For me, the worst distance to run is three miles. I can knock out one or two miles easy, because I know that it won’t take very long to run them. However, three miles is just long enough that my mind hasn’t told my body that we are in it for the long haul on this run. The whole time I am thinking about the run: how long it is taking, how far I have gone, how far I have to go, step, step, step. At four miles and beyond I can slip into the head space where I am not thinking about every step I am taking. Beyond four miles my mind can drift to other things: the music from my mp3 player, the environment I am running though, the events of the day, and other important and unimportant things.
I am making an attempt to train for a half-marathon in August, with this plan I am now running much more per week than previously. For the 5Ks and even the 10Ks I was only running 2-3 times per week and totaling about 5-10 miles per week. With the half-marathon looming I am now running 4-5 times per week and will be averaging 20-25 miles per week. It is almost hard to believe that eight months ago I could barely run one mile at a time and now, just Tuesday, I ran seven miles!
There are some concerns I have about running long-distance races. More and more often I read snippets, blogs, and articles about how long-term steady state cardio (SSC) isn’t as beneficial to overall health as it was once thought to be. As with all research, X is recommended and then ten years later medicine/science/pop culture says that X isn’t good for you and you should Y. Ten years later Y causes damage to your joints/heart/soft tissue and you should really do Z! So now, fitness gurus/trainers are saying that you should really be doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)and SSC isn’t as good for you as it was once promoted. The thought is that your body adapts to the new stresses of SSC and doesn’t work as hard as it did when you first started running five miles a day, three times a week, ten years ago. To keep your body working hard, it is recommended that a change of routine is good and that HIIT should be incorporated into your cardio component of your workout once or twice a week.
It seems that I just read too much. From every direction (twitter, tumblr, fitness websites of all flavors, etc.) I am being told to:
- run (weight-bearing exercises are good for bone health and builds endurance)
- not run (reduces muscle mass over long-distances)
- lift weights (builds muscle which in turn burns more calories)
- swim (good for joints and cardiovascular health)
- try P90X/Insanity/CrossFit (TAKE YOUR FITNESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL!)
- NEVER do P90X/Insanity/CrossFit (risk of injury is high due to quick movements and improper form)
- try Intermittent Fasting (save time in the day and feel full/satisfied when eating)
- NOT try Intermittent Fasting (may be no actual health benefits and potentially harmful if you are prone to obsessive tendencies)
So, what’s a budding fitness enthusiast to do? I think I may just try to take a little advice from here and there. After all, life is about balance. Some running, some lifting, some HIIT (eventually), and just try to eat healthy… most of the time anyway.
Hey look, a picture!