ASK ANDY: ‘Do I really have to run?’

I know, I know — running. You either love it or hate it. Actually, odds are that you probably hate it, right? If you are one of the haters, then don’t worry — the point of my answer is NOT to make you love running. I, myself, do not love to run, although I do run every day. Well, “run” is not always accurate — as a 45-year-old ex-athlete, sometimes I trudge, sometimes I slog, and sometimes it feels more like a waddle … So why do I run every day? Here are a few thoughts, which just might make you consider adding in a bit of running to your exercise routine.

  1. Running is free, requires zero equipment, and you can do it (almost) anywhere. Of course, you don’t want to endanger yourself by running in a dangerous location or environment, but for the most part, running is the world’s oldest and most natural exercise and humans were running WAY before gyms, machinery, or technology was invented.
  2. It is an extremely efficient way to burn fat. As we’ve discussed in earlier articles, the most effective way to lose weight and get into optimal shape is to combine fat-burning, strength training, and a healthy intake. But, utilizing runs during your workouts or even adding in extra jogging sessions to your weekly exercise plan can help accelerate your positive change quicker so you see results sooner.
  3. Finally, and this one might sound strange to some, but I believe it is the most important. Here it is — running is our most basic primal survival skill. We ALL ran as kids — we didn’t think about it, we just ran! And, at some point in our lives, we will ALL need to run again, and it’s usually when we least expect it.
    1. Sometimes it’s an emergency, and it’s absolutely critical that you be able to run away from danger- yes, even the toughest of the tough have to run from things like fire, explosions, or “Acts of God.” If you know my story, then you know that I was a cop in Phoenix for almost 10 years and worked on the Tactical Response Unit in several areas of the city during my time. Trust me when I say that there were countless incidents when I saw everyday people running, who NEVER expected that they would have to do so.
    2. And other times it isn’t an actual emergency, but you may still have to run. Think I’m nuts? Just a few examples: 1) Every time I’m at the airport, I see some poor soul running down the terminal in desperation, and they always look so awkward and painful because they are absolutely unprepared. And 2) Do you have kids? Have you ever tried to play a sport with them or taught them how to ride a bike, or seen someone else try? If the adult hasn’t run in years, that is hard to watch.

Okay, those are just a few thoughts on running and why I believe it to be a worthwhile and critical spend of our time. To reiterate: I am NOT recommending that you quit the gym, sell your weights, and become a marathoner. However, there are some ways to add running into your routine that can be greatly beneficial. I will use my own workouts as an example:

  • I break my workouts into two (or three if I am working in front of the camera any point soon!) sessions a day.
    • First, at zero-dark-thirty, whenever my gym opens, I’ll do 30 minutes of fasted work on a treadmill and about 15 on an elliptical. This is mostly brainless fat-burning — I watch something on the tablet and sweat away. I do add a bit of variety, with some incline walking, slow jogging, and some intervals of fast(er) running.
    • Second, at lunchtime, I’ll do a strength-training circuit workout with my teenage sons. Currently, we’re in an “opposing muscle” breakdown plan. After the warmup/movement prep, we will perform two blocks for three rounds, each block composed of four exercises of the target muscle groups, then one core movement, followed by running a lap around the track. Why run a lap? Two reasons: I’m a fan of an “active rest” between rounds because it allows a minute or two for the target muscles to recover in advance of your next round. Secondly, cranking up your heart rate and taxing different energy systems will fire your metabolic bonfire (see previous articles) and allows you to burn more calories — even for a sustained higher level for hours after your workout. As an example, today was Chest/Biceps/Core, and Block One looked like this:
      1. Dumbbell Incline Presses
      2. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
      3. Dips
      4. Barbell Wide-grip Curls
      5. Hanging Leg Raises
      6. Run a Lap!

If you’re a staunch member of the N.R.A. (Never Run Again club), then you’re not alone — I have many friends who took that vow … But, if you’re looking for a simple and free way to get leaner and become more capable in life, then consider a slow return to running. Your body will thank you!

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