Is Running an Entry Level Exercise?

I first want to begin this blog post by stating that this contains mostly my opinion about running. I hope to back my opinion with my own personal experiences of dealing with runners and the issues they face. It is also my opinion that distance running sucks….I’d much rather be force to walk slowly across hot asphalt than go for a 20 minute jog. Again, my personal opinion.

But I must continue to move along. Running is not an entry-level exercise, at least not for adults.

Proper running form could be considered an engrained movement pattern but our lifestyles have robbed us of that. Watch a 4 or 5 year old kid. They run effortlessly and constantly and you rarely hear them complain about overuse injuries. That is because they have the the required mobility and stability to run properly and efficiently. Our sedentary lifestyle has stolen this from most of us.

Pounding the Pavement to Injury

We have all known that person…they tell you they are going to get into shape. “Oh, I know. I’ll start running!

Two weeks later their journey to 6 pack abs has come to a screeching hault. They are hurt, many of them complaining of lower leg, knee, or hip pain.

To put it bluntly, they were not ready for running.

You Need To Be Strong To Run

In a recent Facebook post personal trainer Meghan Callaway wrote,

“Running doesn’t make you strong. You need to be strong to run.”

Mind blown….

Running is a high impact activity, in fact it has been shown that forces of up to three times your body weight can be exerted on the human foot while running. So imagine a 200 pound man…that’s 600 pounds of force. You need to be pretty strong to handle that kind of load.

Add in the repetitive nature of running and it is a recipe for injury.

Most people who start running do not have the requisite levels of strength to run safely. They also lack the necessary mobility, especially in the hips and ankles to run efficiently.

Get Strong to Run

My recommendation to most people who want to get in shape by running…delay the running and start with a full body strengthening program. You will be much better off in the long run.

I see more overuse injuries in my practice as an athletic trainer in high school freshmen who start cross country as their first athletic endeavor. In fact…it is my experience that they have a higher injury rate than their freshmen football counter parts.

The same could be said for adults, especially those who use running as their entry into trying to get fit.

I applaud both grounds for stepping out to try to compete or to get fit, but they may be better off in the long run if they began their running career with a strength program.

How Strength Helps Running

I wrote an article about why and how strength training can help runners but I will give you two reasons. Both of these could fall under the category of increased efficiency, which is the ultimate goal in running and trying to run fast.

More Resilient

I’ve said it before, a stronger athlete is a more resilient athlete. A stronger athlete is able to handle higher loads, therefore making injury less likely.

Better Postures and Positions

In my article I mention earlier, I go into greater detail about how specifically strength training can help an athlete maintain better postures and achieve stronger positions.

Most overuse injuries like shin splints and anterior knee pain are due to poor positions and poor posture. When you fall into poor alignment, your muscles must work harder to achieve the task you are demanding of it.

In Conclusion….

Running sucks…but if you want to implement it into your fitness program then by all means go for it. But do yourself a favor and make sure you have prepared your body for it. Strive for a level of strength that will help make your running journey more enjoyable.