But I Don't Like Running...

“I want to lose weight, but I don’t like running.” So? Who said you should be running!?! Don’t tell me you listen to the media when they peddle that crap! First of all, you’re never really going to build a whole lot of useful muscle running. It’s not overly challenging for your body, you’re not increasing the load on your muscles to ask them to change that much. Look at the difference between long distance runners, and short distance runners. The long distance runners are mostly doing these long runs burning a lot of calories but eating away at their muscle mass, whereas the short distance runners are mostly doing strength work burning a lot of calories and building their muscle mass. That reflects in how they look, their body shape, their definition. Think about it logically, what’s going to burn more calories and shape your body better, using most of your body to exercise, or mostly just using the same muscles in your legs to run? I would always advise an element of cross training anyway even to you long distance runners, because you want to strengthen your body and maintain as much muscle as possible. But I’ll also never be convinced that running doesn’t cause problems for you later on in life. Runners will be rolling their eyes at me now, as I have to audacity to suggest that pounding away on tarmac pavements and roads may cause damage to your joints etc in the long run. Is the reward really worth that risk?

And then there’s the other factor, what most people do isn’t really running, really most people are jogging, or yogging, it might be a soft ‘J’. So how many calories are you really going to burn? How intense is that activity actually going to be? 45 minutes of jogging, compared to 45 minutes of fairly intense weight training or strength training. Hmm, I know which one my money’s going to be on. And I know which one is going to increase your calorie burn afterwards too. Weight training is going to build that good muscle that’s so useful for body fat management, and a couple of times a week is not going to turn you into The Hulk. Here’s a list of people who NEED to be running; people who want to compete in running competitions, people who require it as part of their sport (and even then…), people who love running above everything else, and people being chased. Unfortunately, when you look at the list of all the people who actually run, you can add; the lazy, the uneducated, the fearful, and the misinformed, and these may overlap.

Now let me explain before I’m set upon by enraged runners. I say lazy, because running requires very little thought, very little planning, very little variety. It’s much easier to go and run on a treadmill, than plan out a weights workout with 8, 10, 12 different exercises every time. And the annoying thing is, they’re often people with interest and knowledge about health and fitness. But they’d rather plod along with their tablet and their headphones on. I say uneducated, because it requires little thought, and people who don’t know much about weight training, or circuits, or the human body or whatever, will probably naturally gravitate towards the cardio machines. You don’t need to know much about them, they’re pretty simple to use and seem relatively risk free. And you’re convinced that’s one of the best ways to burn calories. I say fearful, because you look into that weights area at the gym, and either you’re intimidated by the big ogres grunting and shouting, or you’re worried about how to do the exercises, or how to do them safely. I say misinformed, because you listen to the media, or read an article, and you think running is the best thing to do, because it’s cheap and easy, and burns all those calories.

The truth of it is, most people probably shouldn’t be running, especially the overweight, it’s absolutely not the best exercise for weight loss. If you love or need running, then keep at it, because the most important thing is doing something you enjoy that will keep you going, and training for what you’re training for. But if you don’t love or need it, then why are doing it? You’re not likely to keep it up, you’ll tap out when the weather isn’t great, or you’re not feeling like it tonight. And the benefits are outweighed by the benefits of strength training, the increase in muscle mass, the increase in daily calorie burns, the increase in general strength and bone strength, the ability to operate better on a day-to-day basis and stave off injury. If you’re not going to stick to something, you might as well not stick to strength training for the same amount of time you wouldn’t stick to running. You’ll benefit more, and you might just notice and love the difference. Switch things up, try out the weights machines, and you might be surprised at the difference it makes to your body. It’ll require a bit more thought, a bit more planning, maybe seek out professional help, join classes, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Thanks for listening, keep doing what you enjoy most, and if you don’t enjoy it, do what’s best. Please don’t hate me runners, and I’ll be back next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer