Running: Why You Probably Need to Do It More, or Less

If you’re a 40+ guy seeking a lifelong balance of endurance, strength and flexibility, running is one activity that’s hard to get “right” within your mix. Most of us either don’t run at all, or really like running–get addicted to it, even–and run too much.

I believe 90% of us need to either run more, or run less, than we do today.

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If you’re a 40+ guy seeking a lifelong balance of endurance, strength and flexibility, running is one activity that’s hard to get “right” within your mix.  Most of us either don’t run at all, or really like running–get addicted to it, even–and run too much.

I believe 90% of us need to either run more, or run less, than we do today.

Why we need to run (or walk/hike as an alternative)

Running is one of the greatest fitness activities.  It’s the original, primal endurance builder…it’s weight-bearing, helping maintain your bone mass and strength…it works certain leg muscles really well.

Plus, it’s a great way to mentally unplug and to be outdoors with fresh air, under sunshine or moonshine (or in the rain – it’s all good).  This “outdoors” part is critical to your sense of wholeness and joy from fitness – more on that here.

Finally, running is portable. You can do it when traveling for work or vacation.  No club pass or equipment needed, and always doable on your schedule.  Non-runners often skip workouts when they travel.  Not runners (they also get a great way to tour new places).

You might think “that’s all great, but I just can’t run anymore because of [fill-in-the-blank injury or condition].”  If that’s the reality, man, fair enough.  I get it.  Still, please read this and substitute “walking” or “hiking.”  Many of the same benefits apply, and these are even more portable and lifelong doable.

But I think many of us get running-caused injuries that lead us to quit altogether, where the problem is really just running too much and/or too often.   Running once a week for 3-5 miles, on a non-pavement surface if best…is something many of us should be able to maintain.  In future posts, I’ll talk about physical setbacks and persevering through them.

Why we need to run in moderation, and mix running with other workouts

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On the flip side, too much running is—at best—a sub-optimal way to pursue fitness.

For some, it’s worse than that – it keeps causing injuries.  Running can bring you such a sense of well-being and achievement that it often drives you to keep running further and more often, until eventually something starts to hurt.  I’m in the group that is susceptible to this.

For others–the biomechanically blessed—it might actually be worse.  Because you love running and it “loves you back,” you may have a less-than-balanced fitness approach.  Heavy-duty runners almost invariably lament a lack of flexibility.  And they usually don’t get enough all-over muscle conditioning (they certainly don’t get it from running, which doesn’t even work all your leg muscles, let alone your core, back, chest, and arms).  They might even be in the realm of “cardio over-do,” where you burn more calories than you really need to, depleting muscles, and wear yourself down over the long term.

I know, it’s extremely gratifying to keep running farther, to set personal records for times, to do well in road race age groups.  But where’s the point beyond which more and more running is not really about fitness but rather in service of other types of needs?

Brothers, I’m not knocking these types of achievement goals…I’m just asking that you get in touch with the real motivations behind your running, and figure out whether your long-term goals are better served by adding more balance into your workout mix.

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So, putting this all together, with your thriving in mind I urge you guys to either…

1. Start (or carefully return) to a modest level of running. Run slow, stretch well, and don’t be in a hurry to increase your frequency or mileage.  If you don’t already use a “recovery drink” after other cardio work, start using a post-run recovery drink to replace (healthy) carbs, as well as to replenish protein.

2. Reduce your running and pick up some other activities for strength, flexibility and impact reduction, if you’re running more than 2-3 times per week right now. Add swimming or cycling as alternate cardio.  Do more strength work (even if just taking 2-3 miles off a long run and using the time for push-ups, pull-ups and core work).  Or maybe overcome your self-imposed barriers and try yoga.

Give this a couple of months and see what you think!

“I’m older now, but still running against the wind.” (Bob Seger, Against the Wind)

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“Too Old” to Run (or Bike) Up That Hill? This Will Help You Keep Saying “Hell No.”

There are great reasons to keep fighting gravity, man.

Going up hills works different muscles than staying on the flats (and it works the same muscles harder, too). It provides natural interval training. You don’t need some trainer shouting at you “now go harder” – Mother Nature takes care of that. And not least, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and can-do power to help sustain fitness motivation as life unfolds.

But it’s not easy. As the saying goes, if it were easier, more people would be doing it. To keep you among the relative “few who climb,” here are tips for use before, during and after that hill looms up in front of you.

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High-Intensity Interval Program Reviews: Orange Theory Fitness

There’s a lot of buzz around High-Intensity Interval Training, a.k.a. “HIIT”. Research studies highlight its effectiveness and time-efficiency for fitness development and calorie burning. New HIIT-centric gym concepts are being heavily marketed.

HITT interests me because of its inherent fitness benefits, and because it often combines endurance and strength work in an intense way.

I’ve started checking out HITT gym concepts and at-home workout programs, to add HITT into my own mix and also share findings via OlderBeast. This is the first of several reviews, starting with Orange Theory Fitness (“OTF” for short here).

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Study Says Running’s the Biggest Life Extender. Give Credit to Runners’ “Architect” Fitness Approach.

This week, the NY Times cited a Cooper Institute study that found running is correlated with a higher increase in life span than any other exercise. (“An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life” – see link below).

The study’s authors acknowledge this is a “correlation” and not “causation” finding. Quick illustration of causation vs. correlation. A guy keeps finding when he sleeps with his clothes and shoes on, he wakes up with a headache. Did sleeping that way cause the headache? No, it was correlated with it (they frequently happen together), with the common root cause being tequila the night before.

My hunch is this finding is an important correlation between running and positive lifespan impact. It’s not the running itself causing incremental benefit vs. other exercise types. Other exercises or mixes thereof can provide the same physical and mind-body benefits. It’s that, critically, runners are likely to have an “Architect” view of their own fitness, and associated sustainable behavior patterns. These are the causative factors behind maximum exercise impact.

3 Comments
  1. […] these part of your life, too? I hope so, brother. If not, you can and in fact should experience […]

  2. […] these part of your life, too? I hope so, brother. If not, you can and in fact should experience […]

  3. […] is true of running and High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT) — each of which has an “overdo” risk […]

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