A consolidation of my advice from various threads, all in one place.
I hate running. Always have. My body was made for wrestling bears in the snow, not pelting across the steppe. And, yes, the opposition between gains in the iron temple and endurance training has made me wary of the latter, given my regular worship in the former. I say all that as a way of emphasizing how surprising it was that I found such great joy in reading this bronze age running manual, which so savagely tore this noble sport from the weak hands of middle management bugmen.
I ran cross country as a teenager. I think I was the twink you mentioned. Now I hate running. Distance running causes your brain to emit opioid-like chemicals to mask the pain. It's addictive. And after a while, you get injured. Every group of runners talks about injuries. To legs, knees, tendons, back...running sux. Sprinting is fine. That's all you need. Just sprint for 60 seconds or so. Max out at 1 kilometer. Never run long distances. You'll ruin your body.
This post has inspired me to start running again, even though I fucking hate it more than anything
Try running in loose sand, gravel, over moors or in deep snow.
It's humbling even to an experienced runner in good health.
Actually, one of the benefits of Covid and non-stop home office was that I could go from 3-4 runs a week to 7. Boundary conditions (kids have to be thrown out of the house for school, I have to work) keep the distance at 5-10km per day. My advice: don't take your phone with you, and those bloody ear phones. The mental benefit of having time to clear your head and think is as valuable as the gain in fitness.
Reading this before headed out on my morning run. Definitely not what I expected. I couldn't stop laughing at "twinks in the park". Then I thought, is eugy talking about me?
Running does not destroy your knees. I did that playing basketball. Running made my knee stronger.
Tape up those nipples, boys! You'll find out why at 15 miles.
Don't stop lifting, even if it just bodyweight exercises. Lack of strength is a killer at old age.
"You break the longer run that you are aspiring to do, down into a bunch of very brief runs that you can manage, with periods of walking rest in between. You gradually increase the length of your running intervals, and decrease the length of your recovery walks, until you are running continuously. "
So, basically, Couch to 5k then.
This is top quality. Running programs are so prescriptive, geared to on-paper social media achievement and useless for changing yourself. As a rule, going until you're knackered, then stopping for a bit, then going again is better than about 90% of the programs you'll find anywhere. This post is one of the best intros I've seen.
I started running about 2 years ago when I moved house, and it's better than I could have imagined. My back and hip problems have balanced out and it gives this excellent sensation of effortless power - different to what you get from lifting, but just as nice. If anybody here doesn't run yet, at least give it a go.
1. Galloway on Running (about 1985 or so?) is a fine manual on running by a guy who really knows. And using his methods, you can actually train to distance with 3 workouts per week, of 30 minutes (trackwork), 1 hour (hill work) and 2 hours (LSD, long slow distance).
2. Absorption & Reformation is the method to build stronger bones and connective tissue. It's like stressing and rebuilding muscles, but for the bones, tendons, ligaments and sheathes. Easy to Google and understand, but the best method to do this is controlled, excellent form descents on safe, hard surfaces (limited shearing force) followed by 2 days rest.
I just turned 49, I am an athlete and quite healthy, but I have never been a runner. But I was trail walking and sprinting with my dog recently, and I appreciate the timing of your article. A good reminder. What you describe is very much of our hunter gatherer origins.
I worked up from nothing to 4miles 4x a week. Did it for two years or so then was afflicted by ITBS.
Now, I fear going more than 2.5 miles or so. I'm terrorized by the knee. Anyway, I'd recommend that new runners stretch out the ITB before starting any run. Let me know if you have any advice on that.
What a nice surprise, you are a runner too. I went minimalist-shoes 10 years ago (after experiencing knee pain). And I switched to completely barefoot 2 years ago. Happiest running ever. No injuries for 10 years. 3-4 times 30 min per week. No watch, just enjoying running meditation by the sea (Mallorca ;-) Grüsse nach Bayern).
This is an awesome report, and a little different from the norm for you but I love it. I’m 61 now and a daily walker, but in my youth I was a long distance track runner. I miss running. I’m going to try your advice here. Also passing it onto my kids. Really appreciate your writing!
"you’ll discover a new form of exhaustion you’ve never experienced before, in which your legs become concrete and further running seems basically impossible."
In cycling we call this 'Bonking', and it's like someone has switched the power off and gone home. From energy to zero. It arrives in seconds and a sugar/gel/carbo hit (or quitting) is the only way back.
First time I have to disagree. Running long distances does not make you strong and health benefits are doubtful. To be strong, especially as you age, you don't need to run much, you need to move weights. I know so many runners of my age, some quite ambitious, and they look weak and feeble.
A good mix of some cardio, ideally with a bit of interval training to add intensity and a good dose of lifting weights maintains fitness and muscle mass. I never run for more than 15minutes, I need the pain of burning muscles and iron in my hands.