Category Archives: Running

Running Is Not Therapy

You’ve heard it a million times. If you’d only exercise, you could fight depression the natural way. Running is my therapy! If I couldn’t run, I’d go nuts. While this sounds appealing, it’s not true. In fact, it’s dangerously misleading.

Yes, any kind of regular exercise gives you a boost in your happy chemicals, but as far as making the difference between you being nuts or not, that’s a far cry from the truth. Running is certainly cheaper than therapy, and it comes with more benefits, but life isn’t that simple. The idea of the old trope I’ve heard of You’ll never need a psychiatrist if you have a good running buddy is not only false, it’s dangerous.

Referring to running as some kind of therapy is one thing. It can still be misleading, but I can see it being a release. Actually saying that you should choose running over professional help if you need it is something else, and it could lead to not getting help when you need it and letting it get worse. It’s much like the Scientologists’ ideas that have led a number of people to go off medications they need. This could lead to suicide, threatening behavior towards others, and various other issues. It’s completely unaware of the facts.

I understand that these people aren’t literally saying choose your running buddy over a psychiatrist if you’re feeling suicidal. But it can easily be taken that way, and it’s another way of saying you’re weak if you can’t take it on your own. And don’t get me wrong, I love running, but it can only do so much. I’ve been there, dependent on the runner’s high until it just wasn’t enough.

For some of us, there is damage running just can’t heal, even if you have the best running buddy in the world. Suggesting that it’s more than that is a disservice to runners and the mentally ill. It trivializes serious problems. When dealing with the truly dark stuff, you shouldn’t be trying to get by with the bare minimum. You should be getting down to the root now before you’re in the hospital after your latest suicide attempt, or worse, you’re dead.

Do You Need A Sports Bra For Exercise?

You spend extra money just to buy an extra sports bra that is specially made to help you exercise. In one of his videos, Shaun T talks about one participant never wearing a sports bra before, and granted, they are made of material that matches your sports wear. They don’t often have the underwire that your regular bra does, and they definitely keep the girls under control. But do you really need a sports bra? It’s still extra money, why can’t you just exercise sans bra?

Not wearing a sports bra is actually relatively common, especially for women who have smaller breasts. Some believe that a simple built in shelf bra is more than enough, and I will say that in some cases, no bra would be more comfortable. But obviously, we continue, and according to some research, that may actually be healthier.

Susan Nethero, founder of the bra emporium Intimacy says, A huge number of women are experiencing some breast injury from tissue moving up and down or in and out during exercise.

Unfortunately, a lack of the proper breast support, even for smaller chested women, can lead to back pain, tissue damage, stretch marks and sagging, and permanent damage to the connective tissue over time. All of this sounds pretty serious.

To avoid this kind of exercise related injury in women, one of the best things to do is to wear a sports bra. Yes, they can be extremely constrictive, but they hold things together, especially during high intensity workouts. The right support is essential. If you want, you can look for a bra with separate cups and a certain size (say 36B) as opposed to the one boob approach.

You don’t realize the kind of impact a sports bra can have until it may be too late and the damage would already be done.

Should You Drop Your Running Music?

I depend on music. It keeps me going, gives me a basic idea of how long I’ve gone, and it’s way more entertaining than a podcast even. I know, I’ve been told that some people like podcasts, because they like to be educated during their runs. I’m not one of those people. There are some dogs that are more motivating, because they have that beat or that jam. They may give you that extra push, and research actually backs it up. Research aha shown that music can directly influence our ability to perform. But if you can’t force yourself on your own, or if music is making you run further, could it actually be harmful?

Jonathan Cane, exercise physiologist and coach at City Coach and JackRabbit Sports says, I see on social media, ‘I couldn’t finish my workout because my iPhone died,’ and I’m thinking, ‘You can!’ So in effect, for these people, having that music to keep them going is actually holding them back in the event that our technology fails to holdup. Our muscles can function just as well with or without music, but we get this idea in our head that it’s different.

