Lots of people have asked me this question over the years. However, it is not the most popular question I am asked. By far, the most often asked question is:
WHAT IS THE BEST EXERCISE FOR ME?…… Wow, this is a huge question to answer and many factors must be taken into consideration in order to give the best advise in any given situation.
So, before I attempt to give my personal views on running, let me lay out in an easy to follow format, my top ten tip as to what anyone should be looking for in any exercise regime or sport they intend to pursue or are currently taking part in.
10 TEN TIPS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING YOUR EXERCISE PROGRAMME:
- THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO ACHIEVE? Do I want fitness, or strength, or mobility, or just fun. Do I want to improve, or maintain. Do I want to lose weight. Do I want to gain weight.
- CHOOSE A ROUTINE WHICH IS SUSTAINABLE. Will I enjoy it, will it be balanced and not too difficult. Have I the time, am I motivated, am I ready.
- CONSIDER THE POTENTIAL FOR INJURY? Do I have a history of injury, do certain exercises cause me problems. Am I the right build to get the most out of the exercise. Do I have an imbalance in my skeletal system (like one leg slightly longer than the other, or do I pronate or supinate etc)
- REMAIN OPEN MINDED ABOUT CHANGE: Will I listen to advice. Will I adapt my plan when my body is struggling. Will I listen to my body if I get injured.
- FOCUS ON BALANCING THE FUN ELEMENT WITH THE RESULTS: Do I need to vary my exercise more. Do I need to focus on the results more. Do I need to combine these thought processes.
- TALK TO PEOPLE WHO ARE ACHIEVING WHAT YOU ARE AIMING FOR: Really get around people, be inspired by their results. Pick their brains, see if they have the same challenges as you. Learn from them and avoid making the same mistakes.
- MAKE TRAINING NOTES FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: Make notes on what you enjoy, what you do not enjoy. Record what gets you results, what really works. Record when you get injured, how you recover and make notes of achievements that you are proud of. Consider keeping a training diary.
- KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR: Make sure you communicate your results and injuries. Develop that good working relationship so your instructor learns more about you and how they can best help you achieve your results.
- TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT HOW RECOVERY AFFECTS EVERYONE: There are some articles and information available from Jo that really explain the importance of recovery weeks.
- CONSIDER HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS TO YOU: If you truly want results, you must be brutally selfish. Let nothing and no one alter your determination. A sustained 12 week plan, repeated 4 times in 1 year will get you fantastic results. If this does not happen, it is down to you, no one else. Own it, deal with it and just do it.
If you carefully follow all my top ten tips, you should end up with a very balanced and affective programme which is designed specifically for you to optimise results.
So, to my thoughts on running! Here goes:
For a small number of people, running is a fantastic resource in which a person can express themselves and achieve great targets. For this small percentage of people, it meets all the above criteria. These people have a real purpose for running, they consider that all the challenges of running are worth it, even the injuries which will invariably occur.
But, and its the biggest but I can express: for most people, running will be the beginning of the end! It is the wrong choice for loads or reasons, all of which, in one shape or another link into the top ten tips above.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. There is nothing wrong with INCLUDING running in your 12 week plan. Use it to warm up, or intervals, or warm down. Mix it with other cardio options.
What I am talking about, are the people, who for some reason beyond my understanding, choose to totally commit to a training regime which includes nothing but running. For many of these well meaning people, here is a list of reasons why, for them, it will prove a disaster:
- They are carrying too much weight or heavily set
- They become obsessive about their running
- They increase their mileage too quickly
- They do too much running on tarmac roads with a camber (shocking for the joints)
- They do not allow sufficient recovery times
- They ignore niggles and injuries
- They do not or will not invest in decent trainers suitable for their foot fall and body weight
- It is not the most affective way to lose weight and does not tone muscle effectively
- The majority of runners cannot run fast enough or long enough to lose the required weight
The list goes on and on. Trust me though, I do get it. I Know why people want to do it. They like the feel of it, it freedom in the countryside or it satisfies some primeval need to chase. But, used on its own and obsessively, it ends in tears.
If, after reading this article, someone still wants to run, then please, please please, get the correct advise and really look after yourselves and prevent making the mistakes most runners make.
Having said all of this, its important to link all that I have said into your own 12 week plan. Create challenges, create fun, create changes and exciting new exercises, but most of all, ensure your plan is safe, sustainable and within your ability to achieve great results.
In one of my previous articles I talked about the correct amount of intensity, duration and recovery. For our members who are of an age to remember TYPEWRITERS! think about this following thought:
If you type every day for several hours over several years, you will inevitably end up with RSI (repetitive strain injury). When you think about it, most running injuries are RSI related problems. its not the running or the typing that is the problem, Its the abuse to the body caused by repeating the same movement over and over again that is the problem.
So, vary your training, vary your intensity and duration and most of all:
Cross train. Its a great way to get fit, toned, strengthen joints and increases mobility whist remaining injury free.
Phew, I feel a lot better for getting all that of my chest. Hope it proves useful and gets through to the incredibly stubborn thought processes of obsessive runners.
Here ends the sermon! Take care and catch you all next month