Running 101 - Overview
By John Woolf, PT, MS, AT, COMT
I have thought of creating an introductory course for runners for many years. I have studied the biomechanics of running gait. I have treated world class runners and talked with thousands of people who enjoy running but have not been able to run because of a pain or an injury. I teach orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine fellows about the benefits the good physical therapy can provide. Good physical therapy is more than treating a running injury. It’s about helping people be proactive about a running injury.
So with all of this great experience, why not a course that provides readers with the ins and outs of running to prevent injuries and enhance the enjoyment?
Running is when you are walking fast enough that between steps, both feet are off the ground. The term “Running “might be reserved for those who actually run, fast. The rest of us might actually be jogging. Jogging is the same activity with a different intention, one that is more laid back and not concerned with going fast. What you call it has much to do with your intention. Yes, at my age, I have become an expert jogger!
Running and jogging is a convenient way to exercise. You pop on a pair of shoes, shorts, shirt, grab the dog and the leash and boom! You are on your way. Especially in the Tucson weather! You can run virtually anywhere. Some places are better than others, but you don’t need to drive someplace to “get a run in.”
Running is also efficient. You can get a great workout in for as little as 15 or 20 minutes. You work your legs, core, lungs and heart. When you tack on another 10 minutes of proper warm-up and cool down, you are done with your workout in 40 minutes. You can “dose” the intensity of your workout by running faster or slower.
We will be talking about “brain health” a lot in future blogs, because of the increasing research on this topic. It’s significant. Any sustained aerobic exercise has been linked to improved memory, and other cognitive functions. Running has also been linked to mood improvements in folks with depression.
Running and other exercise generates a slew of wonderful brain chemistry such as endorphins and canabinoids that create a feeling a well being. A local runner and researcher has achieved national recognition for his research on some of this brain chemistry. It is a powerful medicine!!
There are many ways to change brain chemistry. Running or jogging is one of them. I know that when I have had a tough day at the office, I can change my brain chemistry in a couple of ways. I could grab a beer or glass of wine, which for many is an option. Or I can go for a jog. The latter leaves me feeling a little better about myself and those around me. And, I must admit, sometimes, both are in order. However, complete the run first!
As you consider running or any exercise activity, consider the “Why” you want to engage. This is a critical step to keep you connected to the task. When you have a clear intention, you are more likely to be alignment with the outcome you want, and it will be easier to stay motivated.
The “Why” will vary between people. Many use running or jogging to reduce stress, as a social event when they run with friends or their pet, as a way to manage their weight, to feel better.
There are many great resources in Tucson to help you connect with others in the community. I would encourage you to reach out and get involved.
A running injury can take the fun out it! And there are things you can do to minimize the chance of an injury. That will be the subject of our next blog!
For information about the course, or if you want more information about your running injury, contact us!