As anyone who has followed this blog for the past month or so will know I have undertaken programme of running aimed at building my base cardio ability while I rehab my left shoulder. I’m also trying to do this (with some small success as being short and muscular I’m not a natural distance runner) on a high fat/low carb diet.
I’ve blogged a few times here and here on some research that I have found that suggests that this should be perfectly possible, and underlying this has been my assumption that distance running was a perfectly natural and healthy thing to do. I don’t mean 10+ hours a week full on marathon training, what I’m talking about is an hour or so at an easy pace a couple of times a week.
I have thought of writing a post on this subject in some detail for a while, but having seen these two excellent posts today I think I’ll save myself the bother, because both of these excellent posts pretty much sum up exactly how I feel about the subject.
Here’s a few excerpts to give you a flavour, but please read the whole articles.
The first is called There’s running and there’s running over at Train Now Live latter
Art Devany’s blog post, Top Ten Reasons Not to Run Marathons was my first exposure to an emerging doctrine on exercise, which ultimately led me into the Paleo/Primal arena and to the more general principle that exercise patterns that do not mimic our ancestral ones – such as the kind of training marathon runners perform – are likely to be bad for us.
Recently Kurt at PāNu re-opened the topic in the Paleo blogging sphere with his post, Still not Born to Run. Chris at Conditioning Research added some little insight with his post Long Distance Running – Bad for the Heart and drew some interesting conversations from commenters, some of whom raised the point I am going to make here.
There is a fundamental problem with the debate about whether or not running is good for you, or whether we were ‘born to run.’ Simply – there are different ways of running; and the problem with many of the studies fuelling the debate is that they use as their subjects the types of runners whose training program is about as far from our ancestral activity patterns as it’s possible to get – elite distance runners.
Let’s say that once per week I jog in Vibram Five Fingers for 3 hours around my local hills at a pace allowing me to easily chat with my running partner at a sub-150 heart rate. Am I having the same effect on my body as an elite marathoner who spends at least 10 hours per week in Nikes on the road with a much more aggressive heart rate profile?
Yet we both run; we are both ‘runners’; we are both endurance ‘athletes’ in the loosest sense of the word.
So until someone studies some real people running in all the different ways it’s possible to run, I won’t pay too much attention to the headlines and will carry on running, sticking to a pattern that feels appropriate given what I’ve read and my own instinct.
The second is titled Born to run over at Free the Animal
The other arguments against running that pop up in the LC world usually have to do with negative medical consequences. I’m sorry, but no one has ever conducted a valid, long term study of the effects of running on health, because no one has EVER had a big enough population of runners eating a species-appropriate diet to make a valid sample, free from the influence of a toxic diet.
One LC blogger begrudgingly said that diet might have something to do with health problems among runners… Might? MIGHT?!?! The enormous and horrendous health problems of our nation can be linked directly to the crappy USDA food pyramid diet, and runners are the worst carboholics! In Advanced Marathoning, by Pete Pfitzinger (one of the most popular distance training books), there is a section entitled “Hope You Like Carbs.” An entire industry exists to provide runners with little packets of sugar-gels they can suck down every 20 minutes. It’s insane to study these people as a model of runners’ health! You might as well study heroine addicts to determine the health effects of wearing denim. I suppose they could study the tribes that still practice Persistence Hunting, but instead they insist on sticking sugar burners on treadmills.