There is clear evidence that exercise and regular physical activity promotes life longevity, reduces the risk for pulmonary, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and is essential in the treatment for those with chronic conditions and illnesses. Exercise has also been shown to improve your cognitive function, learning and memory, quality of sleep and helps fight depression.
The Centers for Disease Control currently recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week and muscle strengthening activities two or more days per week. FACT: that’s the time it takes to watch a movie!
Get out there, find what you love. And keep at it!
What does running do for our bodies?
There is an abundance of research that demonstrates the benefits of running. Here are some of the basic physiological effects of long-term endurance training:
In other words, your heart becomes more efficient and is able to beat less each minute as a result of improved strength of contraction and increased amounts of blood pumped with each beat.
In other words, your endurance muscles become more efficient with their extraction and use of oxygen due to changes within the cells and vessels.
Running can help prevent the development of chronic conditions including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Studies have shown that moderate amounts of running per week may decrease your risk of premature death by up to 25-40% and may increase life span by 3-6 years!
With the global pandemic, more and more people are starting to take up running! But before you lace up, here are some key elements to improve your tolerance to running and reduce your risk of injury...
Biggest Rule of Thumb: Be patient! It takes time for your body to get used to endurance training.
Understanding the ‘Conversation Pace’
This is the pace you want to be at when you run for now, until you gain more experience. If you can’t speak in a full sentence, slow down!
The Benefits of Conversation Pace:
Beginners Walk/Run Program:
Make sure you can walk 30 minutes at a time before adding in running blocks!
Walk:Run ratio of 3:1
Progress to Walk:Run ratio of 2:1
Progress to Walk:Run ratio of 1:1
Progress to Walk:Run ratio of 1:2
Continue to progress in this fashion! Keep with each bullet point for at least one week prior to moving to the next.
Eventually progress to running 30 minutes straight without blocks of walking!
Try to be consistent and run 3-5x a week for the most benefit. Consistency makes all the difference!
How many miles until you are no longer considered a ‘novice runner’?
300-500 miles in a year.
Visit your local running shop (or contact them online if they’re currently closed!) for guidance on picking a pair of sneakers that may be the most comfortable for you.
Prior to starting a run program, be sure to first gain clearance from your MD!
10% Rule: When increasing your distance on a weekly basis, keep your increase between 5-10% of your previous week. For example, if running 10 miles one week, the next week you would only increase your distance by one mile and run 11 miles. Big leaps in distance can be too much, too soon. This helps to improve tolerance of the demands made on the body and reduce your chances of injury.
Training Specificity: To get better at running, you have to run! Training specificity refers to the physiological adaptions that happen to the body when training in a specific activity or sports program. To enhance your performance, you have to mimic the movement required of that activity.
Strength Training: Strength and resistance training should be an essential part of every runners’ routine. Performing resistance training can help prevent injuries, improve recovery between sessions and help to keep the muscles balanced throughout the body.
Recovery is Key: Recovery from hard training sessions is as important as the session itself. Allowing the body to rest, re-fuel and re-hydrate are critical. It allows the body to make physiological changes adequately that will ultimately make changes in performance.
Road Camber: Many streets and roads have an upwards curve in the road towards the center which allows water to drain to the edges. If you always run on one side of the road, the leg on the outside is always being asked to work in a slightly more “lengthened” position and the inside leg in a slightly more “shortened” position, which can lead to imbalances over time. To avoid this, change sides of the road as you run and try to run on the sidewalk as often as possible. Of course, safety always comes first!
Food Prep for Race Day: Plan on training and eating what you will eat on race day. If using the food or drink that’s supplied to racers on race day, find out what they are and incorporate them into your plan. Most websites will list what food or drink will be offered along the course.
Common running terms heard on the street...
Aerobic Energy: This is a type of energy production that requires oxygen. This system provides energy for long durations but takes longer to produce. You primarily use this energy system during long distance runs.
Anaerobic Energy: This is the other type of energy production but it does not utilize oxygen. This system produces energy very quickly but is limited in duration. You primarily use this energy system during sprints.
Cadence: The amount of times each foot strikes the ground in one minute. The magic number spoken about within the running community is 180 steps per minute. However, every runner is different and meeting with a PT to evaluate your running biomechanics prior to making changes to your cadence is the best strategy to determine a cadence that’s best for you.
DOMS: [Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness] Muscular discomfort and pain that you may experience following intense episodes of training or competition. The approximate peak of discomfort is between 24-72 hours after training.
