January 1st. Oh January the 1st.
As I have sat on my behind over the past few days post indulgence, I have smirked at every fitness professional writing the same articles: from the pessamistic ‘why January the 1st is like any other date and how everyone is destined to fail again’ to the more optimistic how it is ‘your time to change now’, there are plenty to choose from.
Having not worked in a commercial gym setting for many years and training myself in my ‘garage gym of doom’ I have been blissfully unaware of the January go-getter crowd. In fact I had kind of forgotten they even existed….
This was up until I went out in my car earlier. I was actually to put it mildly, astonished.
Herds and herds of human beings proudly beating the pavement with their gleaming white trainers, beanie hats and brand new ipods clipped snugly to their fluorescent technical wind cheaters.
I have never ever seen so many people jogging in one moment of one hour of one day ever before.
I am not here to put a downer on people’s sudden passion for exercise, I honestly wish them luck and hope that this year they actually follow through on whatever fitness goals they have set themselves. In my mind any activity is good activity, and as someone who actively tries to promote health for a living I feel it is important to support people’s ventures whatever the scale.
There is a But…
I know what it feels like put hours of work in to get nothing back in return, I know that feeling of demotivation that many will get January the 31st and I know that deep inner sigh that most people will experience when once again they failed at their mission of body transformation.
I have written articles before on how jogging is not going to get you the body of your dreams. There are simply faster and better ways.
But people launch out of their houses with the best intentions of changing their shape, no money paid, just them, their ipod and wherever the wind takes them. Running to begin with can be quite a romantic affair and I can see that the activity has a lot of holistic benefit for the right person. For dramatic changes to body composition however, you need to understand that you are barking up the wrong tree.
Some people love running. I personally despise it. I lost a fair proportion of my weight jogging and I tell you that my memories of that combined with finishing the cross country at school each year in last place doesn’t really feel me with a passion for the sport.
My ‘but’ is: if you are going to spin your wheels with the aim of not really achieving anything at least choose an activity which is going to promote health as a by-product and not lead you to further injury.
Where this article stemmed from
When I was driving along I was actually astounded not by just the sheer number of pavement pounders, but by the absolutely atrocious technique and gait pattern they presented me with.
I know that people were not aiming to compete in 100m sprinting as they plodded down the road but there are pretty universal acceptable standards of mechanics that reduce the impact on joints and allow for decent running economy.
Knees falling in, weak hip flexion, poor foot stability, poor hip extension, poor core stability – these were just some of the issues that were presenting themselves.
Unless you have taken part in a speed school or have participated or coached athletics we are never really taught to run. Jogging and running is seen as a ‘primitive’ movement that you just sort of ‘pick up and do it’. In my opinion this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Running may have been a natural movement in Palaeolithic times, and we could probably all run pretty darn fast from a sabre toothed tiger. Fast forward to 2012, most of us spend our lives sat at desks and in cars. Most of us may resemble our Neanderthal ancestors posturally but running is certainly not a movement pattern that could be considered ‘natural’ anymore.
This is why I would never ever start any new client that came to me on a treadmill, a sprint track or the plain old pavement. Running is not one of those activities that ‘you will just get better with in time’, stride pattern and gait needs coaching and 99% of people would benefit from postural correction through strength training so they can actually fire their glutes and flex their hips appropriately to protect them from injury.
January the 31st will bring a lot of Brits not only disappointment because they have failed to reach their goals due to training incorrectly but also a high chance of overuse injury. Tighter hip flexors, weaker glutes, plantar fasciitis and shin splints just to name a few. People simply aren’t physically prepared or symmetrical/balanced enough to increase their aerobic fitness through jogging.
So what do I recommend?
- Book a consultation and come and see what Xcelerate Fitness has to offer. We provide a full analysis of your kinetic chain and have a good look into your biomechanics and movement patterns. On top of this I guarantee I can get you the shape you want without pavement pounding….and you can train in the dry!
- Use interval training over long steady state cardio, the media has drastically oversold the benefits of aerobic training. In my opinion even the most deconditioned individuals can handle correctly prescribed interval training and nearly everyone sees a drastic improvement in their first few weeks. Most people avoid it because it is hard and uncomfortable; I know you are not one of those people.
- Think of running or jogging as a fairly advanced activity. I would never consider jogging an entry level movement for someone suffering from poor posture or who is overweight. Poor mechanics combined with extreme loading of joints is an accident waiting to happen. If you can find a gym that has an Airdyne Dual Action Bike (which I think is pretty rare around these parts) have a go on one of those. Save your joints and the potential for injury!
- If you must run, please do it outside and not a treadmill. As well as reducing the natural action of the hips the exposure to ‘dirty electricity’ generated from a commercial grade treadmill has been proven to increase plasma glucose levels. When you think of the importance that insulin sensitivity has on health, body composition, brain function and aging I am sure you will make it a priority.
To your success!
Personal Trainer Beaconsfield