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Why I Do Not Run - And Why (Maybe) You Should Not Either

Saturday, December 01, 2012

6AM on Saturday morning, at roughly the quarter pole of the Chanamas Weight Loss Game (check my other recent blogs for detail). My gym bag is packed, as I have availed myself of the holiday membership discount. And yes, they have a pool there too (you know me...). I'm excited to get back into the swing of things (and swing without the "g" too!).

They also have a bazillion treadmills and such in front of a bazillion big-screen TVS at the gym, an indoor track, etc. A lot of people run, one way or another. The fat part of the bell-shaped curve for the typical runner I see at the gym is about 25, but there are some creaky, ancient people like me logging the miles as well. Not that I intended to do running in the first place, but...

So the Yahoo home page greets me with an article about running for middle-aged and older people that really caught my attention. Of course, anything one reads on the internet is absolutely true (!) and this article started like this:

"Running, long considered a healthy hobby, may actually be dangerous for some. At least that’s the prevailing opinion of a number of the country’s top cardiologists... Endurance training and marathon running can literally push your heart to its limit, causing a variety of acute problems, such as arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat... Some of these problems are impossible to predict... For older athletes, the toll that running takes may even outweigh the benefits gained from exercise... "

A hyperlink to the whole article is below. I have had a nuclear cardiac stress test (a way fun experience and certain future blog fodder - I was wearing my cocky hat that day!) and passed with flying colors despite the physical attributes that made me a Sparky in the first place (spare tire ala the Michelen Man!...). My Doc cautioned me to WALK, not to run. If I cann't carry on a conversation while doing so without gasping, slow down. His words, not mine. Now this article.

So walking it will be for me. Albiet briskly. Among other wet-and-splashy gym activities. And Chanamas Game members look out. I dug myself a hole and do not take to losing very kindly, so...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I would love to be able to run but I haven't since i was a teenager. I have over the past 20 years developed arthritis in my knee and hips so I get on the treadmill at the gym and walk as fast as I can and build up a good sweat. Thank you for sharing the article. It definitely gave me something to think about.
    2910 days ago
    Loved this blog, although I do some running!
    2914 days ago
    Love this. Am settling back into life and, hopefully, weight loss!
    2914 days ago
    Another great blog! I agree with you that running must be taken with great caution. I like the elliptical in addition to walking and it seems to be knee and hip and foot friendly too.

    2914 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    I always enjoy your blog. Glad you have a place to swim this winter, enjoy.
    2914 days ago
    I am so happy for you that you are going to be able to swim. I love the baby picture. I just may have to steal it.
    2914 days ago
    Just keep doing. Great blog.
    2914 days ago
    2914 days ago
    Great post! I lost my weight with walking as my main exercise. I supplement it a bit with step aerobics and the stationary bike. But walking is my go to exercise, an hour every day. It isn't flashy, but it is low impact, low injury, healthful and something I should be able to do for the next few decades.
    2915 days ago
    The data I've seen shows that the benefits from "just" walking is incredible so keep on doing what you are comfortable doing. However, the benefits from moderate running are also very high. The only problem seems to be with the extreme athletes and the conclusions are still debatable because of the limited data set. As with any news story about scientific data, the real conclusion is lost in the oversimplification and catchy headline. What is also overlooked is that extreme athletes don't have a higher risk than average, they just don't have the benefits of moderate exercisers. In other words, there may be a maximum level of fitness activity for achieving health benefits and beyond that point the benefits start to decline. The missing data is where those benefits start declining. Do the benefits keep increasing up to 15 or 20 miles of running a week and then start declining gradually until you get to the extreme athletes? Does mixing in diverse intense activities help or is all intense fitness activity additive when it comes to pushing your limits?

    Maybe Sparkpeople is ahead of the game with limiting countable fitness minutes at 120 per day to avoid people going overboard with their fitness routines!
    2915 days ago
    Now I know you jump into everything feet first and go for broke --- no half way for you! BUT no one starts running and goes directly to marathon running. A 5K is NOT a long distance. If one cannot run a 5K, one should not worry about the effects of running a marathon.

    This article is about endurance athletes and long distances. This article is about the importance of testing for heart problems in runners who run long distances. A cardiac stress test is exactly the type of test that would be suggested by this article and so Mark, you would be cleared to run your 26 mile marathon having passed your stress test with flying colors.

    No need to run if you don't want to run but if you want to run, start with brief intervals of less than a minute. Nothing in the article about 20 seconds of running being lethal!
    2915 days ago
  • KATHRYN1955
    I knew there was a good reason that I shied away from running. I find that walking on the treadmill with alternating intervals of inclines and speed is more than enough to get my heart rate in the proper zone. Between asthma and previous #ankle and lower leg, the running would most assuredly send me to an early grave or rehab unit, but the brisk walking (and summer swimming) has actually strengthened both my ankles and lungs.
    Happy walking and swimming!! Add in a touch of bicycling (or rowing) and you will have a triathlon!
    Take care,
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2915 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/1/2012 10:36:33 AM
    Thanks for sharing this. Add to it all the physical injuries I keep reading about on various blogs here, and running definitely is not for me. That being said, I still feel like I should be aiming at that as a goal. I started walking 5Ks a couple of years ago and met a bunch of Sparkers at various events. At this point, I think they have all moved from walking to running. I feel like I should be moving in that direction as well but deep down, I have to admit that I never was a runner and really don't want to be.
    2915 days ago
    Any exercise is better than no exercise. Having said that, I have read that article in a few different places, and my take is that it is really aimed more at the over 50 marathoners and not those of us who are in the 5K to 10K category. The one related article to this seemed to be drawing the line at 15 miles of running per week, and my typical week is 10 miles. So basically, I'm ignoring the article b/c I don't think it applies to me anyway!

    The key is you know what works for you, and 55 pounds lost is a GREAT loss! Keep up the good work!
    2915 days ago
    hey--I have knere trouble and I used to be a runner--but--I'm too fat--LOL--Loved yer blog-Lynda emoticon
    2915 days ago
    Knee replacement surgery @ age 53 (2007) and have walked ever since. You would be absolutely surprised how many miles you can accrue walking! I feel fortunate that I live in an area that allows me to walk EVERYWHERE!

    2915 days ago
  • CMW123
    I saw that same article. My knees told me to quit running 20 years ago. Fencing did me in. Now that, is one thing I DO miss. Fencing.
    2915 days ago
  • DALMOM2007
    Running....what a concept.

    I can't run either. My knees would shatter with the force of the weight with every step....not to mention that I trip over my own feet at a walk...the humiliation at a run would be inconceivable. emoticon

    Great blog. Have fun at the gym and happy swimming! emoticon
    2915 days ago
  • NUMD97
    Interesting post. Some just do not have the feet for running (not an excuse, but a reality). I'm one of them. Here's an interesting short article that you might like comparing running to brisk walking:


    Thanks for keeping us forever vigilant, and glad you found a place to swim once again. It's been so cold lately in New York, I just cannot imagine it, even though I know the pool is a warm 82 degrees on average, so I've resorted to other methods.

    Bottom line: Just keep MOVING! We'll all get there eventually by whichever path.

    Thanks for posting, Cap'n,

    2915 days ago
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