YES, RUNNING IS GREAT…
Running is a cardiovascular activity, so it provides all the benefits of endurance exercise such as reducing blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, and body fat while at the same time elevating oxygen consumption and HDL cholesterol. Since it is a weight bearing activity, it also improves bone density. Running is also something that most of us can do with little effort and cost – all we need to do is lace up our shoes and open the door!
BUT IF YOU’VE GOT A SPECIFIC GOAL IN MIND, SIMPLY GOING FOR THE ODD RUN WON’T CUT IT
Dr Jinger Gottschall, Associate Professor of Kinesiology, says there are four key reasons why a training plan will help you achieve your running goals.
- A plan makes it easy, there’s less guesswork about what to do each week
- You can feel confident that you will be prepared for the race distance
- Well-planned conservative increases in distance/intensity will reduce injury risk
- You’ll stay motivated, knowing that you are able to successfully complete each week
A PLAN MADE UP OF RELENTLESS RUNNING IS ALSO NOT IDEAL
First and foremost, a training plan that features nothing but running will be mentally fatiguing – you need variety to keep your head in the game! Doing nothing but running also increases the chance of overuse injury as you are only moving in a single plane repeatedly without strengthening and stretching the muscles around the working joints.
AN INTEGRATED TRAINING PLAN FOSTERS SUPERIOR RESULTS
Gottschall explains that an integrated training plan can make greater improvements to your fitness, reduce the risk of injury, and improve adherence to training for long periods of time. She says that when it comes to improving speed and performance, building cardiovascular fitness is not the only component.
- Incorporating low weight, high repetition full body weight training (like BODYPUMP™) is an ideal way to strengthen the muscles around the joints. Even exercises like biceps curls and deadrows are helpful because your elbows are flexed during running and strong upper body posture is helpful for endurance events.
- Integrated core training (like CXWORX™) can be extremely beneficial in terms of single leg strength for symmetry, deep hip muscle training for knee alignment, and abdominal training for efficient force transmission.
- Finally, a combination of strengthening and flexibility training (like BODYBALANCE™) will reduce injury risk with exercises that will train the core and stretch the working leg muscles.