Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Running appears to be the go to thing for "getting healthy" these days. If it's not running, it's hot yoga. I know you gotta start somewhere but what it really says to me is that, as a society, we've gotten complacent about our health. We get on the machine that runs for us and we hang out in yoga thinking all that humidity that they pump into the room is magically going to get you from point A to point B. It's not.
For the purposes of this discussion - running is cardio.
I remember the first time I tried to run, after deciding to lose some weight and I couldn't believe how difficult it really was. Runners make it look so effortless! I literally ran from one end of a block to the stop sign at the other end of the block and died. DIED. I could feel my belly flesh sloshing around while I ran, it hurt - I was also convinced that if I kept running that, that part of my body would shear off and fall into the street. But you know what? I kept going after it and I lost the 20lbs I wanted to lose.
And then I gained it back.
See, what a lot of these companies pump out there into their ads is that all you have to do is get on that bike with your virtual friend in Australia or go out for that run with your fancy watch that tells you what to do and you'll get to your goals. What they neglect to tell you is that if you never learn how to fuel yourself properly for all this activity, you'll eventually not have enough time in the day to outrun that fork of yours.
But Coach Ro, I thought you were going to talk about weightlifting and running not running and nutrition. I am - it's all relevant.
So hears the thing, if you like running and you run a lot - you should cross train with weight lifting to balance your muscles out. For example, running is quad dominant (fronts of your legs) so your weight training should include training your hamstrings (backs of your legs).
And if you weight train all the time like a beast, it's important to work in some cardio because having a strong heart is pretty self explanatory.
You have to have balance.
Over the last decade, since my original start on this journey to better health, I have discovered that weightlifting is totally my jam but....I have a great respect for running because it gives me an outlet weightlifting doesn't. You can't really sprint a clean and jerk complex or snatch safely - know what I mean?
So what should you do when?
I thought this article was a pretty good one for touching on all the points that come up when I tell runners to pick up a barbell or my crossfitters there's a 400m run every 2 minutes in our WOD.
For me, when I run, its after weight lifting. If I run first in the day, I will most definitely not lift until later in the evening, if at all. If I have the itch on a run day to get a little something extra in, I go to hot yoga - not for a workout but because I know recovery is necessary and the extra heat and humidity accelerate that recovery process. On lift days, I fuel myself with a high protein meal or shake post workout. After I run, it's usually a banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter and some black coffee as running makes me super sleepy after. If it's a long run, it's all that and a protein shake to make sure to give my muscles the fuel they need to repair. Your muscles eat protein. Either runners don't know this very important fact or they actually think all their body needs is carbs. Your body, runner or weight lifter, needs all 3 of the macronutrients to properly respond to the activities we participate in throughout the day - protein, fat and carbs. You'll also noticed that beginner runners often times overfuel with carbs....kind of just as bad as new lifters do with they start "bulking". Eat to fuel.
The bottom line is that you need to have your goals defined and educate yourself about the means and methods to get there. That education comes in all kinds of formats - could be a class at your local community college, working with a personal trainer, YouTube, a podast. Doesn't matter where the information comes from, just that you pay attention, apply it to yourself as you see fit and record the results. If the outcome is not as desired, look back at your data, go back to your informational sources, adjust and retest. Do this over and over and over again until you have what you want. This is a little bit of a catch 22 because as you get healthier and fitter, that bar keeps moving and that threshold turns into something that challenges you instead of holding you back.