Summer is officially in full swing, which means we're smack dab in running season. With the great weather, everyone gets out and starts really racking up their mileage, working to prepare for that road race or Tough Mudder they most likely regret signing up for. The road race atmosphere can be fun and usually the registration money is going to a good cause, so I understand why people are encouraged to sign up and participate. However, I don’t understand why people think that running is the best form of exercise to “get fit.”
Getting “Fit” can have a different meaning to everyone. Most people associate getting fit with losing weight and obtaining that beach body, but as we get older our purpose begins to shift. We start to focus more on feeling better, moving more efficiently and improving our overall quality of life. Although long distance running is known to improve cardiovascular health, the excessive impact it has on the joints can cause pain, especially when running with improper movement patterns. The positive health benefits of running are soon masked by the discomfort and pain, and then we stop running because the goal of feeling better and moving more efficiently had not been achieved.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not telling you that running is bad, but it is not what we need if we are trying to look better, feel better and move more efficiently. To improve our overall fitness and quality of life, we need to start training functionally and learn proper progression of training to prevent injury or pain. Here are four important tips to consider when exercising that will help you improve your strength and decrease your risk of injury, so when you do decide to run those long distances your body is ready and you are fit enough to run.
1. Pick Total Body Exercises
Pick total body exercises to incorporate into your training routine. Squat, deadlifts, Pulls and Lunge movements incorporate more muscle group and larger muscles allowing you to burn more calories and challenge the body as a whole.
Once you pick the exercises, create a program. Develop an appropriate number of sets and repetitions that will challenge you. Here are a few examples of programming that can be beneficial when incorporating strength training exercises.
3x10 4x8 3x12 4x6 2x15 2x20
4. Challenge Yourself
The body is constantly adapting to your training program. Once you become comfortable with form and technique and the exercises feel easy, add some resistance. Adding weight to an exercise can be a great way to make an exercise more challenging.
Getting fit looks differently for everyone and running is a fantastic tool to find YOUR fit. Just remember, as with any fitness program, it's important to plan and structure your training to progress not regress. Hit that pavement with confidence and a plan!
Still unsure how to get started? Not sure if you trust your plan? Hey, that's what we're here for. We dig creating custom training programs for you, your specific needs, events and challenges.