Let me ask you something – why do you do run? Isn’t it bad for you?
Aren’t you going to wear out your knees? I’ve had personal fitness coaches tell
me running is a terrible exercise for getting in shape. Can these things be true?
Do people actually wear out their knees? Is running really a bad exercise for
getting into shape?
What if I told you it doesn’t have to be like that? There is a way to run,
maybe even to increase your volume (volume = amount of time) and be healthier
and feel better and even run and race fast. Sounds too good to be true! Am I
saying there is a magic shoe or magic stretch or exercise you can do to achieve
this? No. Those things do not exist. Sure, shoes help. But the job of a shoe is to
make your run more comfortable. I sell running shoes and I’m going to tell you
there is not a medical study anywhere that says shoes prevent injuries.
I’ll talk about shoes a lot in this blog. I love running shoes – I’ve been selling
them since 1983. I hate to admit that. I cannot be that old! Here is what a
lifetime of selling shoes has taught me: the right shoe helps. The wrong shoe can
cause problems. How do you know which is which? I do not believe you should
buy your shoes online or in a big store. Running shoes can be complicated.
Running can be complicated. Do yourself a favor – go to a local store, find
someone you trust (very important) and try on at least three different shoes. Oh,
and use “size” as a starting point. That is an arbitrary number. I promise a 9 is
not a 9 is not a 9. Also, owning more than one shoe is a positive. Having shoes
that do different things is a positive. You cannot use a hammer when you need a
screwdriver. A big bulky super-supportive shoe is not the best shoe for every day.
At the same time, a super-light minimal shoe may not be the best shoe for every
day, either. Both have a place, and I believe you should have both in your running
toolbox. Much more about this later.
So what have I learned that has me believing I can help you to run more
and have a greater chance to avoid injuries? Two words: SLOW DOWN. Good
things happen when you slow down. Less stress on your body. Less impact. Your
aerobic conditioning increases. Can we all agree that too much stress is a bad
thing? We need some stress. With no stress, we sit on the couch and turn into a
lump of human goo. I don’t think any of us want that. I don’t. So, we get up, we
move, we go for a run, we go to work, we go for a walk. All of these things cause
a certain amount of stress. If work gets too stressful that can be bad, right? That
can cause us to feel bad, get sick, break down. I think we can all agree on that. So
what happens when our run is too stressful? You know that runner – the one
who runs “hard” every time. You’ve seen them on the treadmill or at the park or
running around Shaker Lakes. You have probably been one of these runners.
What are the signs of running too hard? Heavy breathing, heavy sweating,
excessive movement (much move about this later) and feeling beat up
afterwards. C’mon, you’ve been there! No pain, no gain, right? Just Do It! If
hard is good, harder must be better! Go like hell! Push thru the pain! Which of
these mantras do you think about when you are trying to “push” that hill or those
last couple of minutes? Well, all I can tell you is no pain + no gain = too much
stress! Too much stress = injuries. Or worse – being “over-trained.” What do we
call injuries? Overuse, STRESS fractures, tendonitis, shin splints, knee pain,
plantar fasciitis – or some other persistent pain somewhere that no one seems to
be able to figure out.
I can tell you ALL of these things are caused by over-stressing and over-
training and poor recovery. Yes, running injuries can happen. Yes, running
injuries will happen. We can be very delicate animals sometimes. But why not
reduce the amount of injuries if we can? Do you know any “fast” runners who are
hurt or sick a lot? I can think of many as I write this. These people are fast – they
race fast, they train fast. And they get hurt. A lot. And not small injuries. They
get BIG injuries. They stop running for weeks or months. The body eventually
repairs itself, and they start the cycle all over again. “Got to qualify for Boston,” “I
signed up for the race, I’m going to run it anyway,” “it’s not too bad, I can run
through it…” I should have gone into sports medicine! It has great job security –
plenty of over-trained athletes out there to pay for that trip or that expensive car.
Do you know these athletes? Are you one of them? I’ve been there.
Probably most of my running career, and I’m at almost 40 years of running! Train
hard for about 6-10 weeks. Run a couple good races, then either get an injury or
have the race performance fall apart. This is when running “sucks.” This when
it’s work and not fun. Shouldn’t running be fun? Isn’t that why we do it
ultimately? It’s fun to feel good. It’s great to look good, and know we are doing
something to make ourselves healthy. Running can also relieve some of the other
stress in our lives. Can we agree on this also?
So where am I going with this? I promised a way to run more, feel better
and have less chance of injury. Remember the two magic words: SLOW DOWN. I
attended a two-day course about running and fitness called HealthyFitU, led by
Dr. Mark Cucuzzella and Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you do not know these two
gentleman, Google them. Pretty amazing stuff they are doing. The course was
offered as a continuing education opportunity for doctors, physical therapists,
and personal coaches, and they also allowed non-medical people like me to
attend. There were about 40 of us in the class. I will tell you that some in that
class “got it.” And some did not accept it—they cannot give up on “no pain, no
gain.” The “it” is this: you gotta run slow to run fast. How slow? What is “slow?”
The only way to measure that is with a heart rate monitor. I’ll get into more
details in the next few blogs. I can tell you this works. Isn’t “no pain” just “no
pain?” Isn’t “no pain” a good thing? This method or ideology of training the body
is safe and effective and makes long-term HEALTH. Isn’t that really why we are
running? Yes, I want to run fast. But I can’t run fast unless I’m healthy and fit. I
can’t get healthy and fit if I’m training at too high an intensity. Are you
Just think about this: who won the race, the tortoise or the hare?