You need to run more.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but, you should likely run more. Wait, I know what you are thinking. Running is boring, it can be lonely, and honestly it is uncomfortable. All those things can absolutely be true and to add to that, most people hurt or injure themselves while running. So, why would I suggest it? Because it is a hard thing to do and it is a hard practice that involves focus and discipline to do correctly. With that said, I’m a big fan, I like hard things and you should too. Well, only of course if your growth mindset is focused and interested in being successful at things you choose to pursue.
Here is the truth. Running is one of the most natural and fundamental ways for us to move our body in space. For millions of years we used this as a form of survival, travel and simply moving anywhere. The drawback to running now is that people have truly forgotten how to do it properly. We have fancy shoes, bad mechanics and an overall deconditioned skeletal system from our lack of standing and walking, which leads to some issues with running that make it quite dreadful and even harmful. But we must do it. We should be able to run 3 miles non stop, can you? I use that as a general measure of health. When I train an athlete for the first time, if they can’t run a mile, we have a focus, if they can’t run 2 miles we have a focus and if they can’t run 3 miles we still have a focus. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying it should be fast and there is no pace suggestion, it’s simply moving through space for that distance. This is personal for me as a coach and leader so I won’t provide any studies that explain why that distance. I want my clients, family and friends to be able to flee a danger, and have the awareness on how to pace that far as well as the stamina to do so. If you have the capacity to do that it usually has some good correlations on your blood pressure, cholesterol, resting heart rate and overall capacity, not always, but mostly.
Still not interested? I don’t blame you. But you should know that running is one of the best way to maintain and create a lean physique. As you make your body travel in space against gravity it will adapt to being lighter. Our bodies are always striving for efficiency and homeostasis so the further you build your capacity to run, and faster for that matter, it will burn through body mass to make your runs easier. I know, some of you are afraid of losing your gains, well don’t be. If you simply want to look good naked and get chiseled then don’t go for 3 mile runs regularly, remember that’s just a benchmark. In fact I suggest most people don’t just go out and start putting down miles. There is a progression to becoming a runner and making it something enjoyable and a long lasting practice. As usual, there is a method to the madness.
Step one is to watch and listen to some tutorials on running. I know it seems silly but like I mentioned above, most of us run incorrectly and that creates the root for many problems.
Step two is to practice great mechanics on grass with no shoes. You can simply go to a park or your backyard and just run around for a few minutes. This will teach you posture and foot striking and start to build up some tolerance and stamina in your lower legs, feet, hips and back (all are important to running).
Step 3 is to find some quality running shoes that suit your needs. More cushion isn’t necessarily better and can be the main problem with running techniques that allow for or create the dreaded “heel strike” that can be so problematic.
Step 4 get going, run intervals and keep distances more on the shorter and faster side. This is where I suggest most athletes live and stay most of the time. Think distances from 20 yards to 400 yards with rest mixed in. This will allow your form to stay strong and also your speed relatively on the higher side. For those of you who were afraid of losing muscle gains, this is where you can train and still PROMOTE not just maintain your lean body mass! This type of training can promote new explosive power and even strength.
Step 5 add volume and distance steadily and don’t be in a rush. This journey can be a long one for many people, don’t be in a hurry to go run 3 miles at once. Don’t even be in a hurry to go run a mile at once, as most people do so incorrectly and then their running journey is short lived. Take your time, it takes time, especially if it’s been years since you’ve run. If you are battling obesity or being overweight then it takes even more care and consideration. Your joints are under a tremendous amount of pressure when running, it’s important to keep volume low while you begin your journey and keep running form as the highest priority.
Overall the beauty of running is found in its fundamentals. Practice the skill, get out in the wild on a trail, or a track, or an open field and go. You will find it not just physically beneficial but mentally too. Run intervals 1-2 times a week at least and create variety in the distances you choose as well as the rest times you allow yourself. When training in the interval format it will still build a solid base of general conditioning and stamina that will prepare you for a distance like 3 miles at once when needed. Then periodically, whatever works for you goals and capacity, add in a longer, slower run here and there. The benefits will be obvious in not just your body fat but also your overall conditioning in any other physical task. Run, it’s good for you.