Running is a huge part of our biological makeup; it’s like walking, only faster. You know how sometimes you’ll walk and stumble for no reason? You’re doing the most natural thing a human can do and you mess it up. I mean, it’s something you’re doing every single day and you still can’t do it right. I know just yesterday I ate it getting out of my chair. Now you want to make me walk… rapidly? Because it burns fat?
That’s right. And here are 3 reasons it just doesn’t work that way.
1. You’re severely deconditioned.
How many times have you had a moment of clarity? One evening while lying in bed it hits you; you’re out of shape. You make the decision to start being active again. The quickest, easiest thing to do is to run! Everyone can run. That’s what we do. We run. So you get a little antsy and wake up early to start the next chapter in your life; the new and improved Bobby. Fit Bobby. Captain Bobby Fit. General Bobby Six-Pack. Bobby, Super-Runner. So you lace on your shoes, put on your tunes, and head out the door. Here’s a “run-down” (pun intended) of this first jog.
· I feel pretty good. That bad knee’s feeling okay, let’s keep that under control. Man, that first minute was refreshing. I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this since I stopped.
· Woah, my ankles are really tight. When did that happen? Oh well, it’s what happens. I’m running.
· Damn that burns. My back’s aching. When was the last time I ran?
· Seriously, calves are burning.
· Is this what it feels like to die?
· I didn’t die yet? Why am I still going?
· My whole body feels like it’s going through a cheese grater in hell.
· Did I say cheese grater? I mean garbage compactor. On fire. In hell.
If this has been you, don’t worry; we’ve all been there. Running isn’t nearly as easy as people assume it is. There are so many factors involved that one little misstep, and repeating that misstep, can sideline you. Running is absolutely not easy. And unless you’re doing it frequently enough to make it easy, it will stay hard. So now in your pursuit to get in better shape and lose fat, you’ve only begun to recognize how challenging that will be. You’ve already concluded that you originally stopped running because it’s hard, and now you’ve convinced yourself again that maybe you don’t need it. Besides, your ankles ache now and you can’t run! This is a huge motivational impedance, and usually convinces people to quit. This shows us,
2. Your mechanics are injuring you.
Again, running isn’t easy. We’re not children anymore. We also seem to forget they’re made out of candy and rubber and can fall off a house and laugh about it. So please, don’t get nostalgic and say, “When I was younger, I could,” because guess what? You’re not younger and you’re not made out of Doritos and raging hormones anymore.
To run properly, you have to understand the biomechanics of running to efficiently consider yourself a “runner.” There are intensity techniques to help you scale up to longer runs. There are certain ways to eat to maximize energy use while running. And yes, there is “running form.” Everyone’s is going to be slightly different of course, but just picking your feet up and moving faster is the first way to get injured faster.
Proper shoes are a start. After this, recognizing physical deficiencies for running is a great secondary analysis; are your ankles too tight? Do your quads overpower your hamstrings? Is your calf endurance fairly short? Is your core deconditioned? Do you have neck tightness? All of these things can influence how efficiently you run. And we haven’t even assessed running mechanics yet!
So instead of me writing an essay on the finer points of running, check out 5 Common Running Mistakes:
Since I know you just read all of that, we’ll assume you’re now an incredible runner. You’re so good you can run for miles without stopping. I mean, you’re so incredibly efficient that running now is almost like walking to you, and just about as challenging. This means,
3. It can get too easy.
Besides the inefficiencies of running, you’ve researched and trained and now you’re so good at running now that it’s not difficult. You’re still trying to lose fat of course, but you’re also a fantastic runner. It takes 45 minutes of running before your heartrate really get anywhere near 140 or 150 bpm. This means you’re an extremely efficient machine. If you were a hunter and had to chase down your prey, you’d probably win without breaking a sweat. This in itself is amazing.
The problem? You’re too efficient. One of the most effective ways to burn fat is spiking your heart rate real high. Once it’s spiked, you can let it begin dipping down a little. While you’re in that “zone,” your calorie expenditure is much higher (energy usage). This is your target fat-burning range.
Even if you’re in amazing cardiovascular shape, you still need to be able to spike your heartrate and efficiently use energy to burn fat. The whole goal of long-distance running is to use less energy so you can last longer (which is why your heart rate doesn’t spike too high for most of your run.) The goal of burning fat is to use more energy. How many “skinny-fat” people do you see that can run circles around you? That should be answer enough.
If you’re a competitive runner, running enthusiast, or just Bobby trying to run, take heart; I respect you. I know if I decided to pick my feet up and try to run for 3 miles continuously, I might not be able to do it. That’s an impressive feat as it is. Congratulations.
If you’re running with the goal to compete in a marathon, kudos to you. Forget almost everything I’ve said and become an efficient machine. However, If you’re running with the goal to burn fat, I would consider smarter heart-rate spiking activities that have less wear-and-tear on your joints and connective tissues.