Foot Strike: [Heel strike vs. Forefoot strike] The area of the foot that touches the ground during initial contact.
Running Economy: The amount of oxygen you use when running at a certain speed. The less oxygen required at a given speed, the more efficient the system becomes.
Type I Fibers: [Slow-Twitch Fibers] A type of muscle fiber with high aerobic energy supply. These fibers are more fatigue resistant and are built for endurance. However, they have limited force production and speed of contraction. These fibers are utilized more with distance running.
Type II Fibers: [Fast-Twitch Fibers] These muscle fibers are made to produce more force and contract faster. However, they have low aerobic energy supply and fatigue very quickly. These fibers are utilized more with resistance training and sprints.
VO2 Max: The maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by your cells in one minute. By improving your body’s transportation system for oxygen, the higher your VO2 max will be. This tends to be used as the measure of cardiovascular fitness.
There are numerous benefits to running alongside another runner. Some of these reasons include helping you maintain your pace, keeping you safer, helping you explore new scenery and increasing your accountability and motivation!
However, here are some tips if you go for runs with a different kind of running buddy... your furry friend or little one!!!
Running with your Dog!
Running with your Baby in a Running Stroller!
What is “Runner’s High”?
The psychological feeling of euphoria and relaxation along with a reduction of pain, discomfort and anxiety following long-distance running.
Endorphins make you happy…
For the past 40 years, it’s been believed that endorphins are the main reason for this euphoric feeling. As much as I love Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, new research is finding that endorphins may not be solely responsible for this feeling. Over the past few years, it’s been discovered that even though there are elevated endorphins circulating through the blood stream during exercise, they are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Then what causes this mental euphoria?
There are several studies and new pieces of research that propose other chemicals within the body that may cause this effect. These include, endocannabinoids, norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, which are all neurotransmitters that help stimulate happiness and reduce depression and anxiety.
So, is it Fact or Fiction?
As studies and researchers continue to investigate what truly causes this feeling, one thing is certain. Chemical changes do occur within our bodies during distance running that cause an elevated sense of well-being. This state of mind is something that many runners can swear by and keeps them going through the miles.
Run until you fly!
One of the most common questions runners ask is: “How do I pick the right running shoes?”
Some of the different kinds of running shoes...
Traditionally, the selection of shoes has been based on your static foot arch height...
Recent research has demonstrated for us that picking shoes based on your foot arch height does NOT help reduce your chances of running related injury.
THE most important factor to go by when selecting shoes is choosing WHAT IS MOST COMFORTABLE FOR YOU!
Running shops are a perfect way to help guide you to shoes that may be the most comfortable fit.
They’ll also allow you to run and test them out in the store which is essential prior to purchase! Your foot arch height may be a factor that’s considered but don’t force yourself into shoes that aren’t the most comfortable. Two of the biggest factors to help reduce injury risk is smart training methods and wearing what you’re most comfortable in!
One factor that research has started to show us that you should consider when selecting shoes is where your foot lands as you strike the ground while you run...
Tips related to running shoes...
How often should I change my shoes?
Every 250-500 miles!
How many should I own?
You want to own at least 2 pairs so you can rotate them based on the demand of each run.
What is stride length?
Stride length is defined as the distance between two successive initial contacts of the same foot. In other words, the distance between when your right foot first touches the ground to the next time your right foot first touches the ground again.
Why does it matter?
Stride length is an objective measure that one can use when analyzing a runners gait. There is no one-size-fits all perfect stride length because every runner is different!
Should you change your stride length?
There may be a stride length that can better benefit you if you’re battling a running related injury or have a history of repetitive running injuries, caused by faulty running biomechanics, such as over-striding.
The most important first step is to have your running biomechanics evaluated by a professional, such as a physical therapist with a specialty in running, to devise a course of action specifically tailored to your needs!
How would you change your stride length?
Trying to teach yourself to land “closer in towards your body” to shorten your stride length is difficult to consistently replicate because too much variation can occur with each step. To make sustainable, long-term changes to your running gait, you must allow motor learning to take place with stable and consistent feedback to let the body adapt appropriately. So, this is where cadence comes into play! Cadence is defined as how many total steps you take each minute and is inversely related to your stride length. Increasing your cadence by 5% may be sufficient enough to make changes to optimize your running gait by influencing the foot to land closer underneath the body, which ultimately shortens your stride length, without leading to compensations. Listening to the sound of a metronome to change your cadence during your runs provides you with consistent feedback with each step!