Why we love running so much
For my first blog, I wanted to tackle running. It’s the sport with injuries that come up most frequently in the clinic. So why do so many of us love it so much? Are we built to run? Have you ever sat down and thought of what running actually is?
I am sitting in Brendan Chaplin’s class – a strength and conditioning mentor – and asking myself all these questions. Running is, in my mind, one of England’s biggest fitness crazes. People use running to accomplish great feats of distance, competition and a free source of travelling.
So I found myself thinking back to the beginning. Running for us Homosapiens is one of our most basic forms of movement. We use it to track and hunt food. Through time, running eventually became a sport, around 2,700 years ago. To honour Zeus, men would compete by sprinting from one side of the arena to the other.
After time we come to the invention of ‘jogging,’ which came about in the 16th century. Nobles would wear amour into battle and find jogging was easier and could conserve more energy.
So there is much more history to running than we might first expect. We used running to hunt, then to compete. But let’s not forget we can also use running to bet on. So, how did social running begin?
Social running or running training for long distances didn’t really come together until the legendary “Arthur Lydiad”. He created the first social jogging club 40 years ago in New Zealand who inspired people to run and introduced the ‘base training’ phase that runners use today in their training program.
In the past 30 years of marathon running, the infamous performance-limiting phenomenon known as “hitting the wall” affects 1-2% of those who race. According to sport scientist, Rapoport (2010), there are variable physiological energy constraints that provide a predictable measurement for when this will effect individual runners.
An example of the measurements include muscle mass distribution, liver and muscle densities and running speed. So if it is your first time racing and one of your concerns is “hitting the wall,” all you really have to consider is eating well and make sure you find a comfortable pace and sticking to it.
Running is a pure unidirectional movement. The main muscles specifically involved with the impact and movement are your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus, illiacus and psoas major.
So what causes injury?
It is well known that marathons causes injuries especially for people doing it for the first time.
As we have seen the hunting and speed style of the past might carry over into how we react ad move today and we can relate this to our body structure. However, another sports scientist, Burnfoot (2014), found that first time marathon runners don’t suffer form knee damage due to repetitive use. Germany’s Freiburg university hospital measured the runners cartilage before the start of their training program and immediately after their first marathon and found that there was no depletion in the cartilage. So this research shows that the structure of the body is not the problem.
So we know that there isn’t a fault in the human body, but what else could it be? Let’s say you run step by step, over and over again, covering 20 – 80 miles in a week. What could go wrong? Well if that first step is wrong and putting unnecessary strain on your body, guess what happens when you do that step 100 to 1000 of times over and over? This is how niggles develop. So lets start by getting that first step right. We can do that through specific strength training – which we’ll get to grips with in my next post – so don’t forget to follow my blog to get the updates.
In the meantime, if you are suffering from any running related injuries and want to get them sorted then book up a consultation, or let me know your experiences in the comments below.