The Dangers of Running Myopically- Part I

You’ve seen them running down the road – perhaps you’re even one of them – pounding the pavement mile after mile, sometimes twice a day.  Their upper bodies are shrunken while their hamstrings and calves are solid as rock, and probably just as flexible. I call these people who think running is all they need to be fit and healthy  “myopic runners”. They’d never think, for example, of taking a yoga class  – what good would that do when they wouldn’t get their heart rate up or barely break a sweat. Few get in the pool unless they’re badly injured or they’re cooling off after a summer run. It’s also rare to find them in a spinning class or Pilates studio.

For those who love to and can run, running is a wonderful part of a well-rounded fitness program. But, while running is an excellent cardiovascular and muscular endurance exercise, it doesn’t promote muscular strength, flexibility, or agility, other key components of fitness. Plus, most runners’ bodies cannot tolerate excessive mileage without some physiological cost.  

Furthermore, when running becomes a compulsion, a healthy habit can become a harmful obsession. Inadequate rest between high mileage and/or high intensity workouts can lead to muscle breakdown and injury. This is why cross-training is so essential to long-term running success. By  balancing the body’s strength and flexibility of opposing muscle groups, performing a variety of activities helps keep injuries at bay.

When Dedication Becomes A Dependency

In some cases, over-dedicated runners develop a psychological dependency on running as a means of controlling the rest of their life. Certain personality types may also be at a higher risk, including highly driven Type As, perfectionists, and those who lack communication and coping skills. If you find yourself feeling guilty, depressed and irritable after skipping even one workout or if you feel compelled to run even when you’re ill or tired, you may want to examine your commitment to running. Running can help get you through tough, stressful life events, but if it becomes your only means of coping emotionally, you run the risk of making it a higher priority than relationships and/or work.

In my next post I’ll discuss how to recognize a running addiction and ways to bring balance back into your fitness program if your running has started running your life.

Be Well,





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