Unless it’s for that new matchy saddle blanket set being delivered RIGHT NOW!
If you don’t like to run, take your joggers off and don’t do it.
There seems to be this culture of running being an integral part of fitness and ‘getting fit’. We see the Nike adds of happy, slim women running with their freshly blow-waved hair, and as a society place value on how many kilometers you can run is the achievement. Like it matters? Yes, it certainly has some health benefits but only if you like to run.
There is research circulating around the fitness industry that if you run on a regular basis, your body adjusts to this activity and responds for survival by slowing your metabolism to conserve energy. Studies both clinical and observational have published some compelling research that too much cardio can impair the production of the T3 thyroid hormone and negatively affect the metabolism. Our metabolism is the powerhouse of our body, it sets the amount of energy our body uses to function. I’ll take this research seriously as I don’t need anything else slowing down how much fuel my body needs. I love food, in fact, who doesn’t?
According to Chris Kresser, author and Integrative Medicine Practitioner, “Certain high-intensity exercise routines may push the body’s stress response too far, leading to a cascade of biochemical responses that can cause serious damage to one’s health in both the short and long term.” Running has been shown to increase the stress hormone cortisol, leading to issues with blood sugar levels, sleep and again the metabolism. Taken your runners off yet?
Tim Ferris is known for the “minimum effective dose” concept, he said that in order for exercise to be effective, less is often more productive. Also, according to Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata 8 minutes of high-intensity intervals such as Tabata training is more beneficial than slow and steady cardio. Izumi discovered intervals to be equally if not more effective at cardiovascular conditioning and increasing metabolic rate. I’ll swap 40 minutes for 8 minutes any day. There are so many different opinions in the fitness industry and it really comes down to personal beliefs, I really do believe less is more and this research is the basis for what I practice myself and teach.
I ran for years until I damaged my pelvic floor in childbirth, this was the turning point for me when I re-evaluated how and why I trained. The MOST important reason to reconsider running is your pelvic floor health. Running on a regular basis is one of the risk factors that leads to pelvic floor damage, if you have had a baby it’s even more reason to not run if you don’t enjoy it. When running our entire body takes on the impact in a circular motion for the whole time we run. This equates to around 1000 hits in 10 minutes. The role of the pelvic floor is to cushion the impact, in each run stride the impact puts pressure on the pelvic area and over time can cause the muscles to stretch, weaken and lose their supportive ability.
Running does burn a lot of calories, but when I was running 10 plus kilometers a few times a week I was heavier! Energy loss during running will trigger a hormonal response resulting in an increased desire to eat and increased appetite. You can out-eat any workout in one meal, so next time you think you need to run or hit the long cardio sessions consider focusing 80% of your effort on nutrition instead and avoid the cravings that can come with intense exercise.
Focus 20% of your effort on training and choose something that is useful and functional to your body and goals. I challenge you to think of training as a reward for your body being so amazing. It’s about feeling positive, feeling good and a privilege that strengthens our body so we can lead an active lifestyle. AKA riding our horses.