This article came across my desk the other day:
As someone who has completed two marathons and not lost a pound, I was interested. Could this be my problem? I agree with the author that running is a plyometric exercise and does lead to increased loading forces on the joints, but so do many other types of exercise. My biggest issue with the author is his stance on plateauing. He’s right that if you do the same thing every day, your body will adapt and will no longer see improvement. This is the premise for the principle of progressive overload. You need to work the body harder than it is used to in order to see improvement. That principle holds true for all types of exercise – cardiovascular, resistance training, flexibility, plyometrics, etc. Most people who begin a running program will either choose to increase the duration (time) or the speed (intensity) of their runs over time. That’s progression. It’s necessary to see improvement.
I would argue that the reason many people (myself included) don’t see significant changes with running over time is one of three things:
- Not practicing the principle of progressive overload. Many people become satisfied with running three miles in 30 minutes and have no desire to increase the distance or decrease the time. The body will adapt.
- The “I ran this morning, so I can eat whatever I want” mentality. Running burns approximately 100 Calories per mile. It’s important to remember this when you’re rewarding yourself with cheesecake (my fave running reward).
- The “run and recover” strategy. It’s not uncommon for people to complete their runs and then spend the rest of the day relaxing and feeling a sense of accomplishment for getting in their morning runs. Running should be a PART of your daily routine – not your daily routine!
I still contend that running is a great exercise and a perfect component of a weight loss plan. As with any exercise, variety and overload are key. Your body will adapt to the same thing day in and day out. Switch it up! There are many types of calorie-burning exercise. The more you keep your body guessing, the better your results will be.
Sara Woodward, MA, CSCS, CPT