Are you a runner in Greenville SC? Running, the most popular form of exercise since the creation of mankind. Whether you are a new or seasoned runner, many of these athletes seem to ask me the same questions. If you are a runner, or considering implementing running into your exercise program, then maybe you have some of these similar questions?
Is it bad to run every day? Why or why not?
Yes, especially for the new runner or average person. With all exercise, workouts cause micro trauma of bone, muscle, and tissues. Unlike large traumas (muscle strains, bone fractures, etc.), micro trauma is actually a good thing. When micro trauma occurs, the body initiates healing in that region. This repairing leads to denser bones and stronger tissues. This is the body’s way to prepare for future micro trauma of similar loads.
Unfortunately though, when you perform the same exercise everyday (like running) the body never has a chance to heal completely before another round of micro trauma load occurs. If the intensity of micro trauma is faster than the body’s ability to heal, then the individual risks injury. Therefore, you should always workout a different region of your body every day.
For most new runners, they tend to progress their running habits very quickly due to high ambitions. This is because many new runners have a goal of being at the level of others who run every day within a few weeks; or to be ready for the 5k they spontaneously signed up for that is in one month. Yet, they don’t understand many recreational runners have already been through a running program, have achieved their level of fitness over many months of training, exercise in more ways than just running, and usually run a steady mileage or duration every time they run.
For the recreational runner who has been running and training for a longer period-of-time (6+ months), running a similar low-moderate mileage every day is fine, but still not ideal. This is because the body has already adapted to that running mileage and the microtrauma occurring is minimal, thus less recovery is needed.
I try to tell all my runners, new or seasoned: just like a healthy diet doesn’t only consist of meat, a healthy body needs variability to flourish. Run, walk, lift weights, squat, jump, etc. Don’t fall in love with any one thing. Fall in love with a variety of things.
How many days a week is a good amount to run for the AVERAGE person? What would be the mileage or duration?
For the average person, a running program is based on the individual’s goals and ability to train. I usually develop programs based on duration rather than miles, since the time to complete mileage is different for every person.
If an individual "must” run every day then they need to start with a low duration run program (5-8 minutes) that ramps up slowly every week (2 minutes). If a person wants to run 3x a week (recommended) then they can start with a longer duration run (15 minutes) due to having more days in-between for healing.
I usually recommend my “new runners” to get about 30 minutes of running in a week for the first 2 weeks, then add 15 minutes per week every 2 weeks until they reach their running goals. All running programs should include a 5 minute warm-up and a 5-minute cool-down which includes exercises to improve blood flow and flexibility. This helps prevent injuries.
Duration-based programs are typically easier to follow and modify for the new runner, since work schedules, personal life, and motivation fluctuate and are different for everyone on a day-to-day basis. Once an individual has been running for many months and wants to transition into recreational, competitive, or sport-related improvements, then I would recommend developing a mileage-based programs.
Should you incorporate strength training into your running routine? Why?
Definitely! Running is a very functional activity, so it involves many muscle groups to coordinate together for the activity. However, running is also a very repetitive exercise that does not address all the muscle groups in every plane/direction. Strength training is vital for runners to not only improve their running capabilities, but to prevent a running injury.
If a running injury occurs, this can be a large set back to their progress and goals. The most common running injuries I see are hamstring strains, calf strains, and knee/patella pain. These are all due to constant repetitive running without proper stretching or strength training. Usually I encourage strength training on the non-run days to encourage rest from the actual activity of running.
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