Running gets a bad name. An unfair bad name as far as I'm concerned.
I often hear, as i'm sure you do too, that 'running is bad for you'. If we hear it enough, and we certainly do hear it a lot, then we can start to believe it. But guess what? RUNNING IS NOT THE BAD GUY! Running is just the place that highlights our issues, and rather than deal with THEM, it's easier to blame running FOR our issues.
Running is a whole body activity that requires an amazingly co-ordinated effort to take it forward at a pace faster than one we usually move at while interacting with and against gravity. Unlike walking we never have both feet on the ground at the same time when we run. Instead we swap between the two, taking both feet off the ground in between. Our heart and lungs work hard to make this happen so we require more oxygen than usual which we do by breathing quicker. Our joints absorb the landing of each step (yes, it's often this that we specifically hear about "it's not good for the joints" (but then we're also told its good for your bones, so who do we believe..).
A lack of a 'good enough'* foundation of stability (try standing on one leg to check how stable you feel), then continually swapping legs in the air when we run (try it now hopping from one to the other) is going to massively challenge the whole co-ordination. Any restrictions we may already have to our breathing (try breathing in slowly for 3 counts and out for 3 to see how yours is) is going to restrict the amount of oxygen that we can get into and transport around our body when we ask it to run. If we don't have a 'good enough'* alignment then the impact of each step isn't distributed around the whole body's system of joints in order to neutralise its effect.
Here's what are actually some of the bad guys:
Sitting all day, moulding ourselves into a flexed sitting position, then expecting our bodies to happily open up straight, agile and ready to go
Getting wound up and stressed by a hellish day, inhibiting our breathing and then expecting oxygen on demand.
Spending an evening in 2" heels shortening our calves, then not stretching them, yet asking them to work full length for x number of miles / minutes.
Twisting an ankle but deciding it doesn't matter that its swollen up and hurting (Eh, tell me that's a stable ankle!).
Running 5 days in a row when we haven't run for months before that
Running with the wrong intent; to keep someone else company when we'd rather be doing something else, to burn calories even though we actually loathe running, because we need to prove something to ourself......
Your body is going to tell you it isn't too happy about any of them when you run. But don't shoot the messenger. It can't speak English, that's all.
I'm not saying you can't ever again get stressed, sit at work, wear heels, do clumsy things or go for a run for the wrong reason. I'm just asking that you recognise it, respect your body and where you can alter your running for that day or period of your life or do something to transition you into a better place for running. Question WHY you are running, and what it really is that you need from it. And respect the answers to those questions, even if they surprise you. Go with that intent into your running and perhaps you'll discover a better alignment all round.
But please don't NOT run because someone has told you it's bad for you. YOU decide if it is or isn't for you by recognising why you run, or want to run, and listening to the signals your body gives you when you do. Respect them. It may well require working at a way to match your mind's intent with your body's needs but it can be done. Remember the para-olympics? Enough said. There are very many good reasons for running: socialising, time alone, being outside, sense of achievement, building self esteem, having fun, focusing on the present moment, to name a few. So don't make running the bad guy. Please :-)
I am Caroline Toshack. Movement is my passion, my mirror, my creative source and outlet. I am a therapist, coach, educator, geek, yogi, mover and creative who loves getting muddy on her bike, running in the hills and having pyjama days.