Running is an essential human function but being a runner can leave you lacking in other aspects of your fitness.
If you’re a runner, you’re either one of two people: A natural born runner with impeccable gait mechanics, or a pretender who’s slogged through just enough miles to call yourself a runner, but not enough to finally break your body.
If your goal is to stay fit and healthy for the long run, prioritizing road work at sustained mid level threshold outputs for hours on end isn’t your fast track to fat-loss or body recomposition. But on the plus side, it may help you finally tap into that health insurance plan. Here’s how to make some intelligent modifications to your training if and when you’re ready to break up with running.
A Better Exercise – Incline Treadmill Walks
The intelligent movement modification for running is to… wait for it… stop running. Granted, going for a jog once or twice a month isn’t going to kill your body. But adhering to a multiple-day-a-week running schedule at moderate intensity and mid-mileage is the norm, and something that’s in need of modification if your goal is staying healthy.
Training your cardiovascular system effectively involves more options than just running. As long as the specific energy system is targeted properly through heart rates and oxygen thresholds, cardio is cardio and your body can’t discern the difference. Even if you plan on taking part in one long steady-state run a week, you can supplement in a more joint-friendly cardiovascular activity another few days a week to match your cardio output and keep your levels of conditioning up. My top recommendation is incline treadmill walks.
Don’t have access to a treadmill? Both Luminary locations have sleds you can push or pull. Sprinting against resistance bands or up hills or in the sand are other lower volume and impactful methods of conditioning that transfer to running mechanics.
More on the incline treadmill walk:
Do them 2-3 days a week, and if you’re dead-set on keeping your heart rate elevated at a sustained level, match your outputs on the runs with your systemic outputs on the walks. Just increase the speed and incline enough to reach those specific variables, minus the high impact rates associated with running.
How to Keep Running, If You Must
There’s just something about running that captivates people both physically and mentally. So if you’re not going to supplement incline walks into your cardio program a few days a week, at least vary your runs enough to avoid the stagnation and plateaus of training effects commonly associated with steady state cardio. This can be done through two different types of programming: traditional interval style runs, or sprints and Fartlek-style training:
You’re familiar with intervals, where a faster running speed is completed for a duration followed by a slower speed to tap into heart rate variability and cardiovascular response. Likewise, Fartlek runs allow the variability in heart rate, but also the challenge of constant variances of speeds, inclines, and training variables to produce a more novel training stimulus compared to a steady state run.
Start off simply with the Fartlek runs, determining a specific time or distance for the run, and listen to your body. Challenge yourself with tempo runs, slower jogs, or periods of incline running if you’re on a treadmill. Because it’s randomized, every Fartlek run will be different. When it comes to improving the orthopedic response to a highly repetitive sport or activity such as running, the more variability in gait stride, speed, and ground reaction forces, the better.
Original Content from Dr. John Rusin 12/17/15 via T-Nation Online