Here’s what you need to know…
The anti-running movement has gone too far when it says that running is stupid or that it will eat up all of your muscle. The weight-lifter-who-moves-like-garbage and bashes the benefits of running is becoming a tiresome cliché. Short distances like 10 to 40 meters, 40 to 100 meters, and 100 to 800 meters, in addition to hill sprints and shuttle runs, all have varying benefits ranging from increases in GH and Testosterone to increases in leg strength, coordination, and bone and soft tissue integrity. If the endurance extremists would start doing repeats of 400-800 meters at high effort, they might forget what a thruster is.
The fact that there has been a revolt against the benefits of running as a fitness modality is terrific and I am happy we are moving more towards the center. However, one thing that has gone too far is this whole idea of how running is stupid, or will somehow eat up all of your muscle. I have even heard trainers tell people that running is the worst thing you can do to stay in shape.
I mean, I am all for the execution of “jogging” in general, but to make a blanket statement that all running is worthless is extreme. There are no benefits of running? Really? Seriously? Humans are literally built for running. As far as the hierarchy of things you need to do for survival, running is right smack dab at the top of the list, next to keeping your heart beating at all times.
Here are 5 benefits of running:
- Increase in growth hormone and Testosterone production
- Increase in leg strengthen,
- Increase in coordination
- Increase in bone and soft tissue integrity
- Prevention of injuries
Now when I advocate the many benefits of running, it’s not necessarily for 26 miles, but for varying distances up to 800 meters at a time. Here is a short list of the different modalities I use and their benefits:
Super Short (10—40m)
This distance is used primarily for increases in leg strength and power and hormone production. Repeat up to 10 times with full recovery in-between, twice per week.
This distance is an extension of super short distance, which can be used for repeats (conditioning) or for building leg strength-endurance. Repeat up to 8 times with near full recovery.
This distance is an anaerobic nightmare. It will challenge your mental toughness, your legs, and your guts to not spill out of you. It has similar benefits to the shorter distances listed above but it emphasizes conditioning and anaerobic endurance over power and strength. Repeating this distance 4 to 6 times is probably plenty for most of us.
Sprinting up a hill is one of the best, and most under-utilized training tactics around. You get all the excellent benefits of running super-short distances with the added benefit of more load and less stress on the deceleration phase (where most people pull muscles and get injured while running). I use hill sprints at least once a week in my training as a complement to my other lifting and sprinting.
I believe one of the reasons we get so many knee and ankle injuries is that we do not practice simple athletic movements in a controlled environment before going full-bore into an athletic competition. Simply learning to change direction with speed and power in training can save lots of people from experiencing these injuries. To achieve additional benefits of running, here are a couple of shuttle run mainstays:
1. Lateral Shuttle 2-Step
Rapid back-and forth shuttles with one step in between direction changes. In other words, you go 2 steps to the right, then 2 to the left. This really focuses on lateral change of direction and is a great way to improve coordination and leg strength/power while building structural integrity in the lower body. If done for higher repetitions, it can also scorch your quads and your lungs.
2. Standard Forward/Backward Shuttle
Set up a few cones 5-10-15-20 yards apart. Run forward to the first cone and then run backwards to the start. Then forward to second cone, backwards to the start, etc.
The different types of sprints can be done on a rest day, before a workout (short distances only), or after a workout. There is no reason for you not to include at least two days per week where you dedicate a small chunk of time to being a predator, as the benefits of running are huge for your overall health and fitness. You are missing out on those benefits if you go along with the “running is stupid” crowd.
Running is part of what makes us functional human beings and keeps us youthful as we get on in years. The deterioration of gait is one of the primary factors that can predict how long you will live, so owning your ability to run/walk is imperative for a long, healthy, life. Is being that guy who “once squatted 600lbs” with a mono-lift worth being a barely functional human being that cannot sprint or move around naturally? Completely excluding any form of running is stupid. So, go enjoy the benefits of running. Go get after it on some hill sprints and multi-directional shuttles and reap the benefits of being a more complete athlete.