After class this weekend, a student lamented about how much she dislikes running. The group pretty much unanimously agreed running was not fun for them, either. One student even remarked upon feeling guilty when seeing someone jogging outdoors. That somehow, someone who enjoys exercise should be out there running, too, made her feel bad for hating running so much.
The notion that you can run any time with minimal equipment (yes, properly fitted running shoes are equipment and should be invested in wisely) while getting some fresh air is appealing to the gym-averse. But what if you hate it?
It is okay. I repeat. It is okay if you do not enjoy running.
Is running a necessary component of a balanced training program? Depends on what you are training for. Specificity is an often overlooked concept among fitness fanatics. Specificity is the principle of training that states what you do in the gym should be relevant and appropriate to your desired outcome.
When a student seems defeated by the fact that they aren't terribly good at or don't particularly enjoy running, I am quick to ask, "But when do you need to run?"
Seriously. Think about it. When do you need to run more than the distance you may need to hustle to catch a train when you are running late or a bus as the doors are about to close? If you are doing any amount of high intensity interval training, you are going to be just fine hauling ass for short bursts of sudden and rapid fire movement. Unless you are preparing for a race, I'd argue that you really do not need to practice running when it is not something that you need or want to do on a day-to-day basis.
The vast majority of students I work with are interested in being fitter for daily living. They come to me with complaints of being winded when taking the stairs, struggling to carry heavy loads of laundry, or being unable to keep up with their kids because they fatigue quickly or have a hard time getting up and down off the floor. Running is not a required training component for any of these issues.
What does help? A healthy dose of strength training under increased load and prolonged bouts to develop muscular endurance and stamina. Fast-paced movements that improve coordination and agility. Compound exercise and dynamic stretches that improve range of motion. This is the crux of our small group training program -- functional training in moderate to high intensity workouts that build a solid foundation of health.
Now, of course, there are plenty of people who love to run. They do it to relieve stress. To enjoy the outdoors. For competition. But if none of those appeal in the least bit, don't beat yourself up over it.
Keep what works. Leave the rest.
Disclaimer: Fit Club is not a medical doctor and the information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. These are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Fit Club are not intended to replace the advice of a physician or health professional. Please consult your physician or a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.