Nature’s Plan on How you Need to Run (and not Jog!)

Ok….this is how I run. I get out on a trail with no Ipod and just go. No Heart rate monitors, no cell phones, no knee braces, no water bottles, no fancy clothing, no fancy shoes….just me and nature one on one. There is no pacing….as you can’t when you are running up and down hills. There are no rules….as you can stop and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes you just have to open it up….and then run till you have to stop. It’s almost like the best planned out interval cardio program, ankle mobility training, plyometric exercises, agility drills…..all in just one simple package, a trail. Funny….how the more we try to come up with the perfect training and programming in artificial training environments….the more we might just realize that nature had the perfect plan and gym all along, and we just need to get back to it.

Get off the Pavement and Go Hit a Trail

Look at many of the reasons why you should be running a trail:

Jogging is not Running

Seriously I saw the other day 2 women out getting their exercise. One was walking briskly, the other was “jogging”….and they were both going the same pace to talk to each other. Why are you bouncing up and down when you can walk the same speed? Don’t tell me it raises your HR or burns more calories because it doesn’t when compared to quick walking. What it does do is dramatically increase the pressure you put on your foot, ankle, knees and hips and whole body. Want to guess which person will probably have knee problems in a month or so? Give you a hint…it won’t be the walker.

Jogging is not my idea of health. Most joggers I know have to wear special inserts because their feet hurt….or knee braces because their knees hurt…..or have surgery soon after starting jogging. What does that tell you?

Running is NOT the same as jogging. Here’s the difference. Running is putting your foot out in front of you while you pull your body forward and then exploding horizontally. Jogging is bouncing up and down with more movement vertically than horizontally. Running uses your quads to help absorb vertical forces while the hamstrings are activated for horizontal power. Jogging overdevelops your quads as it is mostly vertical forces and does not activate your hamstrings from the lack of real horizontal acceleration. (muscle imbalances of the quad and hamstring are the best road to go for knee injuries). Hence why joggers have no real speed….they bounce and their body doesn’t know how to go any faster (by bouncing more? Wrong).

Want to know how you should run? Then go walk fast up a hill. Let your body get “pulled” up the hill. Now….go try and run. With the CNS warmup you just did from the hill walking you will explode out of the gates….that’s because you hamstrings are now firing.

Moral of the story: Don’t bounce your way around (aka jogging), go Run! Your knees will thank you.

Get Away from all Stress, Distractions and Back to Nature

This is the most appealing part of why I want to get out there. I don’t want to be looking at cars, seeing traffic, breathing carbon monoxide…I want the exact opposite. I want to see trees, animals, running water and to just be left alone to experience it one on one. This is my meditation time….letting my mind just wander. Nature doesn’t care about what stress I have, it doesn’t care about the state of the economy, it doesn’t care about my bills, it doesn’t care about my work deadlines or pressures….it’s just there doing what is always does everyday stress free (a lesson we can all learn). I don’t bring the Ipod, not carrying my cell phone, there are no distractions, just getting back to the natural instincts we have inside of us suffocating from lack of exposure to the natural environments and stimulus.

It’s in these moments that I have my best insights (like what to write about next on the blog), ideas and inspirations, whatever may be weighing in my subconscious as the mind can now do a little housecleaning and get rid of stuff I didn’t even know I was thinking/worrying about…..when does that happen while on the treadmill at the gym with all the noise from radios, TVs and people walking around talking. Maybe I always have those inspirations and ideas floating around me….but I just needed to quiet down all the outside noise and distractions to realize what was there inside all along, as we have all our answers we will even need inside and around us all the time…..we just can’t hear them until things quiet down.

There are No Rules – You Make Your Own Path Each Time

Maybe today I run the trail to the left….maybe today I start to the right….lots of options for mini trails all over the place…or maybe today I just make my own. Sometimes I start slower….sometimes I start faster. Look the hill, time to sprint it. An open field….time to run like the wind. A stream….time to stop and take in the moment. I don’t care about steady pacing….times….heart rates. I am just getting in synch with nature, my own body and what they both are going to tell me to do…..nothing like seeing a part of the trail and just hearing “go for it” from the back of your mind. Sometimes I’m doing more sprint intervals with lots of stops/walking to recovery….some other days I’d rather pace a little better and finish off strong….it’s up to me and what my body is telling me. My workouts are usually 30-45min long and I finish feeling great and leave it all on the trail. Running on treadmills, a track, or down a road never made me feel that good or left me inspired…..trails do all the time.

All the Best Modern Training Programs in One “Free” Package

Well you can pay endless trainers and professionals $100s per hour for specialized instructions or buy $1000s worth or specialized training equipment….or go get it for free.

The only specialized equipment I have with me is an old backpack and some weights/plates (or make your own weight….load it up with books…a rock…water jug…whatever you like)….for the days I would rather add in some weighted hill hiking. (Heck maybe I’ll even do some weighted lunging up a hill….now that is brutal)

You Can find a Trail most Anywhere

I live in Metro Atlanta area….it’s flat, there are no mountains, but the best trail is right around the corner from my house and down by the river. Heck I never even knew it was there until like 3 months ago! If you look around I am sure there are some great places that you can go locally without having to take a trip to the Rockies.

Burn Fat, Build Muscle

I could go into all the technical aspects such as improved GH response and post workout fatty acid oxidation with interval training protocols and how explosive movements builds up fast twitch muscle fibers which will elevate your long term fat burning ability….but that’s so boring right? In the end, I keep my workouts with varied intensity, mostly in a fasted state and under 45min max….most are only 30min but I am going hard and may even have to take a few times to walk to catch my breath. Have fun with it and see what happens.

Great for Any Level

I know I talk about running here, but if you are not that advanced or just starting out with exercise you can go walking/hiking. The key is just making it a fun and relaxing (for the mind) yet strenuous/invigorating (for the body) experience. Walk as fast as you can up those hills. Stop or slow down if you need to….remember it’s what you can do that counts. Some days I don’t feel like running so I change it up and put on the backpack with a couple 25lb plates in it and go hike some hills. Now that’s a completely different and great workout altogether. Walking fast up the hill with another 50lbs really works the muscles in a new way. Change and variety is good. Just remember there is no one right way, just go out and experience the workout your body is telling you to do today. Go at what pace you can safely do….as if you twist your ankle or run into a tree, don’t come back and blame me cause I told you to go do it.

Enjoy what you do….and whatever you do….get out in nature…leave the Ipod at home…..run….walk…..hike…..but don’t “jog” please.

photo by melomane

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