racing · Rowing · running

Beginning all over again


I ran 2.5 km the other Thursday night, before rowing, as my warm up. How’d it feel? Great. This week I ran 4 km a few times. I’m on week 3 of my return to regular (not just dog jogging) running. Still feeling good.

However, can I also say running is hard? Really hard.

Running is the hardest kind of exercise that I do. I know that’s not true for everyone. I row with a friend who said that of course I can run 10 km since I can row for an hour. She can run 10 km and even a half marathon with remarkably little training. She’s not speedy, she’s in it for the finishers’ medals and will blog about that here later, I hope. But she’s a terrific runner. I’m not.

I run. I can even sometimes run fast. But it’s tough.

It’s running that convinced me that crosstraining is a myth. (“Myth” is a bit strong, I know.)  Running makes me a better cyclist, in some ways. But no matter how fast I get on the bike, running remains tough. Riding never seems to help my running. Ditto, I suspect, rowing. More than anything, for me, running is its own thing.

How much harder is running for the larger runner? Try poking different numbers in on the treadmill and see how the calorie count comes out. That’ll give you some idea.

The cool thing is, having done it before, going from no km to 10 km, I know I can do  it again. Aiming for no injuries this time round. Wish me luck!


Past posts about running:

My winter running plan

Six things about running

4 thoughts on “Beginning all over again

  1. Good luck! I used to run more than I cycled. Now I ride more than I run. I find the general benefits cross over – as I get fitter I notice the effect on both biking and running. I still think I probably like running more than biking, overall; I have far fewer terrible runs than I do terrible rides (the ones where you get back and seriously think that’s it, you’re going to sell your bike). But running is hard on the body; for me, the main benefit of cross-training is I have WAY fewer injuries as I’m running less, and periods between runs are longer.

  2. I agree, running is it’s own thing. it’s the only exercise where I feel my body revolt for the first 10 minutes. Cycling, swimming, yoga all feel like Wheee!!!! when I start. Running feels like a punch in the gut but I do love the effectiveness of the cardio. Running improves my lung capacity in a way that swimming and cycling don’t.

  3. I used to run: it made my joints ache, it made my hip flexors seize up, and it generally felt horrible, pretty much start to finish. Back in 2005, when I was in Texas on my postdoctoral fellowship, I was running 20-30km/week; then, in March, my left hip packed it in and I could barely sit or stand, let alone run or walk. I was awake most nights in tears.

    The single most beneficial exercise I’ve done – for joints, for lungs and heart, for general mood – has to be riding. I’ve been a swimmer for a long time and love it, though I’ll never compete because I’m a bit of a sinker. (Please can I use my pull buoy in competition?? I wish!!) I do yoga to strengthen joints and ligaments and feel amazing when I can finally do stuff like a headstand (my new frontier). But on the bike all of the strength, endurance, and natural talent I have as an athlete come into their own, and while I of course have utter crap rides all the time, I would never trade the ride for even a really good run. When I get off the bike I’m a bit sore but even after 100km it’s nothing like the stiffness and pain of a 10km run; further, chances are on that ride I’ll have been through three or four towns and a wide variety of scenery, which is gorgeous here in the UK no matter the time of year; it’s an amazing feeling all around getting off the bike after such a journey, especially compared with the aches and agony of the run.

    Like you, Sam, I’m not a small athlete, and of course my dislike of running has in part to do with the fact that when my body hits the pavement, even accounting for proper running form (which I’ve worked on, believe me), it’s bound to be a lot of impact with predictable long-term consequences. But I also dislike running because, well, it’s predictable: I’m surrounded by people for whom exercise is always and only “going for a run”. Here in south-east England everyone and his dog seems to have a road bike, but the runners still outnumber the cyclists by a vast margin. This might sound mean, but often it strikes me as a failure of imagination to start and finish one’s regime with “going for a run”; of course, I’ll immediately qualify that comment by saying that running, like swimming, is a very inexpensive sport compared to something like cycling, and I appreciate that it’s a great wellness choice for many people under austerity.

    Absolutely, if you enjoy running, have little pain from it, and it works for you as a cardio-builder, do run every week – but do other, lower-impact and joint-strengthening stuff like swimming, weights, or yoga alongside. But if you’re one of those people who thinks that going for a run is the thing to do and so you too must do it, or who runs reluctantly because it’s not much fun but you imagine that it’s supposed to hurt or it’s not working/it’s just you and it will stop hurting eventually, my advice is to look around for other sports that suit you better. For lots of people running is the default choice, but not the best one.

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