This seems pretty simple, but it’s not that simple. 78% of runners report enjoying listening to music for its motivational purposes, and music has become an integral part of what a lot of us depend on. It’s simple life. If your music can help you to push past that point where we normally want to give up or slow down, that can be good, and for many runners, a faster beat in our music can actually motivate us to run faster. Professor Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London is a leading expert on the psychology of workout music, and he calls music a legal performance-enhancing drug.

The truth is that you naturally want to keep up with the beat, and it becomes motivation also with cycling. A study of cycling specifically shows that those who timed their cycling to the music used 7% less oxygen than others who did not have music to synchronize to. Other research has suggested that music actually reduces your perception of your body’s pain or other indications of your body’s limits.

The problem is that you can dissociate yourself from the pain, and you can go too far. In addition, you have the problem of not being able to do the same thing when you don’t have music. The more complex your workout, the more focus you need to put on the workout too, and you will find that’s a lot harder to do when you are listening to and focusing on music.

Experts believe that there are good and bad things about using so much music. It’s not a matter of completely eliminating it and going cold turkey necessarily. It’s a matter of understanding your limits, understanding what music is doing for you, and pushing yourself even without it. It’s harder to do these things when you aren’t conscious of them. Don’t depend on your music to set the beat for you, and every once in a while, go without.

Run Faster By Improving Your Mobility

Runners are always looking for that extra edge, that extra kick that will get their time down by a few seconds, give them the extra strength, and of course, get them on a longer run. Running would be the obvious way to improve your running, but you might be surprised at how many runners focus a lot of their attention elsewhere.

One of the best ways to take your running to the next level is to improve your body mobility. You can achieve this by using what they call dynamic stretching. There are plenty of people who assume that they are moving just fine thank you very much, but what can it hurt?

Mobility can influence how far you can go on each stride, which in turn affects speed and performance. It also helps you to avoid injury and improve your long-term quality of life according to Trent Nessler, PT, MPT, DPT, CEO of Accelerated Conditioning and Learning in Nashville, TN. Timing is also essential. He explains, As we age, our tissues dry out and so you must address flexibility for greater shock absorption. You want to think about your longevity and ability to stay active.

Your age isn’t the only hurdle you will have you consider though. Sitting at a desk all during the week will take a toll as well, even if you’re running significant amounts during the week as well. Robert Gillanders, PT, DPT, with Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy in Washington DC says, Our mobility can be compromised for many different reasons. Past injuries, training stress, body type and a lifestyle that involves sitting all day can all play a role in how much range of motion you have.

Nessler finds that 95% of runners don’t maximize their flexibility. Nessler says, With dynamic stretches, you take your body through a full range of motion. You work on many things, including flexibility and proprioception.

Both Gillanders and Nessler believe in using movement as a way to decrease injuries and improve your performance, they also believe in proper practice. If you do it improperly, you will reinforce improper movement and therefore increase your chances of things like injuries.

There are a number of different options that you have to improve your flexibility and movement. If you do this correctly, you will not only improve your running, but your fitness and flexibility in general.

Do Compression Socks Really Work?

We’ve all seen them. They’re all over Groupon and other outlets. Compression socks are these kinda ugly, typically black socks that you get over your knees to improve blood flow and avoid varicose veins. Some have also started using them for running, and personally, there’s no way I would ever run in them. I have heard that there are plenty of exercise enthusiasts who are using them nowadays, and sometimes, people wear them around the house. That I might do.

But do they really work, or is this just another passing fad?

There was a study recently called Effects of Compression Stockings on Physiological Responses and Running Performance in Division III Collegiate Cross-Country Runners During a Maximal Treadmill Test. They used a maximal treadmill test 1 week with the socks and 1 week without. During this time, researchers were looking at performance and the buildup of lactic acid in the subjects, at least one of which a subject can’t mis-think.

There were no differences in performance, but scientists did see a noticeable decrease in the buildup of lactic acid. Lactic acid has been known to create the soreness and make your muscles burn, and it increases the necessary recovery time. So that’s a good thing! This means that you may not be working longer or harder, but you will be less sore and bounce back on your next workouts.

If that doesn’t matter to you, well, in today’s fitness world, you kinda look like a weirdo, and you kinda look like you’re just super serious.