I always thought running was good for me. In fact, I still do.
But there seems to be constant scientific research reported in the media trying to tell us that running is harmful to the health.
Now, full disclosure here, I’m biased because I’ve been a dedicated runner for more than 30 years. I do it because I enjoy it.
Many people choose to take up running in the hope that they will “get healthy” or because they have embarked on a fitness regime and hope they will learn to enjoy running.
I’ve never had the problem that I run but I don’t really enjoy it. Running is one of those things I have always done from childhood and honestly enjoy the experience.
Running Every Day
These days I run every day. That’s – every day!
Now, there are studies and many articles warning people that they shouldn’t run every day because it will lead to all sorts of injuries and problems. That hasn’t happened to me.
Call it a quirk of my anatomical make up or put it down to the fact that I have spent many years building my body up to the point where it can take it, but the fact is that I get out and go for a run (minimum of 2km) every day and I still love it and look forward to the next run.
Is it for everyone? Absolutely not.
There are some people whose body’s are simply not capable of running every day. If you try you are almost assured of succumbing to injury.
Just as you should with all forms of exercise, you should listen to your body. If there are niggles or pain it’s a sure sign that your body is not coping with the workload.
The Changing Running Scene
Times have changed. And how!
When I first started running in my early teens, it was all pretty simple. I would put on my shorts and t-shirt, lace up my running shoes and meet my friends for a jog around the streets near my home.
Nothing could have been simpler or cheaper. What a great form of (almost) free exercise.
These days, with 30+ years under the belt, it takes a little longer to get myself ready before I head out the door.
I still wear running shorts, although they are specialized shorts with built in gusset and made from Dry-Fit material (or whatever other brands are calling it).
Most days I wear a running singlet that has been designed and constructed using state of the art material that has wicking properties and is designed to maximize air flow to keep me cool and comfortable.
My shoes are top of the line lightweight training shoes (currently I use Asics DS Trainer 2000 and Asics GT2000). They are part of a constantly changing selection that is on high rotation.
Even my socks are geared specifically towards running. For the past year and a half I have been wearing Injinji Running Socks. These are the socks with individual toes for greater comfort and less chance of blisters or other complaints. I like them.
And on my head, due to a distinct lack of hair now that I’ve entered my 50th year, I always wear a running cap. That’s a specially designed lightweight well-vented running cap that keeps the sun off my head and face while also allowing air in to cool my head.
A new addition to my running clothing must-wears are my Skins. I now wear a pair of Skins A400 Half Tights every time I run. With dodgy hamstrings I reckon they’re just about holding my muscles together around the thigh area.
Now I Run Fully Accessorized
But it’s not just the running clothes that have dramatically changed. I also run with a whole raft of accessories.
The watch that I used to wear has been replaced by a GPS watch. I am currently using a Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS watch. I’ve been using it since the start of 2013 and while it has had its ups and downs, it has generally been a wonderful way to further enjoy my running experience.
When I run by myself, and particularly on longer runs, I also take my mobile phone with me. This is so I can listen to music while I run. I use the Spotify app and enjoy all my favourite songs while running. This is actually one of the big reasons why I enjoy my runs so much, I think.
To be honest, I still have a little way still to go if I want to be totally up with the modern times. I listen to my music through wired earbuds. How out dated is that?
My next purchase is going to have to be to pick up a set of wireless Bluetooth headphones. There are plenty of brands available to choose from and it could give me an added dimension of freedom.
I’ve got to say, there are some runs when I finish and find that the wire from the headphone has done a good job of rubbing one of my nipples raw.
When I get home I now download my run from my watch to my computer. Ahh, modern technology…don’t it warm the heart? My run downloads automatically to the Garmin Connect website. But I have also joined Strava where I can compare my run against other people. It’s sort of like a Facebook for runners – when of a number of similar sites.
There are lots of ways now that you can continue to enjoy your run after you have finished and Strava gives you the opportunity to connect with running friends as well as set yourself goals and challenges to try to beat.
A final piece of equipment that I use on only the rare occasion is my hydration belt. This is a belt that contains up to 4 water bottles plus small pockets where I can stash gels and emergency money. I only use the belt on rare occasions because I only really need it when I go on long trail runs or I’m going to be running routes where water stops are unlikely to be available.
Running Is Bad For You – Or So They Say
So, onto the point of this little missive.
According to what seems to be a growing number of scientific studies, running is bad for you. Obviously the media picks these up and publishes them because they are more sensational than writing that running is beneficial to your health.
But they seem to be growing in numbers and should be treated with a certain amount of caution.
Here are some of the dire warnings that have been given in just the last 12 months:
The UK’s The Telegraph reported in February 2015 that Fast Running Is As Deadly As Sitting On the Couch.
In essence, the report goes on to say that in a study of almost 1,100 runners the fastest runners were nine times more likely to die prematurely within 12 years than slower runners.
It sounds as though all fast runners had better stop what they’re doing immediately or suffer the consequence of imminent death.
Naturally, if you go on and keep reading you realise the spurious nature of the study and the irresponsible way in which it has been reported.
The report completely fails to acknowledge the fact that one person’s fast is another person’s slow.
In December New Scientist reported a study that states that Ultra-Marathon Running Shrinks the Brain.
Now, you’ve got to suppress the immediate urge to question the brain capacity of your average ultra-marathoner. That’s just immature.
If you just read the headline you would be forgiven for thinking that running long distances will damage your brain.
Now, the study covered people who were participating in the Trans Europe Foot Race which covers 4500 kilometres in 64 days. An extreme event if ever there was one and something that would do all sorts of things to the body. It would be surprising if there wasn’t some kind of slight shrinking of the brain following that type of effort.
Running Is Good – Or So I Say
My point in highlighting these articles is that there are a lot of studies about running and the way it affects the body. Many of them reach conflicting conclusions and some of them can be misleading.
My personal opinion is that if you enjoy it, keep doing it and don’t let some scientist, or a lazy reporter, persuade you to stop.
So, is running good or bad for you?
For me, running is definitely a good thing.
- It keeps me sane
- It acts as a way to relieve the stress of a busy work day. I often run during my lunch break and I can get away for an hour for a run around the streets of the city or out into the nearby suburbs and unwind a little.
- I have also found that running is keeping my body fresh.
That’s right, rather than breaking me down it seems to be building me up. I have persistent back pain and have done for quite a few years now. Just the act of bending over can result in back spasms and pain.
But when I’ve been for a run, and even while I’m out running, I can feel the muscles around the back start to warm up and relax. In the few hours immediately following my run I feel freer and far looser in my back.