Don’t Run Just Because You Can

joggingRunning is an activity used as a means to an end for many. “I’ll run so I can: burn extra calories, build up my stamina, clear my mind, search for my six pack under there”; the list goes on. However, not everyone should run just because they can.

While on vacation, I am seeing lots of types of running happening. Some fast, some slow, some focused, some wanderers, some controlled, some not. I’m only concerned about those who cannot control their bodies while running. When your arms are flailing, feet are crashing and your head is bobbing or you’re in lots of pain during or after your run, you may want to consider if running is really for you.

Of course everyone can run; it’s part of our built-in survival mechanism. But running from danger and running for fitness are two very different things. Think back thousands of years ago: there were villages of people where everyone had a role to play — hunters, gatherers, caretakers, preparers, organizers and so on. Not everyone was meant to run and the same holds true today. Somewhere along the way, running became a lot more about fitness and burning calories and less about survival or leisurely activity.

If you find you have a difficult time running but you’re doing it because you feel it’s the best way to accomplish x, y or z, consider focusing more on preparing for your run than your actual run itself. In other words, be sure to stretch/mobilize your feet/ankles, your hips and your thoracic spine/mid-back. These key areas are called torque converters; they help your body efficiently transfer energy and control movement. Spending a few minutes on these areas before you head out may be the difference between surviving a run and thriving from it.

But remember, this prep work is not a one-time effort; it must be performed consistently before every run and, ideally, every day. I can promise you if you build an extra 10 minutes into your daily routine to do this, the results will speak for themselves. You’ll find yourself feeling taller and moving faster without trying. At that point, you are starting to run with more efficiency —  running not just because you can, but because you should.