your particular sport is Kitten Baseball or Hand Grenade Hot Potato, because those are the things we should be outraged about.  Not jogging.