Running – people either love it or they hate it, there’s no middle ground. If there is any exercise I hear people complain about more than anything else at my bootcamp sessions, it is running. The groans and sighs are incredible. I would say it is closely followed by burpees, but I don’t make clients do burpees as I hate them more than anything else. Yet, if I had to choose one exercise to get people fit and strip fat fast, it would be running.
I also hated running in the past. As a young man I was fit and played a lot of sport. You could say I ran a lot during these sporting pursuits, but I would never dream of going for a run for fun or fitness. If my coach said we had an 8km run I would hope the ground would open up and swallow me immediately. Why would any sane person choose to run if you weren’t chasing a ball, or someone with a ball?
All that changed when I decided to get healthy. At more than 160kgs (350+ pounds) I wanted to lose weight, get fitter and I decided that I wanted to learn to run.
Now as a non runner and a big fatty, it was bloody difficult to run. In fact I termed what I was doing as a joffle. It was a cross between a jog and a shuffle. Slowly it increased in distance as it did in pace, but it wasn’t without incident. Strained muscles, pain, suffering and some joy thrown in when I increased my distances, too quickly it turned out. What did I learn from this though?
My body was changing radically. I was losing body fat quickly. Obviously I was watching what I was eating but the increase output of running on top of my resistance training was helping me drop kilograms and centimetres fast.
My cardiovascular fitness was improving quickly. I wasn’t running very far, but I was consistent with my running and it allowed my body to adjust quicker than I expected.
I also realised that there is no cheating when you run. You have to carry your body weight and when you weigh 160kgs it is hard work. It isn’t like cycling or swimming where you can sit on a bike or allow the buoyancy to assist, with running it is all down to you.
I was warned before I started by a friend whom was a runner to be careful because running was addictive. Yeah right. Strangely enough, after a few weeks, few milestones set, few kilos dropped I was really enjoying it, even if I was running at 9pm, dressed in black long sleeve top and long pants (which must have made me look like a burglar) so nobody could see the fat bloke running around our local park. I quickly become that person that enjoyed it and was addicted.
Now when I talk to people and I hear the following excuses:
– I can’t run
– I’ve never been taught to run
– I don’t know how to breathe when I run
– Running hurts
– I’m not the right build for running
– I HATE running
My response is:
– yes you can run
– You don’t get taught, you figure it out as a kid
– Of course you can breathe or you die
– Of course it hurts, no matter how good you are it will hurt
– What does a runner look like? There is no build for a runner
Not only are there physical and psychological benefits to running but there are also enormous practical benefits for people that do not want to join a gym. You don’t need fancy equipment (although being fitted correctly for shoes is a big plus to prevent injury) and you can do it anywhere. Oh yeah and it is free, yep FREE!!! You can even do free events now like Parkrun. Check out Parkrun for your nearest one here. Also, the running community is one of the most supportive and inclusive groups of sportspeople you will ever meet.
So unless the doctor categorically states you can’t run, you have nothing to lose except a few kgs and seconds off your PB.
If I can run, you can as well. It doesn’t have to be fast, or pretty but it will be effective. Key thing to remember is that you are not going to win any Olympic medals so don’t stress about your pace. Go out and try something different, step outside your comfort zone and just see where it will take you.
Greg is the owner and run coach of Real Bodies Runners. Greg has an amazingly inspirational story and through his business has a goal to help everyone that wants to learn to run, improve their running or take on a huge new challenge to achieve it with the correct help. You can connect with Greg through his Facebook page here