I need to be honest…I am a runner.
A couple of years ago I would have laughed at the thought: today I can no longer deny it.
Previously I would have said that it is just an experiment in proving that you can be strong and still do endurance events (there is so much hype about ‘cardio’ destroying muscle and making people weak, I wanted to see if it was true.)
After training for and running 3 ultramarathons last year (and enjoying them,) I have realised how much I revel in the training, mental discipline and physical discomfort required to train and complete any running event.
At Ninth Wave Fitness, we want all our clients to be fit, strong, healthy and to enjoy the process.
For some clients, this may mean incorporating running into their training. It could be for the Boston marathon or just being able to do a few quick laps around the block – but whatever the goal, run training will be necessary.
With that in mind, some people may wonder: why don’t Ninth Wave offer running groups like some other PT businesses?
This is how Matt, the owner, summarises the reason: Running is the most underestimated physical skill; it places a high physical demand on the body and ensuring people do it well and safely so they enjoy the many benefits of running, is the responsibility of a good coach. Group running makes good coaching all but impossible.
What I have always known and what I have had to consider in my own training is that running is an activity with a lot of individuality. We are all very different shapes, sizes, and weights: at 6’ and 95 kg – I am very far from the ideal runner. An individual’s mobility and flexibility will affect their resilience and risk of injury. They will have different levels of fitness, significantly different running mechanics, and a unique history of injuries or issues that need to be considered.
Expecting everyone to benefit from and enjoy a running group would be like expecting all our clients to walk into the gym and start deadlifting 100kg.
Matt has watched local running groups passing the studio for years and has observed that in every group, to his eye, it looks like one person is having a cracking good ‘run’ and everyone else is going too fast, or too slow, or too hard for their current level!
Running can and should be a healthy and enjoyable activity, it can improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscles and bones, help to maintain bodyweight and be a big mental stress relief. It is accessible, it is relatively easy and cheap to get started, and the absolute irrefutable fact is, people like it!
What I feel people do not know, is how to be safe and productive – how to change from just going for a run, to making progress in their running and unlocking the benefits.
If you run – then every venture out onto the ‘road’ should have specific goals and outcomes.
You (or ideally a coach) should be thinking about and planning every session. I consider running pace, my heart rate, my cadence, the total distance as well as the vertical aspect of a run, which allows me to get the most out of my training.
Unfortunately, trying to create a running group where all these factors could be considered and catered for would be near impossible.
My recommendation would be to run based on your own goals and training requirements and in many cases – those runs will be most effective if you do them on your own.
Having said that, I completely understand and appreciate that there are some instances when running in groups could be beneficial.
Groups can be a great way of being social and spending time with friends and like-minded individual. Participating in a social (often easy paced) run can be a great way of interacting with people in a healthy and constructive manner (unless you are in to hashing – where you run from pub to pub!).
High performing athletes may run in groups at specific times within their training calendar, but when they do, athletes will have the same training goal and be very closely matched in fitness and running experience.
The last reason for running in groups would be if you get enjoyment and it helps relieve stress. There are lots of people who claim they feel running helps reduce stress, helps them relax and allows them to think freely. Those are excellent outcomes – but quite different from the physical benefits most people associate with doing exercise.
I love running. I hope you can see that this article is all about getting more people to enjoy it, benefit from it, and improve safely. It certainly shouldn’t put anyone off.
At Ninth Wave, our coaches want clients to be fit, healthy and athletic: if running helps clients achieve those goals…then great. As professional coaches, we also want you to get the most out of your time, train in an effective way, stay injury free and enjoy the process.
If you want to achieve more from your running, perhaps it is time you had some help. Oh and by the way – after 1000’s of KM’s and over 2 years of running – I can say with certainty that cardio, running, and steady state training does not make you lose muscle or make you weak. What does make you weak? Well, that is another article ..
Head Strength (and running) Coach